Navigating Life As An Ambivert
I never really fit the bill as an introvert or an extrovert — though I tend to lean to the side of extroversion. In different settings I display both behaviours. An introvert is someone who tends to flourish by themselves and requires time to recharge after being around a lot of people or external stimulus. An extrovert thrives with others and enjoys feeding on the energy of company. They tend to feel down when they are alone too often. An ambivert lies somewhere in the middle.
Sometimes I really need my alone time, but being away from socialization for too long is really hard for me as well. The majority of people find themselves fitting the personality types for both introverts and extroverts, depending on certain factors. For the ambivert, navigating life is about anticipating waves of introversion and extroversion.
Balance Your Needs at Work
For me, work really displays the duality of different introvert/extrovert behaviour. When I’m completing tasks, I prefer to be alone or in a tight team setting. I find myself feeling more open to brainstorming and discussing processes with the people I’m closest to but shutting down in larger groups that I don’t have personal relationships with. I spend more time observing instead of jumping into conversations.
For many introverts, the ability to telework from home is a lifesaver. It allows each person to organize their own environment and control their interactions with others. It’s a great perk for employees, and it’s great for business. When I started teleworking, the introverted side of me flourished, but the extroverted side was starved.
For the ambivert, it’s about balance. I felt lonely working from home, but filled my off time with socialization if I felt depleted. Some of the things that help employees feel motivated at work are lighthearted fun experiences which pair with professionalism and productivity. I started making sure I attended the events built on socialization for the company since I wasn’t there to socialize during a normal day. Finding the balance was difficult at first, but it proved to be extremely helpful once I found it.
Communicate Your Needs at Home
For each person, home should be your safe haven. It’s where you should feel the most comfortable. Ensuring that comfortability and happiness involves some communication.
This is not just true for the ambivert, it’s something that should be communicated for everyone. Different living situations require varying levels of communication. If you have a roommate, a solid roommate agreement is a good way to go — Not only for things like rent payment, shared spaces, and the household stance on visitors, but also for each person’s preferred need for alone time or socialization.
Though living with family or significant others might not require as much communication, due to the level of closeness you might have with those people, it’s still helpful to be vocal about your needs. Let the people in your home know when you’re looking for interaction or when you would like some alone time. Many introverts appreciate having their space respected but have also found that the need for space can be taken personally. For that reason, communication is key.
Social Burnout vs. Craving Human Interaction
Finding the balance between social burnout and craving socialization is a tight line to walk. I tend to make a tonne of plans with a lot of people and at some point realize I’m overwhelmed and need a night to myself to recharge. On the same note, I’ve also spent a lot of time alone and then realized I’m feeling overwhelmingly isolated and in need of interaction. Being an extrovert around a lot of introverts, being an introvert around a lot of extroverts, and being caught somewhere in the middle are all situations that are equally uncomfortable for each personality type.
When you’re an ambivert, you aren’t sure which one of these situations you’ll find yourself in. Acknowledging the difference and being aware of the duality in my personality has helped a lot in bridging the gap between social burnout and craving human interaction. I try not to make too many plans in a row or spend too much time alone.
The FOMO Is Real
FOMO, or the fear of missing out, is something that everyone feels at some point whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or both.
Each personality type handles FOMO a bit differently. Introverts might feel the FOMO, but the need to be alone might override those feelings. Extroverts might go to every event just to ensure they are never missing out — even if it turns out that some of those events are worth missing. (This is my extroverted husband to a tee.) For the ambivert, it’s hard to manage this feeling. Ambiverts aren’t very consistent. Some events bring out their inner extrovert and intense FOMO; other events bring out their inner introvert and make it an easier decision to miss an event.
As an ambivert, I always feel bad about missing events. I know I need time to be alone, but I always feel like I’m going to miss the event of the century. I feel like people might be upset that I didn’t show up somewhere. That’s when I start overbooking my social events and then become socially exhausted. I
t’s still a work in progress, but handling FOMO is an area where ambiverts may find it hard to get a comfortable balance, due to their inconsistent feelings about certain social situations.
It’s OK to Be Somewhere in the Middle
Are we introverts, or are we extroverts? If you’re like me, you have always found that question difficult to answer. It’s because we are both of them, and neither of them. I’m shy when I first meet people, but I don’t mind public speaking. I get cabin fever easily, but I don’t like being the center of attention. I don’t shy away from confrontation, but I get anxious when someone disrupts my personal space. I’m calculated but also free-spirited. Sometimes I love last-minute plans, while other times I hate them. I am organized and also messy.
Sometimes the combination of introverted and extroverted behaviour is difficult to manage, but it’s OK to be a mixture of the two. Introversion and extroversion isn’t black and white. It’s more of a sliding scale, and not everyone will find themselves all the way to one side or the other.
On the spectrum of introversion to extroversion, most people probably find themselves somewhere in the middle. For ambiverts, you might find that you not only find your default in middle but that you also move across the spectrum depending on the day.
Navigating life as an ambivert means learning to manage with your shifts in needing alone time and needing socialization. Finding balance at work, communicating your needs at home, managing social burnout with craving interaction, and handling FOMO is all a part of living the ambivert life.
It’s about being OK with being in the middle of the spectrum and knowing that many people probably find themselves in the middle as well.