Self-exploration is an amazingly powerful thing to do and it’s something I have been cognoscente of for a long time (you can read a little bit more about that in my life lessons). It’s something I have seen as a gift ever since, being open to looking inward and knowing myself.
Of course with everything that happens in life, it isn’t always front of mind and I need to refresh that bank of self-awareness to be my best and most positive self. Lately I have been back on the self reflection wagon as I work my way through my Beautiful You Coaching Academy (BYCA) course and there have been lots of discoveries but one of my favourites, and most interesting has been about busting the myths of extroverts and introverts and I hope this might shine a light for some of you too.
Anyone who knows me would say I was an extrovert straight away – I am an ENFP on the Myers Briggs scale. I myself, identified as a full blown extrovert for a long time but I think as I’ve got older I know to be more honest with myself about who I am.
The course has shone some really interesting light on introversion and I’ve seen the lovely Katherine MacKenzie-Smith and Elizabeth Rose speak on busting the myths of being an introvert. And really that’s when I started to question myself and my own traits and habits in relation to identifying as an E or an I. I was pretty sure I wasn’t an introvert, but some really clear bells were ringing for me so out of curiosity I did a little test…
So as an extrovert (hands up if this sounds like you!):
- I’m animated and chatty with people that I know
- I share personal stories
- I can be the life and soul when I’m comfortable with the crowd
- I work in communications which in itself is a ‘social’ and chatty role that needs confidence in groups
- in a structured session such as a meeting or small seminar I will speak up and give ideas quite readily
- give me a challenge or a task (structure) in an unfamiliar group and I’m your girl for getting down to it and adding the enthusiasm and ideas
….yeah I’m pretty bloody E.
But then… I have recognised ever since my bout of living on my own, my introverted tendencies and they are coming up more and more as I become more aware of introverted traits:
- I crave time alone
- I need silence, and I find the noise of the TV or radio really offensive if I’m in a reflective mood
- my job can leave me drained and I’ll have to say to Janis ‘I’ve been talking all day I need to just be quiet’
- when major things happen to me I often keep them to myself and process them for a while – sometimes not telling my friends or family until well after the event has occured and I am clear how I feel about it
- conversely, people tell me stuff because I can listen when needed
- I find networking totally overwhelming and draining and will stand awkwardly in a corner considering my move or look for someone I have ‘met’ through social media to save me
- I overthink asking a question in a large group and usually as I’m about to do it, the time has passed (I’ve been challenging myself in BYCA to always make a comment or ask a question in our phone seminars)
…and a whole lotta I.
It’s so NOTICEABLE the differences between my E self and I self I really wanted to explore further and discovered that psychologists are now starting to focus on the middle of the scale – ambiverts. And turns out I’m an ambivert – are you? The concept has been around since the 1940s but so much work has been done on the extrovert and introvert end of the scale it’s only just coming back around again to talk about ambiverts and study the pros and cons of this personality type.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal noted the basic traits of an ambivert as:
- Socially flexible—comfortable in social situations or being alone.
- Skilled at communicating—intuits when to listen or to talk.
- Moderate in mood—not overly expressive or reserved.
- Adaptable—no default mode, so they change their approach to fit the situation
And actually ambiverts are very common – around half the population are thought to be ambiverts and to be honest for me, it’s a relief to not expect myself to ‘live up to’ the extrovert traits that I’ve branded myself with for so long. It’s OK that the questions in a personality tests can throw me off (would you rather walk alone on the beach or go to a party with friends – ummm depends on the day?!).
So after pouring all of this out I’m off for some quiet time….