Ambivert- (n). A person whose personality has a balance of extrovert and introvert features. I have been an ambivert for as long as I can remember. My mom likes to tell this story of me as a baby where I would be happy and playful and suddenly I would become fussy and I clearly just needed space. My mom would tell people, "Just set her down and give her a couple minutes". Sure enough after I had those few minutes to regroup, I was ready to be a friendly baby again.
It's different when you get older, though, because you can't just cry and push people away anymore and expect them to patiently wait for you to bounce back. People don't always understand how you can be both extroverted and introverted at the same time because most people fit into one category or the other: quiet and soft-spoken or comfortable with all the attention. They don't always understand how you can be so confident, loud, and obnoxious one minute then you need time to be by yourself the next. They don't always understand how you you actually like spending time by yourself and it has nothing to do with your feelings towards them. They don't always understand how exhausting it is to figure out how and where to invest your limited amount of energy throughout each day.
Because that's exactly what we do: it's like we start the day with 100 pennies. Eating a meal out with friends will cost 22 pennies, stressing about homework and other responsibilities will cost 31 pennies, going anywhere like the mall or to the movies or anything really will probably cost about 45 pennies if it involves socialization (not because socializing as seen as a chore, rather this is when we become extroverted and it takes a lot of energy). Then you're left with 2 pennies before you know you're going burn out, and sometimes you get stuck. You can't leave or escape so you have to force yourself to continue to be "fun" and "witty" when all you really want to do is close your eyes and wrap yourself in a blanket for about 23 minutes.
This is why sometimes we choose not to do certain things with others. If we can't mathematically figure out how to string our days together and balance our energy properly, we know the wave of exhaustion coming our way. I hope other ambiverts out there can relate to these confessions and characteristics from a fellow ambivert.
1. Sometimes we wear a mask that is basically labeled “extrovert”.
This is not to say that all extroverts are obnoxious; some are just sociable. But I know when my extroverted side comes out, I am loud, proud and looking for attention.
2. Other times the mask comes off and we just can’t “people” anymore.
I always want to leave if it becomes too "people-y".
3. We need time to recharge.
It doesn't take long; but it's necessary for the survival of an ambivert. Too many things going on (especially if there's little time in between) does not end well for us.
4. We like spending time by ourselves just as much as spending time with people.
I love my people. But I also kinda like me.
Custodians? Love em. Workers from the Hill? They know me by name. Random people at the grocery store? We're friends now. I get this one from my mama (she's even worse though- most of the time I really think she knows the person).
6. Other people's energy helps to determine our own.
This one is interesting because sometimes we feed off other's high energy but other times we don't like to fight for the spotlight if someone else has it. Sometimes we join in and other times we get it started; energy is complicated. We are complicated.
7. We become standoffish when we’re uncomfortable, intimidated, or unsure how to balance our energy levels.
I'm the queen of standoffish behavior. Passive aggressiveness is not far behind. I'm so sorry.
8. We look forward to unwinding after a long day, week, month, year, life.
It's the only thing to get us through when we're dangerously close to the burn-out zone.
9. We are often comfortable as the center of attention and are able to lead a whole group confidently.
I gotchu fam. (Most of the time).
10. Some people assume we are quiet and shy all the time.
Especially in classes. Or when we're walking somewhere alone. So many reasons to be introverted and save up that precious energy.
11. We are like the definition of a wallflower.
Take it all in. Adjust our energy. Repeat.
12. We are constantly thinking and observing, and reacting to these thoughts and observations. Being an ambivert is quite exhausting; but it's all we know.
It's definitely exhausting but it's also kinda cool; we have the best of both worlds. It's just hard to explain to others because it is an inconsistent phenomenon. In the end though, it's all we know.