Since quarantine began, I’ve seen a lot of posts about introverts and extroverts and how they’re each handling staying home and social distancing. It sparked a convo between my husband and I. I identify as an introvert and I thought my husband was an extrovert. But as we spoke, I realized he didn’t quite fit into either category. I mentioned that there should be a term for people who are in between. I thought I had created my own category, not realizing one already existed. Altogether there are three personality types. People can usually fit into these categories of personality traits: introverts, ambiverts, or extroverts. I thought I’d break them down just in case you might have categorized yourself into the wrong one and so we’d all better understand those around us.
Let’s start with the one circling on social media the most. There are a lot of memes out there about introverts, especially now. So, what exactly is an introvert? Well let’s get some of the misconceptions out of the way. Introverts are not shy, socially awkward, nor do they hate people. There’s this idea that introverts hate going out, enjoy be alone at all times, and don’t like socializing or social interaction. As an introvert, I can tell you that this is all a misunderstanding perpetuated by memes and jokes that have taken off. According to Psychology Today, “Compared to extroverts, introverts enjoy subdued and solitary experiences. Introverts do not fear or dislike others, and they are neither shy nor plagued by loneliness. A crowded cocktail party may be torture for introverts, but they enjoy one-on-one engagement in calm environments, which is more suited to the make-up of their nervous system.”
Introverts are social and actually enjoy socializing. But the way we do so, is very different than extroverts. For example, introverts like myself prefer to socialize in small groups in intimate settings. We also do enjoy having conversations with others but we don’t enjoy small-talk or superficial conversations. We enjoy conversations that are deep and meaningful. A lot of people assume that introverts are sad but being an introvert doesn’t mean loneliness or being fearful of the world. Being an introvert can mean someone is actually happy. In most cases, introverts are healthy and thriving. In fact, introverts are usually creative and are great leaders. According to Psychology Today, “Introverts can make excellent leaders because they tend to be guided by their own values and can make difficult decisions through careful analysis without feeling the intense need for social approval. They influence others and lead them to important goals by quiet power rather than displays of ego. Introverts may do best when leading people who are proactive, while extroverted leaders can find such people threatening.”
So, to sum it up. Introverts do enjoy spending time alone. It recharges them. However, they do enjoy socializing, just in smaller groups. They love having deep conversations and connections with others and try to avoid meaningless conversations or connections. Introverts usually enjoy activities they can do alone like reading, writing, crafting, gardening, watching movies or playing video games.
Extroverts are people who are outgoing, have a lot of energy, they enjoy being around others and are usually talkative. Unlike introverts, “People who identify as extroverts tend to search for novel experiences and social connections that allow them to interact with other individuals as much as possible. Someone who is highly extroverted will likely feel bored, or even anxious, when they’re made to spend too much time alone.” (Psychology Today). Extroverts love social gatherings, doing group activities, going out, trying new things and are usually adventurous.
Though introverted people are not always unhappy, they can have more mental health related struggles. Extroverts are more likely to be happier (though not in all cases), more likely to be successful and more likely to be leaders. There are pros and cons to both introversion and extroversion. For example, “Extroverts are typically more successful at work than introverts—but they’re also more likely to die young or experience infidelity. Introversion is perceived as less socially desirable and introverts may struggle more with anxiety or depression—however, the trait has also been linked to intelligence and giftedness.”
Remember when I mentioned that there should be a personality trait category for those that don’t quite fit into introversion or extroversion? Well, that’s exactly what ambiversion is. Ambiverts are people who don’t feel like they are introverts or extroverts. According to Healthline, “Ambiverts are in the middle. They may lean more toward extroverted or introverted behavior depending on the situation.” Ambiverts are usually good listeners and great at communication. That’s because unlike extroverts who love to talk and introverts who love to listen or observe, they know when to listen and when to talk. Ambiverts adjust to fit the situation they’re in and their behavior depends on who they are with. Ambiverts love social settings and social gatherings of all sizes but also really enjoy being alone at times.
Ambiverts are usually called “the best of both worlds” according to Healthline, this is because, “An ambivert can learn how to master the positive aspects of both personality types. For example, you could be the life of the party, telling interesting stories and engaging an audience, but you can also listen carefully and gain someone’s trust.” Healthline states, “As a result, ambiverts might be able to develop more deep bonds. The extroverted traits may lead to meeting an interacting with more people, while the introverted traits can help nurture close friendships.”
Ambiverts thrive in careers that require both collaborations and working alone. That balance is perfect for them, both at work and in their personal lives. However, at times always feeling like they need to keep the balance between both their worlds can be exhausting. But overall, ambiverts have a lot of great traits.
There are pros and bad cons with each trait, one isn’t better than the other. If after reading the descriptions for all, you feel like one may be better than the other, that doesn’t always mean it’s what is right for you. It may seem like for instance, that ambiverts are the perfect example of the three, but the point isn’t to compare. The point is to understand your personality as much as possible, to work on the things you need to, and to accept the traits that make you happy. And, lets be real, not everyone will fit perfectly into a category. Sometimes we may feel a little of each, and that’s okay. We can learn from each personality type and find what works for us and what doesn’t.
What personality trait do you most identify with?