Being an Ambivert

Rainbow girl
Credit: Flickr / Mizrak

I fall right in the middle of introversion-extraversion, so whilst some seek out solitude, and others seek out constant stimulation I swing between them. Introverts find my social circle overwhelming, extroverts my love of living alone bizarre. And so I’ll organise social events, be the centre of attention, and take a long vacation solo. And all of these things make me happy, although finding the balance between them can be a challenge. 10 days alone in Bali, and I got pretty weird at times. The social demands of a two week work trip left me dreaming of increasingly dramatic ways to be alone. Run away to Dublin to see an art exhibition! Take an impromptu ski trip solo!

The hardest part is the transition between – too much time alone, and I start to love it top much, in theory I want to speak to another human being again but it starts to seem like hard work, scary. Too much time with people, and I am desperate to be by myself, but somehow also afraid of it – maybe that is why the more desperate I am for some Cate-time, the more that becomes part of a fantasy that involves leaving the country.

Too much social time makes me jittery, and then I go back to the norm, try to settle down to code, or write, and have a hard time focusing. I want a couple of hours, ideally a day, if I’m really social-ed out, to get comfortable with it again. I’ll read a book, go to the gym. I remember a weekend with an introvert boyfriend, and we separated for a while one evening – a late brunch and chilling out extended through the afternoon, and then we had plans in the evening. He was happy to get an hour to himself. To me that was so stressful, figuring out how to be alone and then having to be around someone again before I had relaxed into it.

The easiest way to upset me is to flake on me, much of which relates to my feelings about how time is so precious to me. But I’ve noticed, when people flake and I’m in introvert mode I don’t care as much. It’s much more stressful to me when I’m in extrovert mode, maybe because of this challenge with transitioning between them.

I think related to this, for all there are many people who I really like and happy to spend time with, I don’t feel like I have the time or inclination for people I have nothing in common with, or don’t really like. I love being with people I love, but I also love being alone, so there is no need to spend time with people for the sake of it. Often I just don’t engage in conflict, because I think it’s inefficient. I suck at small talk, a cursory interest in current affairs, or media might help me there, but I don’t bother.

One thing that I’ve observed, is the more social my work-life, the less social my personal one. These ebb and flow, and normally I can mostly stay within some range of balance. An evening during the week, just for me. A day at the weekend. A long walk. An entire novel.

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