Extroverts are people who get their energy from being with people and need to talk through problems loudly with others. They are more outgoing and talkative. An introvert, on the other hand, is someone who needs alone time to get re-energized and can think things out by themselves. Extroverts tend to be more quiet and reflective than introverts. This implicit judgment relates to which “personality type” is best.
Introversion and extroversion are fundamentally a simplified way to understand how we relate with other people. It says a lot about humanity that introversion and extrovertion are the most discussed personality buckets in the Myers-Briggs personality test.
As more people identified themselves as either extroverted or introverted, the topic is receiving increasing attention. As the conversation became more tribal, we watched.
An ambivert can be described as someone who is somewhere in the middle between introversion and extrovertity. Edmund Smith Conklin, a psychologist, coined the term ambivert in 1923.
Conklin states that ambiverts can be leaders or followers. Ambiverts can start out as extroverts and then go introverted later on in their lives. Ambiverts can adapt to any situation. Conklin wrote that ambiversion is the ability to alternate between what is clearly introversion or what is as clearly extrovert, and to find value in life often in each phase, in a 1924 paper.
The pandemic made things more complicated for us, and we imagine for many others. Our extrovert-friendly world slowed down with each lockdown. People started to talk about the fact that lockdown was an introvert’s chance to flourish.
It is possible that the disruption caused to our social and work lives by coronavirus could have shown us that it was time for us to drop these labels. Lockdown is not for everyone, whether you are introverted, extroverted, or ambivert.
It seems like our obsession with identifying as introverts or extroverts is stronger than ever. Lockdown lifts are a good example of this. We’re also becoming more conscious of how we want society to recover. There are numerous articles and Instagram posts about the topic.
This is a valid reason. Jodie Cariss (therapist, founder of Self Space instant therapy service) said that when we feel lost in our lives, we seek stability. These labels can provide that stability. “I believe we are complex, so we seek a framework to understand our selves,” she said. “It’s similar to children looking for boundaries, because they feel most secure in those areas.”
It is part of our survival instincts to be hyperaware about how we relate to and interact with others. Therefore, it makes sense that the framework that can help us understand something that we are self-conscious about, whether it be on a conscious or subconscious level, is what we hold onto most.
Jodie said that it is important to be cautious when approaching ‘personality types’. Jodie said labels can be a good starting point for self-examination, but they can also prevent us from getting deeper into our feelings. She said, “We sometimes look outside ourselves for answers when they aren’t within ourselves.”
Jodie also said that labels can be a safety net that prevents us from challenging our beliefs. She added that it is important to think about how you feel in social situations and how your confidence affects our ability to challenge ourselves.
This is what we felt and we were personality test enthusiasts so we were curious if the way we identify ourselves could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Social anxiety is something we have been experiencing frequently since being released from lockdown. We were afraid to go alone to a party recently. This fear made us feel exhausted and unable to get off the couch.
We were able to get out of the house because we realized that we are introverts and that we could become an extrovert after we arrived at the party. Although we didn’t stay for very long, we felt energized by meeting new people. It was stimulating. Lockdown made us feel smaller and it gave the opportunity to challenge ourselves. These ‘types’ could be better managed if there is a more flexible approach.
Jodie shared the best thing about being an Ambivert. It allows you to pick from both introvert and extrovert, which is a great thing. Being an ambivert also means you can be a melting pot of all things. You have the option to choose. More liberating is the ambivert label. It’s the belief that anything is possible.
The label that we accidentally found had given us the opportunity to make a decision. The belief that we are ambivert is a limitation in ability to make decisions based on whether we are an introvert or extrovert. We must perform an assessment of each task we wish to undertake and then make a decision based on what we think it will or won’t serve us. Jodie said that we should let go of labels and instead ask ourselves if the item will nourish us. “If it doesn’t, choosing not to do it is a choice and not an expectation about yourself.”
Jodie believes that we are a little bit of all. “If people are able to deal with challenges more deeply, they would discover that they have access to all parts, both the extroverts and introverts, whenever they want to.”
Jodie encourages us all to be honest with ourselves about how we feel. “Anxiety is one layer, but what’s underneath? Are you afraid of being able or having to talk to other people? She urges us to ask ourselves if we have the energy to handle the situation and to think about the benefits to our lives.
She said, “We don’t always have the option of where we go. So we can ask different questions and consider what we can do when we get there to make that less stressful.”
Maybe letting go of a label can help us see how we can thrive when we were told we would find it difficult because we are ‘type’.
Jodie stated that “we have to go deeper and further but what’s great about these frameworks are they pique the curiosity about ourselves.” They’re a great starting point, but they shouldn’t be the only one. She said that even though we are drawn to certain labels, it tells us something about our own personality.
We were inspired to think about whether we are extrovert, introvert or both. We remembered that we took the Myers-Briggs test together at work many years ago and all of us rated us higher than ourselves on the extroversion scale.
There has been times when we felt that there was a disconnect between our inner world and the perceptions of others. Perhaps that’s why we are so attached to this framework the most. A personality test is something we will always treasure as a way to grow, but it’s possible to let go of labels and see them as a platform for inquiry rather than as our defining characteristics. If we aren’t ready to let go of labels, we can all be labelled as ambiverts, who can be both extrovert or introvert at different times.