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.
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?
*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)