Most people are familiar with the terms introvert and extrovert.
To generalize: An introvert is someone who tends to keep to themselves, and mostly work from inside their own head. An extrovert is someone who tends to get energized by being with others and works best when they can be open and seen.
So what if you do not tend to fall into either of these categories? Then you are most likely an ambivert.
An ambivert is someone who is both introverted and extroverted. In other words, a person who is neither one nor the other, because they are both.
Merriam-Webster online defines it thus:
Ambivert — noun
: a person having characteristics of both extrovert and introvert
The term was first used in 1927, coined by psychologist Dr. Kimball Young.
I learned about this concept a couple of years ago. It resonates for me rather a lot, because I find that I am both an introvert and an extrovert, depending on circumstances.
First and foremost, I am a writer. As such, I spend a whole lot of time inside my head.
Some of that time is working on my own issues, fears, concerns, mindfulness, and other matters of the self. But some of that time is spent with characters in fantastical worlds that I feel a great need to write down.
Whatever the case, being a writer is not an overly-social activity. Sure, I can join writer’s groups and attend conferences with other writers. But the process is still entirely with me, and me alone.
In addition to that aspect of myself, I am a pretty avid reader. I love to sing to the radio and in the shower all by myself.
At parties, I gravitate to people I know. Sometimes I find the energy of other people a bit overwhelming and need to be on my own.
In the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), I am a voice herald. What that means is that I stand behind the King and Queen and call people into their courts to read awards to them. The audiences can range into the hundreds, depending on the event.
I’ve also been an actor in High School and college and sang in multiple choirs and choruses. I’ve have served as President of a Chamber of Commerce where I led meetings regularly and had to speak with various business and political leaders.
I can be boisterous, a bit flamboyant, and people will notice me. I can be energized by the notice from other people.
When I feel extroverted I enjoy that people pay attention to me.
Thus I am both introverted and extroverted. At times I crave and love my solitude and inner sanctum. Sometimes I love a crowd, and to see and be seen. This is entirely variable depending on circumstances, activities, and so on.
For a long time, before I discovered the notion of an ambivert, I referred to myself as an extroverted introvert. While I am mostly stuck inside my head, there are times I want to be loud and noticed.
This can be particularly amusing to me, because when I was a teenager, and before, I was much more inside my own head. I spent a great deal of my time on my own and learned to like it. Then, around Middle School, I started to get more social. Still largely introverted, but found time with people I liked to be energizing.
In college, I was introduced to the SCA. This medieval reenactment society would become my primary social outlet in life. More than that, my involvement with the SCA drew me out of my comfort zones, and would turn me much more extroverted.
Still, I spend an awful lot of time inside my own head. Further, there are times when people can be super draining. And not just people, but the residual energies of people.
Thus it is pretty apparent that an ambivert is the best explanation for me, and I suspect that there are more ambiverts out there than introverts and extroverts among us.
Beliefs and labeling
The human race has almost a mania for putting labels on things. This gets applied to all sorts of tangibles and intangibles. When it comes to people, I think there are as many labels for physical attributes as there are for mental attributes.
Why do we need these labels? Because I think it helps us better understand ourselves when we can label other people. Hence, “Oh, they’re just like me — an introvert” and the like.
The only reason I can think of for why this is important is in regards to how you treat people. Introverts frequently NEED to be on their own to recharge. Conversely, extroverts need to be with other people to recharge.
Ambiverts don’t necessarily have it easier. Why? Because situations, time, experience, perception, and individual factors will determine if they need to cocoon and get away — or — find a crew to run with. When you are practicing mindfulness, and working to be aware of what you are thinking and what and how you are feeling, recognizing if you need social or anti-social time can help you be the best you that you can be.
Further, I think that like everything else in the Universe, this can be subject to change. Internal and external forces can shift a person from one to another to the other, then all around these personality concepts.
Extrovert, ambivert, or introvert, you are worthy and deserving of finding and/or creating the best life for you possible. Be comfortable in your own skin, whatever label applies, and see how knowing where you place yourself makes you feel.
You are worthy and deserving of using your mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done you matter, whether introvert, extrovert, or ambivert.