Finally the Ambiverts Join the Personality Party

I’ve always had a bit of an identity crisis. When I was a ten-year-old kid, I remember being typecast as the ‘shy only-child.’ I knew it wasn’t considered cool to be reserved, but I accepted it as my natural personality trait. I was quiet in social settings, I was supremely sensitive, and I loved burying my nose in a book for hours — the typical introvert.

And yet, my same ten-year-old self was also singing in the school play and writing short stories. I balanced my time between dance, choir, gymnastics, golf and piano lessons. I had six different groups of friends — I saw all of them, all the time. I was the smartass that raised my hand to speak aloud in class (to exhaustion). I smiled at everyone, and I may have not told many jokes, but I laughed a hell of a lot.

All that from the little shy, introverted girl.

Now, I know that the human race is vastly more complex than the polarizing terms of introvert and extrovert. Even so, we admittedly love to define ourselves with a good label. Not only that — we (maybe somewhat shamefully) love to label others. Ah, you’re an ENFP! I dated one of those.

The question is always posed as if you’re one or the other — contemplative or a chatterbox, private or revealing, hypersensitive or that-shit-just-rolls-off-my-back. But what about the people that fall in between? What if you don’t self-identity with being a full-on extrovert or introvert?

Enter, the ambiverts — they are the free-spirited hippies that occupy the middle of the spectrum. They are the happy medium, the impartial chameleons that can self-reflect with the introverts and party hard with the extroverts. They feel comfortable in either environment — but they can’t stay in one space for too long.

I’ve spoken to so many people who have mentioned that they have situational introversion or extroversion—basically, it depends on their emotions and surroundings. Who they are with and the environment that they’re in can sway an ambivert to either side. I love telling people this and seeing a little lightbulb go off. “Oh, so I don’t have to be one or the other — I can be both?” Yup. Kind of liberating, isn’t it?

A marker of an ambivert is social flexibility. When you have to bust out the charm and mingle in a group of people, you will — and you’ll love it. But when you’ve been running from place to place, working long hours, or expending a lot of creative energy, you crave alone time to recharge.

Ambiverts also have a keen intuition, being quick to gauge a situation and making a decision to act accordingly. You know when to speak your mind and when to let someone else take the lead — and you know when it serves you to be pushy or when to hold back.

The greatest challenge for ambiverts is to settle on one thing. You’re versatile and crave the prospect of living a varied life. You pick up on a lot of things quickly, but risk becoming a jack-of-all-trades. It can be difficult for you to hone in on your true calling and become an expert in a singular field.

Ambiverts can also be confusing as hell. Your Saturday night could be spent drinking your friends under the table or meditating before a 9pm bedtime. You could be so amped up in a group meeting — until suddenly you want to hibernate alone at a coffee shop. It’s always dependent on mood, environment, and people.

I’m raising a glass to the missing personality type: the ambiverts. I’m one of them — and chances are, so are you. We are purposeful with how we interact, flowing between the worlds of introversion and extroversion. We don’t always need the spotlight — but it feels nice to have it placed on us every once in a while. Even though we can be slightly off-putting at times, we’re just trying to find a little balance.

So the next time someone asks you your personality type, surprise them with your answer and add ‘ambivert’ into the mix — and give a small little ‘fuck you’ to Myers-Briggs.

“And some people fall smack in the middle of the introvert/extrovert spectrum, and we call these people ambiverts. And I often think that they have the best of all worlds.” — Susan Cain
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