I am sure you have been asked this question before. Are you an introvert or an extrovert? I have recently pondered this question myself. For some people this is an easy question to answer, but for many, including myself, it is difficult.
To the outside world I may appear as an extrovert. I can be very friendly and can act social when I am out and about. Sometimes I talk a lot, as I have too much to say. I also love to speak publicly about topics I am passionate about, like mental illness, promoting good mental health and mental illness, ending mental illness stigma, suicide and suicide prevention.
Even though I can appear very social, friendly, likable and like an extrovert, people are not aware how I feel inside. I may be struggling inside, but can hide that part of myself to make others comfortable around me or because I need to share imperative information in a situation or at a speaking engagement.
Many times it is a daunting task to get out of my house and socialize, but once I am out I usually enjoy being around others and am usually good at it. This of course depends on the social setting, environment, people around me, my current mood pole and my intrinsic characteristics I am feeling and experiencing. Sometimes I am fully comfortable with my social settings and experiences and other times I am not. My extroversion varies.
Many times I am an introvert. I love being alone and thrive in my inner world inside myself. One misconception is that people who are introverts are shy. This is not always the case. You can be an introvert and not be shy. I am an introvert, but I am not shy.
Introverts tend to feel drained after socializing and regain their energy by spending time alone. Sometimes I can be very social but it becomes exhausting. Maybe that is because I am more of an introvert than I am an extrovert most of the time, and leaning more strongly to being an introvert. I don’t lie in the middle of the spectrum but instead fluctuate between being an introvert and extrovert. People that know me well would not define me as an introvert.
We should never force ourselves to be something or someone we are not. If an introvert tries to be an extrovert too often, it can cause them to burn out, crash and reach a deep dark depression and/or have anxiety. This has happened to me many times when I tried to be someone or something I was not.
It’s important to find where you are in the introversion/extroversion scale. By increasing your awareness of your type, you can develop a better sense of your personality characteristics and focus on your strengths.
Sometimes I fall in the middle of the extrovert and introvert spectrum. I am an ambivert and it is comforting knowing where I lie in the personality types.
The trick to being an ambivert is knowing when to force yourself to lean toward one side of the spectrum when it isn’t happening naturally. Ambiverts with low self-awareness and low self-esteem struggle with this. I used to often and occasionally still do. Now that I am aware of this, I can work on not forcing myself when I am not there.
“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.” –Bruce Lee
Adam Grant at Wharton found that two-thirds of people don’t strongly identify as introverts or extroverts. These people, which are the vast majority of us, are called ambiverts. Ambiverts have both introverted and extroverted tendencies. A balance of both would be considered an ambivert. The direction ambiverts lean toward varies greatly, depending on the situation.
Some introverts need their solitude as much as extroverts need their social interaction. As an ambivert, I need a little of both worlds. Recently I have been enjoying my solitude more than social interactions. Over the years, the severity of my bipolar symptoms caused me to isolate too much. Isolating has turned into a bad habit, but bad habits can be broken.
I understand it is imperative for me to socialize. I need to step out of my comfort zone, partake in some groups and find good people to be friends with. I may need to take baby steps in making this change as I am an ambivert, but that is okay. I just need to find a good balance with the introverted and extroverted parts of my personality.
First learn who you are. Then accept who are and embrace yourself lovingly. Love yourself. Learn to work with yourself versus fighting against yourself. Become the best version of yourself you can be.
“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” ~ Ram Dass
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