This question popped up in a discussion thread on Facebook yesterday:
Beth, have you observed the varying degrees of introversion? Do you think there are hybrid innies?
Besides learning the real definitions of “introvert” and “extrovert,” the answer to this question seems to result in the most relief among people I have presented to over the past two years.
Part of the answer is that we all have introvert and extrovert qualities and preferences. The power comes from knowing which one is more dominant. Once you know which team you bat for, you can make intentional choices that support your energy needs. You can be more proactive about taking care of yourself, rather than doing reactive damage control.
But what if you can bat for both teams? Here’s what I shared as my answer to the Facebook question:
“Kristen, great question. There’s a term – ambiverts – that describes those who walk the line between introversion and extroversion. We’re all on a continuum, with some leaning way more to one side than the other, and lots of us close to the middle. I talk about core vs cultivated energy… we have our core, in-born and preferred way to re-energize and process, and we have a cultivated way that we’ve developed to fit into social/professional situations. So, I’m a core innie with some cultivated outtie abilities that enable me to get my butt out of the house when I need to get in front of people. Introverts can cultivate the ability to project their energy outward when needed (like when public speaking or participating in a meeting), and extroverts can cultivate the ability to project energy inward (when they need to listen or be more reflective).
“To that end, I also prefer to speak about introversion/extroversion as energetic types, as opposed to personality types. That helps us return to the root meaning of the phrases, which is about where our energy is derived and directed. Otherwise, we get caught up in thinking it’s all about social skills and nothing else.”
When I share the term “ambiverts,” there is always a smattering of faces in the audience that light up with delight. They say, “oh, that’s what I think I am!” They start to understand why people can both energize and drain them, why quiet time can leave them buoyed or bored. They listen to descriptions of core introvert and extrovert traits and find themselves split down the middle… not just depending on the circumstances, but in everyday life.
Carl Jung offered this: “The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.” In the area of the human psyche, one size never fits all. However you see yourself – innie, outtie or ambi – you have thousands of shades of gray (and color!) that paint a picture of the complex and wonderful human being that you are.
Self-awareness is one of the critical keys to happiness… along with that, self-acceptance. Understand your energy, own your energy and embrace the exploration of the more nuanced aspects of yourself, knowing it will enrich your entire life.
What do you think? Do you identify more with innie, outtie or ambi traits? What’s helped you to build self-awareness and self-acceptance? Please share in the comments!
PS: Looking for resources to support awareness and acceptance? I’m pleased to share that I’ve published a book to help with just that! It’s called “Insight: Reflections on the Gifts of Being an Introvert,” and you can learn more here: http://www.BethBuelow.com/insight-reflections-on-the-gifts-of-being-an-introvert
Featured Image: A sampling of “likes” (used with permission) from http://facebook.com/theintrovertentrepreneur