Ambivert, Introvert, Extrovert

Well, I guess that result kind of makes sense:

Based on your responses, you’re an ambivert. That means you fall smack in the middle of the introvert-extrovert spectrum. In many ways, ambiverts have the best of both worlds, able to tap into the strengths of both introverts and extroverts as needed. See below for information on introverts and extroverts; you’ll likely see part of yourself in both.

I still see myself falling more in the introverted spectrum than the extroverted one though, a lot of what they state are characteristic of ‘extroverts’ don’t really apply to me. For quite a few questions my response was ‘neutral’, which sometimes meant ‘it depends, really’.

I’m not against championing for the ‘quiet people’ out there who may not thrive as well in today’s largely extroverted world, but for some reason I simply couldn’t get through Quiet by Susan Cain. Ruben discovered this book around the time it was first released in Australia (I think) and often mentioned to me how he would read it while nodding his head to all of it, agreeing. Thinking that it could throw some light on my own experience I set out to read it too, but found that it simply irritated me because it’s description of ‘introversion’ didn’t match mine, or at least no longer matched my own.

I could see a lot of those traits in myself in the past, but I seem to have changed so much these past 2-3 years that a lot of these traits don’t seem to apply anymore. Perhaps I’m not a fan of Susan Cain even now because I’m just irritated that the message being given out now is ‘I’m a quiet person and this is okay’, and this feels lazy rather than acknowledging ‘there are parts of me I could change’.

But I’m not stupid enough to think that that really is necessarily what she’s saying. You only have to read about how Susan studied others’ presentation styles until she found her own to see that she is conquering her introversion in a sense on her own terms.

Thanks to the miracle of desensitization (exposing yourself in small doses to the thing you fear) and to the great joy of speaking on a subject I’m passionate about, ironically I now have a career as…a public speaker.

Yet I feel like this is what people will read from it - I’m an introvert, and that is okay and there is no reason to change who I am in the slightest. No reason to aim for better?

But Clara, you say. That’s not right. Okay, let’s stop for a moment.

“Speaking is not an act of extroversion,” observes Malcolm Gladwell, another introverted writer who spends plenty of time on stage. “It has nothing to do with extroversion. It’s a performance, and many performers are hugely introverted.”

Now this I can’t understand. You’re getting up and technically interacting with huge numbers of people, but this is not an act of introversion? To be honest, I don’t understand how recording a podcast is not an act of introversion either.

So what is my dislike of speaking, if it’s not introversion? My problem isn’t that I don’t like being around people or in large groups, I just don’t like opening my mouth and often don’t see a point and would rather just listen because everyone else is so loud to begin with. And for this reason I was always called quiet.

Why is this book even called ‘Quiet’? Maybe it should be called ‘Withdrawn’. Fuck me and colour me confused.

In any case.

I can see that it’s definitely something that society as a whole needs to work on - in accepting that it’s not only extroversion that is valid in this world. Yet at the same time, I can’t help but think to those that need 4 days to recover after a social event ‘get real’ - most of us can’t afford that sort of luxury when most jobs involve socialising day in and day out. If you’re able to find an isolated job where you can comfortably just do your work without conversing with others - you’re one of the lucky ones. But am I just part of the problem? Because I’m endorsing this ‘extroverted society’?

Adam Grant recounts how more students are raising their hands and admitting they’re introverts these days, like introversion was something to be ashamed about. I’m being honest here when I say I never, ever thought it was a bad thing - not even when I was in primary school and the report card came back saying ‘Clara is a quiet and conscientious student, but should participate more in class’. Being given this advice, I actually continued to maintain my level of quietness and ‘non-participation’ in class because personally I didn’t feel anything was wrong with that.

I loved that teachers thought I was ‘as quiet as a mouse’, because that’s the kind of child which I thought was ideal. Children should be seen and not heard!

I’m joking a little, but I was always actually proud to be the quiet kid in the class that was ‘quiet but conscientious’. I liked that I was different, yet at the same time I wanted to fit in.

