The Ambivert

I'd never describe myself as an introvert. To me, introversion has always had some negative connotations, with reason, as it appears the educational and working world see introversion as a negative quality which you can be coached out of or at the very least, put on a brave face; a 'fake it until you make it' attitude.

I wouldn't ever have thought of myself as an introvert; I like being in the middle of a group, I like talking loudly, I studied drama for my degree, was an active member of the performing arts and entertainments societies at uni, my business presentations are always critiqued as 'confident', I can act, sing and dance on stage without blinking, I never got stage fright, I rarely got pre-show nerves (I just got that crazy rush of endorphins afterwards), I hold meetings weekly at work and have been invited back to a job interview once because 'she's the best interviewee you'll ever see' (seriously, someone said that about me!) - none of these are the signs of introversion. 

Who is an Ambivert?
Textbook ENFJ, allegedly. Now shush.





However, I have a pile of introverted tendencies (or what I refer to as) which for years made me feel like an antisocial freak. I've ignored them, I've fought them, I've felt broken when they've come to the surface and finally I've had enough of pushing them away and burying them. I'm renaming myself an Ambivert and you can stick your Myers-Briggs up your backsides. 

Here's the things which I refer to as 'one of my introverted qualities'.

I recharge in my own company. I assume this is just my background catching up with me, but my alone time is precious because it is rare. When I was a teenager I would happily spend hours alone in my bedroom writing, listening to music and binge watching episodes of The X-Files, my home was noisy; I needed the escape. When I was at uni I would spend a lot of my time alone in my room between all those extroverted things I've listed above, my flat was loud and full of students; I needed the escape. As an adult in my own place I felt disgustingly peaceful in my own company. Seriously, in the 18 months I spent living as a totally single girl I got bored twice. TWICE. That's how awesome I think my own company is. Now, even though I don't live alone, I treasure evenings alone in the flat and I spend it either here - writing - or laying on my bed listening to music (I am still that 15 year old girl in her bedroom at times).

Only Boring People Get Bored
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I spend my days in an open plan office at work, so I like a good 30 minute walk at lunchtime on my own where I don't have to engage with anyone and for the majority of my evenings I will choose sitting in bed, reading quietly alone as the best way to spend my time. It might seem really unpleasant to come home from work some evenings and say to the people you share your home space with 'you need to not talk to me for at least an hour', but if you need it, have it, and don't apologise for it. 

I will have periods where I do not want to talk to anyone - and I mean anyone. I will not respond to messages, emails, texts, Tweets and comments on blogs. Nothing. I go completely off the radar. Usually this is following a heavy social period, so I need a few days to recoup and regroup my thoughts. I used to think this was a 'social comedown', turns out it's just how I like to process my thoughts.

Introverts
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I choose writing over performing now. I don't quite know when this shift in my creativity happened, it's probably thanks to the evolution of the internet and the ability to get my writing out there, so to speak. I also hate it when my work is read before it's finished unless I've given express permission (and even then I might be a bit twitchy about it). Some research seems to indicate that introverts are the ones that have some of the best ideas (Steve Wozniak and Bill Gates would be some top examples). To me, quiet time is creative time. I've had some of my best ideas when on running on a treadmill, during a long walk or on a train journey, that pure 'me time' seems to awaken a part of my brain which can be silent at all other times.

Introversion
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While I mention activities, this is why I liked running and weight lifting so much - total solo activities. I used to play team sports and go to gym classes, but I've learned that not only am I my own worst critic (not great, I know, I'm working on it) I'm also my biggest competition and every training session I am trying to beat my times, distance, reps or weights from the last time. That said, put me in a group activity and I'm not competitive at all, I like to see how the group works and where people's strengths lie and use that to achieve the best result (okay, maybe that's a little competitive, but not in a singular way). On a positive note, I am also my own cheerleader and once I set my mind on something I will go until I achieve it. I can't count how many times I've justified my behaviour with 'go hard or go home' to friends. I believe in myself which is a gift at times when you think that no one else does.

I find periods of introversion really satisfying. I'm very open with my emotions and I like to spend time with my thoughts, nothing about this sounds negative to me and if people still view introversion as social just awkwardness then you are wrong. I can interact with strangers easily (hello, Comic Con) and love a big dose of carpe diem adventures landing in my life (I say yes to everything these days), that doesn't make me a better person than when I spend my Friday night at home letting calls roll to voicemail and binge watching Netflix. I love that I land perfectly between the two places on the spectrum and I think I'm getting the best of both worlds with my complex personality. I'm happy to do things on my own (one of my best nights out last month was taking myself and a book out for dinner), I never feel lonely so I plan a lot of things for just me to do, but if people want to hang out and do things with me, then awesome, invite yourself and welcome onboard the Good Ship Marshall.

So here's to the ambiverts. What a brilliant, creative, social, mellow, comfortable bunch of souls we are. Just let us have our space every now and then, it's what powers the personality. 

Who is an Ambivert?
Quiet, empty house- happy little face

You can listen to a fantastic podcast about quiet time from TED Radio Hour here and one of the speakers, Susan Cain, has written a very detailed book about introversion called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World can't stop talking. Both highly recommended if you'd like some extra credit.

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