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Extrovert, Introvert, Or Ambivert?
I Enjoy People
Keeping My Balance between Extroversion and Introversion
Trying to decide if I'm an extrovert or an introvert is like trying to decide between eating my favorite pizza or dining on quinoa chicken salad. I don't want to have to choose one over the other for all time. I want them both as my needs change. I want balance in my life. I need to leave my "hermit's cave," where I write, to go out into the world and interact with others. But then I get to a point where I must go back to the "cave" and find the solitude I need to organize my thoughts and start writing. I can't operate in a vacuum. But I could not accomplish anything creative without solitude. I believe I'm an ambivert.
Ambiverts Enjoy It All
An Ambivert? What's That?
An ambivert is someone like me who doesn't completely fit the common profile for an introvert or an extrovert. The experts seem to agree that extroverts seem to function best and enjoy life more when they are not alone but with others. They like to party more than they like to read or write. They are usually the ones who are the life of the party. Introverts require solitude to mull things over, prefer jobs where they can work alone and concentrate, and don't like small talk. They prefer a small gathering of friends to a big party. They like to curl up with a book more than they like going out just to go out. These are, of course, generalities. I don't fit either of these profiles completely. Neither does my husband.
Both of us have introvert tendencies. We both like to read, carry on in depth conversations, and hate small talk. Neither one of us is the partying type, and we prefer to be with smaller groups of family or close friends than a bunch of people we hardly know. We like to feel there is some purpose to going out besides to just "have fun." We're both homebodies at heart, and would not go out just to go out.
We also have extrovert tendencies. When my husband is in a group of people, he does draw attention to himself. At the gym, he's the class clown at his water aerobics class. I used to love public speaking and hamming it up when I taught Sunday School. We have both led small discussion groups and I taught in schools for a few years. We are small scale political activists, but both of us hate sitting through long, boring city council meetings and county board meetings just to keep elected officials accountable. No communication there. They don't listen. Neither of us has a problem introducing ourselves and joining in conversations if at a convention or training session where we don't know anyone else.
If I had to classify us, I'd say my husband is an ambivert leaning toward being an extrovert. I would be an ambivert closer to introvert on the continuem. Both of us need social interactions with people outside the family to help energize us, but he needs it more often than I do. I have to be dragged out to go to church social events, but when I get there I join in and have a good time. Yet I will go eagerly to Studios on the Park to talk to the artists there for a few minutes or attend an exhibit opening, and have no problem going alone. On the other hand, I hide behind my camera when I'm there, and use the event to gather writing ideas. I come away from both the church social and the artists' reception energized.
When I write, I want to be left alone to concentrate. But when I go for a walk, although I can enjoy it alone if I take my camera, I would much rather go with someone I can talk to while I walk -- and not on a cell phone. It's a sign that you're an extrovert if you like to talk to clarify what you think or if you often talk before thinking things through. I like to talk to someone when I am frustrated or upset, and if I talk through a problem as someone listens, that sometimes almost solves it or, at least, crystalizes it in my mind to make it easier to solve. That works better for me than the introvert's tendency to journal it or just sit and think it over. However, when it comes to communicating ideas to other people or trying to share information, I'd much rather write it because it gives me more time to organize and evaluate my thoughts. That's what introverts like to do.
Another extrovert tendency I have is that my interests often have more breadth than depth. I'm a "jack of all trades, master of none" type. But when I have a burning interest in something, I will try to research it or learn it. So that means I also have introvert tendencies when I take the time to research something and think it through. That makes me an ambivert when it comes to interests.
Some who study personality like to measure introvert and extrovert tendencies on a scale between one and ten. A one is a full-blown introvert, and a ten is a definite extrovert. Most people fall somewhere in between. When I took one of the quizzes available on the Internet, I scored at 4.9. I think that fits. I am quite happy to work in solitude, but then I'd like some interaction with others. I prefer to share meals with another person, enjoy interacting in some depth with others, and would rather write than talk. I don't like to be interrupted when I'm working. I just went to another site and took two more tests, written by nerds. The result of one was that I'm 78% introvert. The other said I was 78% extrovert. It's good to take more than one test to classify yourself. I have written a couple below that reflect what I've learned writing this. Take both quizzes to see if the results match. Use the comments to let me know if you think the results did fit you.