Before reading it, they saw introversion as a liability. As actress Emma Watson (a.k.a. Hermione Granger) laments, “If you’re anything other than an extrovert you’re made to think there’s something wrong with you.”

Now this is just my experience, but I honestly never did think anything was wrong with my being quiet - though obviously the teachers always did. I sought out that word in my report cards with a measure of joy, though I knew my parents would only seize on ‘needs to participate more’ like I was a lazy-ass student, which I might have been. I wonder why my opinion on the matter ever since I was a child is just so different?

I think the major problem here that I have is the fact that the words ‘introverted’ and ‘extroverted’ get thrown around so much now, it feels extremely polarising like you need to be on one extreme end of the spectrum or the other.

But not everyone is one or the other, and it would seem that Adam Grant in a way seems to be advocating for changing yourself to become more or less introverted in order to become more ambiverted with his last statement. In that sense, are we endorsing or not endorsing our current society? Thankfully, it seems Susan Cain does too, as she states “[t]eachers should think about providing alternatives” and “the idea is just to maximize choice” which is a fair enough request.

So it’s not necessarily their message that I have an issue with, but it’s all the titles that it has been given - even from their own hands as I clicked on the titles of these articles in frustration. And it’s the way that it can potentially be misconstrued by others.

I don’t know. I’m not an expert, I’m not an academic, I’ve never even done any research further than reading what people are saying about introversion online and finding that I don’t like it. Maybe I should grow a thicker skin and try to finish reading Quiet by Susan Cain, but still, somehow, this whole thing is just unsettling to me.


I just wanted to also write a few brief points in response to two articles. The first is How to overcome the fear of putting yourself out there, and what I say will sound like excuses (but I’m putting myself out there by posting it, I guess?):

  1. The problem with this point is I’m sure they actually had something interesting to say though. I’m sure this first sentence only illustrates I have mental issues that are not rooted in introversion hah.
  2. Tweeting has never felt like a creative project, though blogging sure has because it requires so much extra effort from me that I’m exhausted after writing a few. I can’t imagine using social media for self-promotion because that would be stifling…
  3. I wish coffee worked for me.
  4. Writing is getting more rooted in bitterness for me now, I think if I didn’t feel compelled to do it I probably wouldn’t because I prefer to be a consumer than a producer, but someone who only consumes doesn’t feel to me like they have much worth in life.
  5. I don’t really like the ‘alone together’ idea. If you want to be alone, then just go be alone. It kind of feels half assed. I love sharing ideas with people, because it helps extend my thinking - perhaps they do only ‘talk together’ and ‘exchange information’, but ‘they do not create’ baffles me. Yes, it’s me the ignoramus questioning an expert.
  6. I don’t think clearly in the morning, and at night I’m so sleepy that it’s that which affects thinking just the same. I did used to do most of my creative writing at 3AM though, which are how most of my fanfictions sprung up, but it has the duel effect of making me extremely, extremely tired all the time.
  7. I’ve never had firm opinions, in fact I’m sure that a lot of my opinions sometimes end up borrowed from people after I’ve assessed a few people’s opinions. But I’m posting this post because it’s my opinion.

And the second is to How to teach a young introvert, from my Australian school experience:

