The pleasures and pains of being an ambivert

I’ve been a bit busy. Truth be told, I’ve not blogged this infrequently for years. I bet you’ve not even noticed.

Blogging is the perfect activity for the ambivert. An ambivert is someone who, in the Myers-Briggs test, falls almost exactly inbetween an introvert and an extrovert. That’s me. I love my own space. I go crazy if I get too much of it. I love being with other people. I go mad if I spend too much time with them.

Blogging is the perfect combination – the lone writer, solitarily pouring their thoughts into page after page of internet space – but enjoying the potential adulation of a growing (or in my case, shrinking) following.

Being an ambivert, apparently means you’re the most balanced kind of individual, content in company or alone. I’d argue, that in my case, while sometimes I’m really easily pleased, most of the time, I’m totally unsatisfiable. The worst kind of person to be!

A few weeks ago I realised that I was quite tired. I’ve been working hard at my new job and enjoying the challenge and creativity of it so much I didn’t realise how much it had been taking out of me. So I planned a break. What I probably needed was a good chunk of spacious time, of empty time, of doing nothing time. I got a bit of that. But what I got more of was squeezed time, filled-up time, doing lots of things time.

In the space of ten days I saw 4am four times, and all because I was travelling not because I was dancing. I went to Tenerife for a few days, saw a prom at the Royal Albert Hall, watched some Olympic handball, visited two friends, saw some culture at the Edinburgh Fringe, hosted my sister, and saw Blur play live to Hyde Park, as well as meeting people for drinks, eating dinners, going to barbecues, helping dig some friends’ garden and so on. You get the idea of how restful my ‘break’ was.

Unlike an extrovert who would have gone back to work completely energised by having done so much and seen so many people, I went back to work slightly exhausted and randomly tearful (‘You’re just like mum!’ my sister said, when I cried for the fifth time during her stay for no reason except that I’d just watched the Olympic men’s marathon result). I think the phrase I would choose is ‘beside myself’.

And yet, with my work colleagues away, two days of working solo after my break left me feeling a bit listless and lost. I needed to see people, to talk, to analyse, to chat… I found myself popping into Sainsbury’s to find the crazy old ladies who go there for conversation in order to talk to them. This is not typical introverted behaviour either.

I’m an ambivert. Completely fickle. Craving company at the same time as rejecting it. Wanting peace and quiet and then picking up the phone to break it as soon as I can. Neither one thing nor another.

Is that ‘balanced’ behaviour… I’m not sure. But until I find other ambivert-suitable activities, I’m returning to the blog to console my contradictory urges.

3 responses to “The pleasures and pains of being an ambivert

  1. I’m feeling the need to take the myers-briggs test now – because I’d put myself bang in the middle of extrovert and introvert so lets see what the experts say! Sounds like you had an awesome break xx

  2. I also had this realisation while reading Susan Cain’s book! I got it for my dad, who is a total introvert, in a really good way, but the more I read it (having always thought of myself as more extrovert) I am finally beginning to realise that the reason I hate myers-briggs type tests may well be because I’m an ambivert – whenever I get asked questions like whether I prefer my own company or being with people, all I can think is ‘it depends’! I hate that feeling when I look ahead and my every weekend is booked up. I find if I’ve been too sociable or ‘busy’ without enough gaps in between I get exhausted and feel drained. Then I revel in ‘me time’ – sitting in bed reading, decorating my bedroom, going running by myself. But if I spend too much time alone I definitely start going a bit loopy and craving attention and time with other people! Maybe I’m an extrovert with introvert tendencies. Or maybe I’m an ambivert.

    The one thing I’m noticing (having recently taken a BIG chunk of time off to basically be a bit less busy for a while and do nothing for a bit!) is that it definitely takes me time to shift from one to the other – if I’ve been really busy and sociable for a while and suddenly have a big chunk of time on my own – it takes me a while to ‘get back into’ being on my own and I feel a bit lost and listless for a bit. But once I do I love it. Equally if I’ve been spending time on my own a lot, I definitely prefer hanging out with one or two close friends for a bit before I feel ready to dive back into a big party or social situation, to ease re-entry into ‘sociable’ me! I guess we’re all different and don’t fit into boxes – but the useful thing about Susan’s book is it really makes you think about what ‘actually’ makes you feel happy, rested, comfortable etc, rather than what you think is ‘expected’ of you….

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