December 10, 2021 | OPINION | By Samwel Makyao | Illustration by Emmaline Hawley
For a very long time in my life, I have been asked several times whether I am an introvert or an extrovert. For some, it’s an easy choice, but for most it’s difficult to choose one way or the other.
If you were to ask my friends and family to choose one personality trait for me, some would say I am reticent or highly social, others would say “oh my God, he never shuts up!”That’s a huge part of me. That is who I am. If you were to ask me to describe myself, I would probably say some of those same things. And I wouldn’t be lying, but I wouldn’t say that I am an extrovert. Rather, I would tell you that I am an extroverted introvert, or an ambivert.
Extroverts are typically described as being outgoing, fun-loving, friendly, and talkative. In contrast, introverts are characterized as being reserved, withdrawn, and introspective with small social circles.
Now, some of you might have never heard the word “ambivert” or do not really know what it means; that’s okay because there’s this pretty popular misconception that personality can only be introversion or extroversion.
Ambiverts exhibit behaviors common to both extroverts and introverts. Depending on the circumstances, they might prefer to spend a Friday night in their room or be the life of the party. Because their personality doesn’t lean too heavily in either direction (introvert or extrovert), they have a much easier time adjusting themselves to people based on the situation and context. This enables them to connect more easily, efficiently, and deeply with a wider variety of people.
By definition, personality consists of a stable set of preferences through which we approach the world. Many important things about you change over the course of your lifetime, but generally, personality remains quite stable.
In fact, the ambivert in me doesn’t consciously choose to be a particular personality type. None of us do this. Instead, personality develops at an early age and doesn’t change significantly as one ages. That’s because both environment and genetics influence personality type.
So far, my journey through the extroverted-introvert life has been like a silky-smooth caramel chocolate ice cream with espresso chunks. I bring in a lot of flavor in perspective and energy. It’s also a gift, and little chunks of me drop wherever I go. As an ambivert, I want someone to remember me as someone who listened, someone who cared or someone who believed in them.
I love people. I do. I love to bring joy, storytelling, and laughter. I really enjoy and love getting to know anyone I see or meet.
Small talk doesn’t make me uncomfortable, but it does make me bored sometimes. I don’t always feel the need to speak in conversations, but too much downtime leaves me feeling unproductive.
Sometimes my extroverted side will say yes to going to a trip downtown Colorado Springs, but then my tired introverted side who had a long day will no longer want to go.
I can get lost in my own thoughts, imagining a more peaceful and safer world, just as easily as I can lose myself in a conversation about classics.
As ambiverts, we don’t do this because we enjoy doing it. It’s just that in the right mood and context, we sometimes casually flip into extroversion, or when we are too tired and drained, we become introverts.
As Bruce Lee once said, “Always be yourself, have faith in yourself and don’t be afraid to express yourself.”