According to the people who are supposed to be experts in such things, I have the best of both worlds. Ambiverts rock!
Are You an Introvert, Extrovert, or Ambivert?
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Extroverts Enjoy Being in the Center of Things
Are You an Extrovert, Introvert, or Ambivert?
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Was I Always an Ambivert?
As I began to think about this subject, I remembered that my life has gone through some different stages when I seemed to lean more toward being an introvert or extrovert. This makes me wonder if environment can influence our personality type.
When I was a child, up until grade 10, I was more of an introvert. I was an only child for ten years, and was used to solitude. I was a bookworm, but did play with the neighborhood children sometimes. I also had imaginary friends or pretended I was some of the people I had read about in books. I skipped part of second grade and after that I didn't seem to fit with either my age group or my grade group.
In sixth grade I moved to a new neighborhood where I really did not enjoy playing with the neighbors. I was also the new kid at school and it was hard to make new friends. In junior high most of my social life was at church, but I really wasn't in any of the cliques there because I was too private a person to share my life with a gang. In high school though, I found a group where I fit and was a leader in it. I came out of my shell in high school and stayed out of it during college, where I loved dorm life and campus activities. I married right after graduation and we stayed in Westwood when my husband was employed there, so we kept contact with many of our college friends.
We moved when we did our graduate work, and when I went into teaching it wasn't my first choice. Our first apartment in Long Beach was in a small unit where the landlords, who also lived there, were somewhat like houseparents. They encouraged tenants to socialize with each other, and we did. We played cards often, just talked, and there were even apartment parties. I also enjoyed student teaching and my first teaching job at Poly High.
Then I was transferred and things changed. We moved into a dark apartment across from my new school so I could walk to work. We didn't know any of our neighbors, and my job was terrible. I was separated from the group of young teachers with whom I'd gone to graduate school and who had all gotten our first teaching jobs at Poly high. We had also carpooled together. At Jordan I was on my own. And I didn't like it. We moved again after that year and I was in a great church and in a much better school. Our church became like a huge family and we were the college sponsors. That often meant our house was full of college kids all weekend most weekends, and some of the students even slept there some nights. I thrived on it, though after I quit my teaching job I had most of my days alone and enjoyed that, too. When I had opportunity, though, I was still a social butterfly.
When we moved again, it was to a smaller town, but we immediately made close friends at church, and neighbors neighbored with each other. We had small group meetings every Friday night for years, and often took walks with our neighbors, picking up more neighbors as we went. I loved having people around, but still enjoyed some quiet weeknight evenings alone with my husband.
Our life changed again when we adopted our children. That really ended my times of solitude, except when they were at school. When we bagan homeschooling, solitude was pretty much out of the picture. But I still enjoyed my life. That happy time ended when my son, then 14, was killed in an accident. The people who gathered round us were a great comfort. But after a year we had to complete the move we'd already committed to just before Jason died. I was 50 when we moved to our present home in Templeton.
Templeton is a small town and our church is not community based. So we don't see people from church except on Sundays. I also started my business when I moved here and that took a lot of time. My nephew lived with us for part of a year, and we had a close friend we saw regularly, but he died six years ago. I spent most of my time since 1996, when I took my business on line, working on the computer upstairs, making my website, listing books, and selling and shipping them. It left little time for a social life. Our friend Rich was pretty much our social life, and when he died, that ended. We also had family responsibilities to our aging mothers, and that left little time for social life of any kind. My world became smaller, and I began to revert back to being an introvert.
It's possible that I am really more extroverted than introverted but never had opportunity to explore that part of myself because I lacked the opportunity until I was in high school. Then I became a butterfly until the last ten years or so, when I became so overwhelmed with work I didn't have any free time. I'm also less confident of myself socially than when I was younger. And maybe I'm just getting tired, since I'm now over 70. I enjoy solitude, but would not enjoy being a widow and living totally alone. I do not get bored very often when I'm alone and working, but I would be lonely for people if I didn't have some regular contact with at least one person. Perhaps I've always been an ambivert, and just moved up and down on the continuem between introversion and extroversion as changes occurred in my environment and opportunities to interact.