Extroverted, Introverted, and Ambiverted
I read an article today which was a cheeky rant at the sudden rise in posts on social media sites about being introverted. The author felt that introverts were behaving in a highly extroverted way about being introverted, thus confusing the issue of whether they were truly introverts or just extroverts merrily joining in on the latest trend of how cool it is to be a proud introvert. They also felt that introverts were engaging in unfair extrovert bashing, thus making being an extrovert a bad thing to be, and shaming anyone bold enough to claim to be an extrovert.
The comments which flooded this article were very interesting. As comments always are on news sites. Some seriously pissed off introverts wanted to rip the author a new one. And some relieved extroverts were regaling the fact that someone had finally voiced what many were thinking, and did so without fear of incurring the wrath of the loud and proud members of the introvert movement sweeping the internet.
One comment pointed out that there was a third category – Ambiverts. Which covered those who were both introverted and extroverted depending on the situation. I like that idea!
I have to admit that I had a similar response to the increasing amounts of extrovert bashing being done by introverts on the internet. Then again, introverts have felt bashed for a long time by society’s view that being an extrovert is brilliant and being an introvert is weird, and a sign of possible serial killing tendencies. So a redressing of the balance was in order.
Like with all movements, they often start with one brave soul crying out – I’m mad as hell and I’m not taking anymore! If they shout loud enough for others who are feeling the same way to hear them, then a group begins to form around the shouter. With a significant amount of people gathering together who are fed up and want to turn the tide, momentum builds around the movement and the tide begins to turn.
This was what happened with Feminism. It was a needed movement when it came into being, but at certain point it had achieved a large part of what it set out to do and slowly began to descend into male bashing, just as female bashing had been something that had driven women to fight back and rebel against imbalance of power. This pattern is played out in many different arenas. It seems to be how humans do things. Swinging from extremes until the pendulum finds the sweet spot in the middle, sometimes it takes a while… eons… for that to happen.
So, which one am I and which side am I on?
I have always been very shy. As a child I preferred playing by myself. Perhaps this was due to the fact that I was isolated from other children during my formative years and did not meet very many, and the ones I met were usually so very different from me that it made me feel as though I was an alien visiting Earth. By the time I went to school, I was too much of an individual with my own rules and way of doing and seeing things to conform to group mentality. This has not changed. I don’t pick sides, I make my own side which is often smack in the middle of opposing sides, as I like to see the pros and cons of both sides and formulate my own views.
The games which I played by myself often had me as the centre of attention of lots of imaginary people. My favourite game had me in the role of a fixer. I solved other people’s problems, from the smallest to the biggest. Which is funny really, as in real life many people consider me to be the cause of their problems and see me more as a smasher than a fixer. Yet often, because I refuse to pick a side, because I am my own side, I bring opposing groups together, united against the same enemy – Me.
For groups to exist, they need other groups even if that other group consists solely of one person. For sides to exist, they need other sides. Right needs wrong. Therefore introverts need extroverts, so they can be introverts. If you take away the concept of right and wrong, of opposites, there is nothing to define anything, and judgment, sides, and such things fall apart. Then people have to think for themselves, stand alone, and be seen and counted as an individual. This can be very confusing and disconcerting for some so they prefer to huddle together and form groups and cliques and bands of merry men and women… who point at other groups and shout at them ‘We’re better than you and we’re glad we’re not you because you suck!’. It’s silly, it can get very serious, and it is a very human thing to do.
I came to the conclusion when I first became aware of the existence of introversion and extroversion, that I was probably an introverted extrovert. On the outside I am a loner who likes being alone, on the inside I am very sociable and I love being in the company of others… just not always real others. Real others are great, but when they start not being great, that’s when I make my exit and go off to spend time with myself. And usually they start not being great when they want me to pick a side to be on, or when they decide what side I am on for me because I insulted them by not immediately agreeing with their views, and then they play some game about it, usually trying to get back at me for the perceived hurt I have apparently caused them by thinking for myself and not joining their hive mind.
I don’t need anyone else to define myself to myself or to anyone else. I have nothing to prove. I am who I am, it changes sometimes, and that’s fine by me. I don’t need someone else to be wrong so I can be right, I don’t need them to be right for me to be wrong. I am sometimes right, sometimes wrong, sometimes neither, and sometimes both, and I can figure it out for myself. Or not.
I observed someone a while ago who enjoys bashing extroverts. The main reason they bash extroverts is because they want to be one. This person thinks they are an introvert and they are miserable about it. They blame extroverts for their introverted misery. I’m not sure if I agree with their assessment that they are introverted because of the fact that they seem to hate all the things about introversion which true introverts love.
Using their reasoning that you have to be one or the other without any in between, no shades of grey, no black and white combined, just black or white, then I guess my thinking that they’re not introverted would mean I think they’re extroverted. They do tend to share every thought and emotion they have with others. Introverts don’t feel the need to do that. But what they share is predominantly negative, can someone be a negative extrovert? Well, according to this person all extroverts are bad, so I guess they are negative. But do they think all introverts are good, thus positive? This person also thinks they are a paragon of positivity, and thinks everyone else, introverts and extroverts alike, rains on their positive parade with negativity.
To me this person is the opposite of everything which they think they are, or at least everything they loudly proclaim about themselves to anyone who will listen and even those who don’t want to listen. They seem to hate those who are what they want to be, thus they also hate who they are for not being who they want to be, which means they sort of hate everyone and everything.
This is often the impulse behind criticism, judgment and hating. People hate the rich because they want to be rich, and they see themselves as being poor (and I’m not only talking in terms of money). They hate the powerful because they want power, and see themselves as being powerless. They hate the beautiful because they want to be beautiful, and they see themselves as being ugly. And so on. What happens if they become who they want to be? Do they then stop hating that? Do they then hate the opposite? Don’t they already hate the opposite of the thing which they hate? Perhaps the only thing they truly like is hate. Hating defines them, without it they do not know who they are.
I like introverts and extroverts. Neither one nor the other is better or worse. They are just ways we use to express who we are, they are not who we are. We are all multifaceted, able to be so much more that just negative or positive, introverted or extroverted, and a billion other classifications and play of opposites.
I have elements of both, and can express both. So I guess I’m an ambivert.
What about you?