Much to my surprise (and probably everyone I have ever met) I recently found out that I am an introvert.
Full stop. That’s what the test said.
Granted, tests can be wrong. But in this case, when I found out, I felt relief. In fact, I did a big exhale.
I remember watching the Susan Cain TED talk about the power of introverts and thinking, “Wow! That really explains a lot.” I still haven’t read her book, but it’s surely on the list.
But then, as I was going a little further with it, I realized that I actually straddle the line. Both of my parents are introverts and as an outgoing child I remember wondering what planet I came from. I felt like a super friendly kind of alien- all smiles and overwhelming laughter. But after moving to Berlin, I realized how much I craved time alone. I figured out that somewhere along the way, I had learned how to function in both spaces.
Double Blessing = Double Curse
As it turns out, I am an Ambivert. No seriously, it’s a real thing.
When I am in social situations, I crave space. When I am in solitude, I crave feedback. When I am with people, I get energy from their energy and sometimes simultaneously feel drained. When I am alone, I get energy from reflection and sometimes simultaneously feel lonely.
I assume that Ambiversion is often a similar feeling to going insane. And if you are not aware of where you are on this spectrum, it might really help to find out. As I am learning more, I am becoming more comfortable with what Ambiversion is.
I recently spent the weekend in Vegas for a friend’s birthday party. Half of me was thrilled and the other half exhausted. When I came home, I instantly got sick. My mom kept telling me that I caught something from being around so many people. I tried to explain that it wasn’t a virus per se, but rather a recovery mechanism that my body set up in order to retreat. Basically it decided that if I wasn’t going to be brave enough to say no to people and take some time alone, it would make me.
And I remember I always used to get sick in high school. I blamed a flawed immune system but, in retrospect, I blame my lack of understanding of my own social limits. Sometimes we need stimulation. Sometimes we don’t. It is vital to know and own the difference.
Contortionist for the World
I have spent so much time feeling “not quite right”- bending myself to fit my environment. But perhaps it’s an interesting thing to bend your environment to you. I mean, I am all for growth and change. Evolution, expansion, etc. But isn’t there something to be said for taking care of your own nature?
I know we are taught to adjust ourselves to our world. We are told that the world around us is the thing we should try to fit into. I think this is the standard model for growing up as was introduced to me by my society:
Step one– figure out what the world wants from you so that you can find a way to fit in.
Step two– learn how to hate what doesn’t fit about yourself and change it.
Step three– try to find a way to be happy in the context you have created.
So if you like the world as it is, great. If you are perfectly happy in your life, also good. By all means, don’t change anything. But revolution, personal or otherwise, never came by doing things like everyone else. And the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. So if something doesn’t feel right, why not mix it up? I actually think it’s backwards and instead, we would be better off to “do life” like this:
Step one– find out who you are and what makes you happy.
Step two– learn to love what you find and cultivate your natural passions.
Step three– create an environment that supports you so you can offer your best to the world.
I am not sure about you, but I am willing to give this theory my best shot.
If you are curious about where you are on the introversion/extroversion scale- there is a quick little test here.