  • All day long, you are in a classroom full of people with constant stimulation. - I tilt my head slightly at the idea of stimulation. It doesn’t feel stimulating when people ignore you so that you feel alone anyway, or when you ignore them.
  • So we should identify problems when they are there — like a student who would really love to make friends but doesn’t know how. - How do you know if the kid with only one or two students doesn’t have this problem and has these two friends by chance? Is it better safe than sorry?
  • But think about what we expect children to do for their birthday parties. - I haven’t had a birthday party in many, many years and I don’t recall who decided to invite who, but I was always happy to actually get some attention.
  • Have 15 minutes set aside every day where the students just read. - In primary school there was a time of day called ‘DEAR’ or otherwise known as ‘Drop Everything And Read’, and this would happen every week for about 30-45 minutes. I loved these times of day because I could continue reading my novel in the class, rather than doing school work.
  • Make sure that the classroom design accommodates nooks and crannies so you’re not just reading within groups of people, but you can go and sit on a sofa in the classroom and curl up with your book. - It’s hard for me to see a school that would actually put a sofa in a classroom and allow ‘curling up’, but when we did DEAR we often just sat whereever we liked. A few times I took to sitting on the floor and others would sit in various parts of the room other than their desks. What I’m getting at here is the student should be creative as well in where they want to go, rather than stick with a rigid mindset and rely on ‘classroom design’ to help them.
  • Teachers should think about providing alternatives to recess, which for many students is unnecessarily chaotic and not that interesting. - I never felt the pressure to run around and play on the playground. Myself alone, or with some friends would often just sit in a corner and converse or play card games. Again, its about your own ingenuity and creativity rather than being led. Also in primary school, you had the option to go to the library after the first half of lunch time, which was always where I would end up. There are choices if you look for them.
  • Then they pair up, and discuss their thoughts with their partner. - I support this idea all the way to university level.
  • Salman Khan’s model, where students do a lot of the hard work on their own the night before, and then come in and have the opportunity to engage one-on-one or in small groups with a teacher to resolve the remaining questions that they have. - I’m not a fan of this model. It’s been used in university for a few of my classes, and I dislike it intensely. This actually feels like constant work to me without the chance to unwind if I have to get home and get back into ‘study’ for the next day.
  • He found that for most people, it’s not a question of having superior talent, but rather a question of having engaged in many, many hours of really concentrated, deliberate practice at the craft that they wanted to master. - I see many people say this, yet I still believe that those with a seed of talent are able to go further and practice more than those without that spend the whole time struggling.
  • f you look at your typical school cafeteria, it is set up with the expectation that the students will eat lunch at gigantic tables full of kids. - I’ve never been in the ‘American cafeteria’ setup, but I’ve never felt this necessity even when I’ve sat at our rows of benches side by side. You can converse in your small group in a corner of the table - it’s about adapting to your environment too.
  • We should be getting away from school design that has students jostling together in one gigantic mass of humanity. - Isn’t that just society, so shouldn’t we be getting them used to it rather than making kids more withdrawn than ever because they feel they have a right to? It feels like it’s saying you should never change that aspect, when it can be changed on your own terms.

My point from the wall above is that it’s not changing the environment to suit the kids, it’s changing their mindset. Somehow ‘gigantic tables’ means ‘I need to talk to everyone’ and ‘running around on playground at recess’ means ‘I need to join in’ when you can easily make the choice not to and go somewhere else to sit and do what you like. Now I don’t know about the American system as opposed to the Australian I experienced, but I feel strongly that there are choices if you look for them even without drastically creating new spaces or replacing furniture.

But also the other takeaway from me is.. something I’ve forgotten now that I’ve articulated the above point. I’ll update if I ever remember what it is. I’ve been told ‘you’re wrong’ enough times in my life to think that this whole post will probably simply be answered with that, or ignored, but this whole ‘revolution’ is just unsettling to me.

In many ways I feel like I’ve been an introvert throughout my life from necessity - not choice, because I was simply alone whether I wanted to be or not. And having tasted ‘not being alone’ for once, I really don’t want to go back to it. But in other ways having been ‘introverted’, and now apparently not being so, I feel that people can change, and by holding on to things like ‘I’ve always needed 4 days to recover after a social engagement’ just reinforces your thoughts rather than potentially improving you and reducing that time. Yeah I don’t know if that made sense.

Well, tell me if I’m wrong or my fears are unfounded, because I’m sure I’m definitely wrong in some way. I would welcome the input. I would also welcome a psychiatrist’s appointment, but that will come one day…