Are You An Ambivert? Here’s How To Stay Balanced
A Little Bit Introvert,
A Little Bit Extrovert
Whenever I’d take those Myers-Briggs tests in the past, I’d get the big ‘E’ for extrovert. I always assumed it was accurate; after all, I’m not afraid to strike up a conversation and do enjoy being social (and sometimes even the center of attention). Lately, however, my inner introvert has taken over, full force. I find myself desperately craving alone time and using it to do what brings me joy: reading, watching shows, watching YouTube videos, being creative, taking walks, and—most importantly—recharging. I can’t get enough.
Upon retaking the Myers-Briggs recently, I got the ‘I’ for introvert—but only by a narrow margin of 53%. When I announced these results, my coworker suggested I may be an ambivert, someone with qualities of an extrovert and introvert. I had to agree. Whether I want to be social or not totally depends on my mood and the circumstances. Maybe there’s a bit of an ambivert in all of us. After all, even the most reserved individuals need human contact and outgoing types need alone time.
I often find that, to be my best self, I need time to be by myself. First and foremost, I need a good night’s sleep. Then, I need to get inspired—whether that’s by something I consume or something I am creating. I also try to educate myself on current events and social and environmental issues I care about. When I feel good about myself and how I’m spending my time, it makes me a more confident and secure person.
If I go out begrudgingly or make plans I secretly want to cancel, I’m not the most fun to be around. The last thing I want is to come across as uninterested, bored, or tired—but there are times when I feel burnt out and can’t fully be present in social situations. That’s why I’ve started using my planner to mark down events or friend hangouts I’m really looking forward to; and save up my energy accordingly.
There was a time when I could go out four or even five nights a week. Back in my hometown, where many events were within walking distance, I used to make a point to see and be seen as much as possible. I prioritized going out even if I felt tired or had an early morning the next day. A lot of my friends at the time did the same. We’d go out night after night, never wanting to miss out. After a long summer and fall of being constantly social, it all came to a screeching halt. I was burnt out.
That’s when I learned the importance of balance. I realized that I need to recharge and I had to look to my mood and instinct to know what to do. When I’ve been too busy socially and feel drained, I know I need to be alone to recharge. When I’ve been holed up in my apartment for days on end, I know I need human interaction to recharge. I don’t pressure myself to go out when I’m not feeling like it. Instead, I know that if I take it easy, I’ll have the energy to go out another time and be a more energetic person to be around.
Being an ambivert means being able to lean into whatever I’m comfortable with and not forcing it. That may mean that, around some people, I come across as more introverted. Around others, I’m more extroverted. Sometimes I’m feeling super chatty; other times, I want to be more quiet and observe what’s going on around me. When I’m not feeling something, I don’t push myself out of my own comfort zone. I’ve learned to respect my own boundaries and put my needs before this obligation to be social or “always on the go.”
We’re so often told, from a young age, that slowing down equates to laziness. If you’re not constantly doing something, whether that’s work or play, you’re wasting your time. This is something we all have to unlearn. The mentality that we have to be nonstop can be harmful. We may overwork ourselves, make more plans that we can follow through with, and feel guilty for taking time to ourselves. All of this leads to burnout and stress.
Some of my greatest joys come from this inner solitude that accompanies not having any obligations. Some of my best days came after a good night’s sleep. Some of my most interesting thoughts came from introspection on a quiet day. I find that when I have the time to slow down, I’m ready for all of life’s curveballs.
Are you an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert? Share in the comments below!
Belinda Cai is a multimedia journalist who frequently writes about lifestyle, social and environmental justice, and identity and culture. She has a master’s in journalism and communications from the University of Southern California, and hails from Cincinnati, Ohio. When she’s not writing, she’s Wikipedia-spiraling, staying active, enjoying nature, and thrifting. Check out her website and Instagram.