I think the idea of gender fluidity can be compared to the flowing nature of behaviour. Most people are said to be either an introvert or an extrovert. However, according to my life experience, I have come to the conclusion that people can be on a sliding scale of being introverted or extroverted. And even more confusing, I believe this scale can tip in one direction depending on circumstances and external environments.
Born with a serious heart condition, I had to get two surgeries within the first year of my life. I was in the hospital for about six months, and was not touched as much as normal babies and not given as much attention. This left me depressed and despondent in my first year. It has also left a lifelong mark on my psyche. My mother told that after I came home from the hospital, I seemed angry at the world and not social. It is hard to imagine, but it seems infants can be depressed and have angst as well. At this time, I would say I was an introvert.
After a while, though, my mother said that I gained a sense of happiness and was social. But even with a twin brother, I played a lot with myself: just me and my toys, and my brother would try to get me to play with him. So, my introverted nature continued, though I grew in my social skills gradually.
Around 3 years old, our family moved to a new neighborhood. There I met a few friends who changed my behavior. I became good pals with two boys that I began to spend almost all my days with: playing games, competing in sports, watching movies, and everything else one can imagine boys doing together. Through this experience, I became more extroverted, talking more and actively seeking out social activity with my friends instead of wanting quiet time with my toys and my imagination.
However, in the years to come, when my two best friends moved away to other neighborhoods, I went back to a more introverted nature. Coupled with the divorce of my parents at eight years of age, a new sense of depression set in. For three years, I became more inward and introspective.
At 11 years old, though, my mother got married again. Eventually, our new family moved to another city. Thankfully, I made new friends there. In fact, I became buddies with all the children of two families on my new block. These budding friendships drew me out of my introverted nature once again, and became the fun, talkative, sporty, and entertaining self that I had been with my previous friends.
Fast forward to the time I was 16 years old, and my grandfather died. Another big blow was when my father passed away when I was 18 years old. This threw me into another bout of depression. I turned to writing poetry and playing more music to deal with my sadness. I was not much interested in academics—mostly poetry and music. It took me awhile to feel normal again. But I started to meditate regularly, and my mood finally got regulated. During this period, I was definitely introverted.
After a year or so of meditating daily, I became talkative again and yearned to meet with friends often. I even developed a knack for humor and loved making as many jokes as possible around my friends and family. This state lasted for around 6-7 years, before I got married.
Marriage was not the reason I switched from being more extroverted to introverted. It had to do more with where I lived. I moved to Kyiv, Ukraine from Seattle, USA when I was 28 years old with my wife, who is Ukrainian. Not knowing the local language(s) (Russian and Ukrainian), I drew more inward. Not being able to communicate well with people and finding only a few people I could express myself with made me introverted again. I began to focus more on my writing and music, and concentrated on interacting with people through the internet. You can say it was almost a forced introversion. Though I have learned both Russian and Ukrainian to a decent enough level to have conversations, I still feel unable to communicate properly and freely. Adding to my introversion was the recent death of my grandmother, who had been the most positive and energetic person in my family.
As you can see, I have swung between being an introvert and extrovert throughout my life. Sometimes I even believe I am both at the same time. But what I know for sure is that a person’s behaviour is never one or the other: it is on a sliding scale that is influenced by the people around you, your environment, and your psychological state.