Introvert, Extrovert, Ambi-What?? The Importance of Self Discovery in an Extrovert’s World
by: Shannon McNay
Out of the two statements below, which one best describes you?
- I feel most energized when around other people.
- I require alone time to recharge.
Who doesn’t love a good self-discovery quiz? …Someone who always falls in the middle of the supposedly polarizing answers, that’s who. That’s me.
For years I’ve felt like I have two strong but completely opposite sides of my personality. I’m super energetic but need at least a few hours every week of silence and alone time. When in a comfortable situation, I can talk to new people as if I’ve known them for forever, but at parties I’m the premier wall hugger. I both gain energy by being around people and require time afterwards to decompress.
What does this all mean? It means I exhibit extroverted and introverted tendencies. I’m both, but neither.
Redefining What It Means to Be an Introvert
The introvert/extrovert debate has become very popular lately, though some may wonder why it matters. Let me just say to anyone who isn’t 100% extroverted: it matters.
Our society has long celebrated the extrovert and long deemed the introvert as intellectual but socially awkward, sometimes even using the term “backwards”. I probably don’t have to explain to you why that’s frustrating to introverts.
Now it’s the introverts’ time to rise up.
Some of the world’s greatest leaders and innovators are and were introverts. No more do we have to hold onto the belief that extroverts get things done while introverts sit and think. No more is the world saying only extroverts can be powerful and impactful. No more are people equating extrovert with “outgoing” and introvert with “shy”.
What that means to you is if you don’t identify with being an extrovert, or at least not 100%, it’s your time to stand proud and banish the words “socially awkward” and “backward”! Here’s what it really means to be an introvert:
“Introverts are drained by social encounters and energized by solitary, often creative pursuits.” — Psychology Today
And what it really means to be an extrovert:
“Extroverts may be more outgoing in that they gain energy from the other people and the external environment, and usually prefer to be with others.” — AlleyDog
And for those who find themselves in between:
Ambivert: “A person having characteristics of both extrovert and introvert” — Merriam-Webster Dictionary
And because I’m an ardent lover of metaphors and gifs, let’s turn to Buzzfeed. Let’s be honest, Buzzfeed is really the best teacher, amiright?
In all seriousness, the words “introvert” and “extrovert” were never intended to put people in a grouping of one or the other. In fact, Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist who developed the concepts of introversion and extroversion, did so in the perspective of a spectrum. People were to use these opposite points to see where they lean on the scale, not to see which side they end up on.
Introvert, Extrovert, Ambivert – Doesn’t Matter. Just Own It.
The point isn’t to get all introverts to rise up and take over the world (or is it??). The point is that no one has to feel ostracized or left out because of their personality traits anymore. Research has proven that the world is made up of a mix of introverts, extroverts, and people in between.
Whatever you are, OWN IT. Different people are what make this world go ‘round – we need our differences to balance everything out. And once you have a strong understanding of who you are, you can use that to your advantage:
- If you’re an introvert who happens to also be a business owner, freelancer, or contractor, plan your networking time with a buffer of alone time before and after. That way you can make sure you’re charged and ready beforehand and get the mental downtime you need afterwards.
- If you’re an extrovert who happens to be a business owner, freelancer, or contractor, you might have a hard time keeping your ideas flowing without the benefit of having others around you all the time. Start your own mastermind group, work in coworking spaces or coffee shops, or brainstorm frequently with others in your industry to stay sharp.
- If you’re an ambivert, take care to find the right balance for your work routine. If you’ve been around others a lot and feel like you can’t concentrate, take yourself out of the group situation and do some work in a quiet place. If you’re starting to feel like you don’t have any good ideas, brainstorm with others to regain energy and confidence.
I fall mostly on the extroverted side of the scale but my introverted tendencies, though few, are quite strong. Given that, I tend to think I’m an ambivert. And knowing that helps me forgive myself for being inexplicably shy sometimes and gregarious other times. It also helps me understand how I can be most productive and efficient while working. Knowledge is acceptance, knowledge is power!