Variety is the spice of life- and I believe that when you possess the characteristics of being both extroverted and introverted, you find yourself on the fast track to living a more balanced and successful life.
Growing up, I was known as “The girl with no filter”. I liked to talk a lot. I spoke my mind, considering any notion of whether the time and place rendered it appropriate, irrelevant. I loved being the center of attention. I cracked jokes and spoke loudly. I wanted to see and be seen. From psychologist Carl Jung’s perspective, I would be considered extroverted, through and through. I get my energy from being around people. I love public speaking and have no issues with walking into a crowded room full of strangers.
Jung coined the terms ‘extroverted’ and ‘introverted’ in the 1920s. Introverted people are defined as being shy and reticent. People with extroverted personalities are said to be outgoing and socially confident. Extroverts get their energy from being around other people. Introverts get their energy from being alone. However, we have to understand that we really the characteristics of both extroverts and introverts to survive. You can read more about Jung’s psychological types here.
We live in a high-speed, in-your-face society. We’re pressured to pursue things harder, better, faster, stronger (as the Daft Punk song explains). As we try to keep up, we’re riddled with social anxieties, depression and other mental illnesses. We need to slow down. But how do we face these challenges in a better way?
By being ambiverts! Sprinkle in some social stimulation and a dash of spending time alone, and- voila! You are now a more even-keeled, happy individual.
In her eye-opening novel, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain examines how we live in a world dominated by extroverts. Extroverts are championed for being social and outgoing. We’re pushed to take centre-stage.
Upon reflection, as I grew older, I found that being the loud-mouthed social butterfly was starting to get tiring. I was sick of putting my foot in my mouth. I was literally sick after weekend benders. Making plans with everybody all the time became a chore. Some would call it a quarter-life crisis- I’d say it was time to grow up.
I would still say I’m an extrovert, but now I enjoy the blissful habits of being introverted, too. I stay in on weekends, I can’t get enough of reading a great book, and I’m far more in touch with my feelings and the feelings of others. I now proudly find myself to be both extroverted and introverted: an ambivert.
The more I learn, the more I realize the importance of emotional and behavioral flexibility. It allows you to connect with people from all walks of life, but more importantly: yourself.
Here’s why being an ambivert is good for you:
1. You’re a phenomenal communicator.
Knowing when to slow down and listen, or ramp up and make your point, will make you a better leader, lover, and friend. It will also make you happier, and add more balance to your life.
2. You’re extremely adaptable to whatever is thrown your way.
You’re like an emotional chameleon, able to adapt to different scenarios by calling on your knowledge of how both extroverts and introverts tend to act.
3. You don’t fear change.
The only thing constant in life is change. You embrace the uncertain because you know you can handle it.
4. You love a good social outing, but also love quiet time at home just the same.
You feel energized when you’re with people you care about, but you also understand the importance of recharging with quiet time when you get home.
5. You know when to speak up.
You know the importance of standing up for what you believe in.
6. You know when not to speak up.
You understand that in some situations it’s best to be a passive listener and sit quietly while the other person speaks.
7. You’re assertive, but not too overbearing.
You know what it takes to get things done, but you’re not pushy or rude about it.
8. You know when to observe and when to respond.
You are successful in many social situations because you are able to read cues and be an active listener. This helps you to know what kind of behavior is appropriate in different situations.
9.You know when to push and when to stand back.
Sometimes you have to let people know you mean business, but you’re okay with admitting your faults and standing down in a conflict.
10. You’re flexible.
Not the kind of flexible where you can touch your toes (but maybe this fits you too)- but you’re able to go with the flow and not get wound up in taking things personally or making it all about you.
11. You’re emotionally intelligent.
Because you’re an ambivert, you know both sides of the story; you are aware of other people’s feelings, as well as your own.
12. You’re a people-pleaser, but you also know when to say “no”.
Making other people feel good makes you feel good, but you also know when someone is trying to take advantage of you.
13. You know that being both extroverted and introverted is badass.
To learn more about why being an introvert is awesome, watch Cain’s TED talk, The Power of Introverts. To learn how to speak up and take on conflict, full-frontal, watch Margaret Heffernan’s talk, Dare to Disagree.
Ambiversion is often overlooked and undervalues, but together we can share the beauty of being both extroverted and introverted- and make for a more ambiverted tomorrow!
Featured photo credit: Fisheye + Ringflash + Pub = via flickr.com