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Introvert? Extrovert? Neither or Both?

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I’ve always been so confused by the whole Introvert/Extrovert thing. Because I identify more with the Introvert side of things—I recharge by being alone, not around a bunch of people, I’d rather read than anything go to a party—but, I’m also friendly, I enjoy new friends and I have no problem talking to the girl behind me in the checkout line. So what the heck am I?

 

Recently, I noticed people are shocked when I say I’m an Introvert. They react as if I’m insulting myself and they want to convince me that I really am an Extrovert and all is well. Haha. Well, I don’t think one is good and one is bad. I think they are just different ways of moving through life. So, yes, I lean toward the Introverted side of things, but apparently a good actress can seem like an Extrovert when inside she just wants to go home and curl up with her book.

 

Ask anyone I went to high school with…I was rather shy. I did not like to be the center of attention. I was quiet unless I knew you really well. The only time I put myself out there was when I was singing and it took a lot of convincing on the part of my music teacher to get me up on that stage. And even though people said I looked calm, I wasn’t. I was terrified. I just didn’t show it. (I still feel that way when I’m in a room full of people I don’t know. Calm on the outside, sick on the inside. But at least now I know why I feel that way!)

 

Once I graduated, I found that I had to be more outgoing to be successful at my job. So I adapted. I became more Extroverted when I needed to be. But despite what people think, I didn’t actually turn into an Extrovert.

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Still, over the years, I’ve been confused about how my brain actually works. I thought I was supposed to be one or the other. But I finally came to a place of realizing I just didn’t fit the mold and I started thinking of myself as an Outgoing Introvert.

 

And then, last week, my sister Leah (I included her name because she’s leans toward Extrovert. They like seeing their name in print.) sent me a Wall Street Journal article that made so much sense. Did you know that there is a third “vert?” It’s true. There are Extroverts, Introverts and Ambiverts.

 

An Ambivert is in the center of that spectrum. They can lean more toward Extrovert when needed and then back toward Introvert when that is called for. The majority of people actually fall into this category! Why had I never heard of it before? It would have saved me years of confusion when answering questions on personality quizzes. 

 

So, it turns out I’m an Ambivert (and you probably are too). It’s not an either/or situation. It’s more of a both/and situation. I’m probably 70% Introvert, 30% Extrovert and I can adapt toward either side, depending on the situation.

 

Why does any of this matter? Well, I think it’s good to understand how we tick. Learning that Introverts recharge by being alone may give someone with that tendency the feeling that they aren’t strange because they’d rather be alone after a long day at work.

 

Or, it may help the “non-stop talker Extrovert”  realize that not everyone is like him and he might want to give his girlfriend some alone time—not because she doesn’t like being around him but because she simply needs to recharge.

 

Or it may help a mom to understand why her six-year-old son asks to go on a play-date every day after school when she’s not wired that way and would rather just stay home. He needs that recharging time with people. It’s how he’s wired. (Not that I’m saying he should actually get to go on a play date every day. But you get the idea.)

 

If you’re not a believer in all the personality profiles and Introvert/Extrovert talk, that’s okay…not everyone is interested in this kind of stuff. But I know a lot of people who are. As a matter of fact, I wrote a blog post a few years ago about the DiSC personality traits and I still get hits on it every day. It’s one of my most read posts. People are fascinated by this stuff and I am too. So tell me, dear reader, where do you think you fall on the Introvert/Extrovert spectrum?

~rebekah

*Note: When using the term Introvert, I’m talking about someone who leans heavily to that end of the spectrum. And the same with Extrovert. I don’t believe anyone is completely one or the other. But I think there are some people who are pretty strongly to one side.

 

Photo Cred: Nguyen Hung Vu (Introvert)

Dominic Alves (extrovert)

 

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6 thoughts on “Introvert? Extrovert? Neither or Both?”

  1. Hi! I love all the “how we are wired” stuff! After reading this and other articles I can definitely say I am also an Ambivert. Probably about 75/25 introvert/extrovert. I can adapt to certain situations socially but would prefer to be home, mostly alone. The older I get the better I’m getting at being comfortable in my own skin and carrying on more conversations with strangers in the supermarket (something I never would have done as a teen).

    1. got some good stuff in there-
      The more I look at MB types, the more I ask to see the results so that I can see the percentages attributed to each “letter.” I get like a 44% on Introvert meaning I have a moderate preference that way. You and your dad may both be Introverts but if he were stranded on an island, it would take him a week to realize he was alone. He’s somewhere around 78% Introvert I think and I don’t remember exactly where you lie, but you likely have a “slight” preference (under 25%). So I guess we can use slight preferences in each category and think of “I” and “E” as some type of Venn Diagram where the two meet in the middle to create a new section, but either way, when you really start digging and comparing people who don’t seem to be as closely related as their types would suggest, it’s worth looking at the percentages.

      Introvert and Extravert are easily combined into a word but really, following the ambivert logic, every category could have a hybrid name for either everyone or at least those with slight preferences. Naming them would be interesting though… Sensive, finking, and judgieving??

      Anyway, good stuff- check out people’s percentages.

      1. Absolutely right about the MB (Meyers Briggs) types. But MB adapted their thoughts on Introvert and Extrovert from Carl Jung, who came up with it, and while he didn’t give the middle of the spectrum a name, he definitely believed it was more of a spectrum than an either/or. So, when I look at this, it’s not so much through the lens of MB because I don’t really know a lot about MB. You are way more versed in that than I am. This is more for the people that only really know about Introvert and Extrovert.

        You are absolutely right that the percentages matter if you’re looking through the lens of MB. Hysterical what you said about my dad. He is highly introverted!! And if I remember correctly, my percentage was almost evenly split. 51/49. So it makes sense that I would identify with what some social scientists are calling Ambivert. Thanks for reading and commenting Cody!

    2. Yes, I read somewhere that many of us tend to adapt throughout life so the older we get, the more we can veer toward the middle of the spectrum. Thanks for reading!

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