Could You Be An Ambivert? I Know I Am!
The info you need to be your very best self.
For most of my life, I was certain I was an extrovert. You can carry on a conversation with anyone, I was told. People love you! You’re such a people person! I would often describe myself as an extrovert on job interviews, and more often than not, I truly felt like one. I loved being social and thrived on the energy of others.
But with the “extrovert” label, which I’d clung to, came unspoken expectations — expectations I didn’t always meet. Expectations that led to more labels.
When I wasn’t in my usual extroverted mood, I began to label myself other things: moody, antisocial. All negatives. All things I felt I needed to change. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was putting pressure on myself to constantly be an extrovert — overly social and always on.
Then I started reading more about introverts. Introverts require quiet time alone to recharge. They like to be home and they like silence; being around too many people at one time can feel overstimulating. Introverts don’t like small talk, and they value something called personal space.
The more I read, the more I identified. Suddenly, I stopped thinking of myself as moody and antisocial when the new person at the gym wanted to chat post-workout and I just wasn’t feeling it. Identifying myself as an introvert allowed me to simply honor my own need for privacy, quiet and personal space. I started to embrace the parts of myself that I used to associate with negative labels.
Knowing that it was OK to want or need to be alone was liberating. But here’s the thing: Those extroverted qualities? They’re still there. There are times when I need social contact and crave the energy of others. If I call a friend, I can talk for hours and hours. If I am left alone for too long on the weekend, I can go a little crazy. I am neither 100 percent extroverted nor 100 percent introverted.
Enter “ambivert,” a term I only recently discovered that might be new to you, too. I sat down with clinical psychologist Kamran Eshtehardi to break it down. Here’s the 411.
What exactly is an ambivert?
Eshtehardi defines an ambivert as “someone who gets equally, or close to equally, energized by both me time and social interaction.” As it turns out, many people fall into the ambivert category. Eshtehardi says, “When people think of the terms ‘introvert’ and ‘extrovert,’ they typically think of shy people and talkative people. Most people tend to have a blend of both qualities. Introversion and extroversion are, in practice, two ends of a spectrum that all of us exist on. Introverts tend to feel recharged and energized by me time, whereas extroverts tend to be recharged and energized by social interaction.”
Are you an ambivert?
If your weekends include nights in by yourself as well as outings with friends, you may fall into the ambivert category. Are you a great listener and a great communicator? Do you go to parties but typically leave early? Are you often described as empathetic and/or mild-mannered? These are all common traits of ambiverts.
If you still aren’t sure, there are a variety of personality tests and questionnaires available online to help you determine where you fall on the personality spectrum. Asking friends and family for feedback is a fun way to see how others view you. If you are brave enough, consider asking: Do you think I am a people person? Do you consider me more social or introspective?
But the best way to evaluate yourself, according to Eshtehardi, may be “to engage in self-inquiry and observation. Ask yourself questions like: Am I more action oriented or thought oriented? Is it more important to me that I have a lot of interactions with others or fewer, more substantial interactions? What recharges my batteries, being with people or spending time alone? What drains my batteries?” Consider keeping a journal and recording your natural response to different stimuli.
Once you identify where you fall on the spectrum, you can use this knowledge as power. Sure, it can help you assess your career goals and appropriately schedule your social calendar, but more importantly, it can help you practice self-care. Needing time alone is no different than needing sleep. Once you know what it is that you require, practice communicating those needs — guilt free — in ways that promote self-care. For example, you could pick one or two days a week as your sacred alone days.
“If I know that going to a concert is going to drain my batteries, so to speak, then I can plan to head home afterward rather than go out to other gatherings,” Eshtehardi says. “I may receive pushback, like a friend urging me to stay out, but if I know what works for me and what doesn't, it enables me to be more open and confident, even in the face of pressure. This type of self-knowledge can strengthen our convictions.”
The overall goal, girlfriends, is to identify what feeds your soul and what drains it — and to use this knowledge to be your best self, without guilt!
Do you think you are an ambivert? Let us know in the comments below.