Ambivert

I spent a lot of years thinking I was an extrovert who didn’t mind being alone. Since Facebook and the “knowledge of everything” I have read articles and memes about people like me. All of them are valid but like most things each of them is geared toward the individual and their perception. Here is my perception.

I look back on life and I realize that the traits that make me an ambivert, an introverted extrovert, whatever you want to call it, have been a part of me all my life. I had been part of one party crowd or another since I was an adolescent, through the teen years and well into young adulthood. Upon reflection I see myself as a planner, an organizer and a gatherer of people. I was that person who showed up early and stayed until the end. I knew where to find the people.

I also recall that I was the one who was most likely to be sitting off the the side quietly watching, whether it was outside in a field, in a bar or at someone’s house. I have vivid memories of sitting in kitchens and watching people come and go. I suppose even then it made me a part of the situation while keeping to myself. I liked it best when it was at my house so I could walk away if I felt like it. I could be the hostess and still have an escape.

Even now if I go someplace I like to drive, then I have my way out. Which is ironic because one of my cars is a Ford Escape, it’s like kismet or something. There are a couple of people I will go places with and let them to drive because they get it, the know that I may have that moment where it’s just time to go. That thought of being trapped somewhere when it’s time to go makes me anxious.

Now in full grown adulthood I have a better understanding of how my love of people but needing to be alone works. I’m friendly, I love to be a part of groups of people and meeting new people is one of my greatest joys. I can shine when there are lots of people around but it’s exhausting. I can talk and laugh be fully engaged for a while, then I need to go recharge by myself. I know that the people I spend the time with are used to me being there but being on the sidelines or disappearing.

They say that people like me are more comfortable having meaningful conversation even if it’s brief than spending long times talking about nothing. One of the things I had to learn to do for my job as a phlebotomist was to have mindless conversation. For whatever reason having blood drawn is something that will make the toughest of people shudder. Mindless conversation is distracting. I can talk about lots of things I have no interest in and make it sound like it’s my favorite topic. At the end of a day where I have been doing it for several hours I need a nap. It feels like I need to reengage my brain.

I spend a lot of time alone. I am comfortable going to a restaurant, going to a movie or driving a long distance  by myself. Before I was aware of the part of me that needs to recharge I would try to be “on” all the time, I thought I needed to because after all, I was an extrovert wasn’t I? Over time I began to step away from situations where there were a lot of people. It’s called recharging.

People like me are friendly, we make friends easily, we can, and do, talk to almost anyone, we are the moderator in tense situations and the voice of reason when things get tense. We are able to stay on task, whether in a meeting or out having fun.

Being on time or early is essential to my basic sanity. It’s like having to see things unfold, maybe because then I don’t walk into something unexpected. I have some “late” friends, you must have some too, or even be one, those people that are consistently late. I have learned to accept this but it used to make me crazy. Now I just know to make a plan but have a back up. Meeting someone instead of going together is one of the ways I’ve learned to do things together without feeling off kilter.

I’m not one to tell you what’s going on in my life but I’m really good at listening. I hear that’s part of how we, ambiverts, are too, being able to make people feel comfortable talking about themselves without realizing we aren’t talking about ourselves.

These days I am fine with my need to recharge. I know when I hit my people limit. It no longer makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong to want to be alone. It is really easier to be talkative and friendly now that I know this is my normal. If we’re in a crowd or at a large event and I get real quiet, that’s my normal. If you suddenly realize I’ve disappeared, that’s my normal. The rest of the time I get to be friendly and plan things and be a part of whatever is going on.

am·bi·vert
ˈambəˌvərt/
noun

PSYCHOLOGY
  1. a person whose personality has a balance of extrovert and introvert features.
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