Ambivert in Full Effect

I drove into Michigan yesterday to visit the Fam with Bleu and Zora.

My parents are headed to Florida this next week for a couple of months and I wanted to drop in to see them for a quick visit. The reality is that this trip requires a 4.5 hour drive each way–which to many is a huge undertaking. “Eeek! Way too much alone time!” For me, this trip is a quick fix (dose) of desperately needed ‘me’ time and in an odd way, the driving is a much needed mini-vacation in itself.

With my new job, I have no down time in a typical workday. There is no time throughout my day to think or reflect or simply be quiet. I spent nearly three years in my last job with my own office AND classroom, so I am used to a generous amount of personal space throughout my day. With this new gig, I work in a large general room with a desk and have little time or space to call my own. For this ambivert, who needs some solo time mixed into her overall daily schedule, I’m wiped out by the end of each week.

Depending on my mood, my solo road trips allow me to listen to music or fun fiction/thriller/escapist books on CD, catch up with family and friends on the phone (harder and harder to do these days), or to simply be quiet, focusing on my ideas and thoughts and issues. The time also allows me to dream and focus on new directions. Definitely, this is the introvert side of me needing to recharge my batteries while rolling solo.

Here is a post from 4 years ago that sums up my take on being an ambivert, someone who derives energy from being both an introvert and an extrovert.

From October 6, 2014:

I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test at different points in my life, the version where my place of employment paid a company serious money to administer the test and coach us on our results. I took it in my early twenties while I was a resident advisor at Northern Michigan University and then again in my late 20s when I was a Peace Corps Recruiter in Chicago. I’ve also taken a free online version a number of times over the years to explore my current ‘type’. For those of you not familiar Myers-Briggs, it is a personality test that over 2 million people take annually.  I am always on the fence with the results, both with the personality traits I am assigned and how much validity I give the test itself (see Why the Myers-Briggs test is totally meaningless).  However, one area I have found interesting over the years to track, is where I am in regards to extrovert (gaining energy from being around people) vs. introvert (recharging from being alone) and where I personally get my energy from. Some people who know me see me as a solid extrovert. I’m that person who gets a buzz from having a cool conversation with a stranger while waiting in line at the grocery store, I still remember a conversation I had with a Cuban businessman while traveling to St. Lucia for the first time 22 years ago and I gravitate towards jobs that are social in nature. However, there are others who know me as the solo traveler, who likes to cozy up with a great book or to watch a good movie, who recharges by being alone with my thoughts, who tends to think things through before I speak and who likes to write in an isolated space.

I was curious to see where I was after 4 months of a sabbatical/gap-term/bout of unemployment and so took an online quiz. I am an ENFJ this time–but barely, since my Extrovert and Intuitive traits show borderline marks. After reading Belle Beth Cooper’s Are You An Introvert Or An Extrovert?, a very thorough explanation of the differences between the two and taking the quiz she recommends, I realized I’m actually an Ambivert, a combination of extrovert and introvert that many of us embody. Ah ha! moment. Even though the term ambivert has been in use since 1927, I wasn’t aware of it, nor how it applies to me and how much I relate to the term.

Ambivert helps me understand what I’ve been doing the past 4 months. This has been a time for taking stock of my life and preparing to (gently) redirect it. After 5 years of living in New Orleans, we’ve needed to purge with this move and re-organize and re-purpose our remaining stuff, creating a living situation that is purposeful and conducive to living life fully. I’m so proud of myself, I only have a couple of Container Store organizers that I can’t find a current use for!  After 13 years of teaching in urban schools with all of the drama of No Child Left Behind, Race To The Top, Charters Schools, etc., I’ve needed to take a sabbatical from the classroom and figure out where my passions lie and where I’m headed next. With my sister being diagnosed with breast cancer this summer and needing to create my own cancer team here in Chicago, I’ve ended up re-visiting my own original diagnosis a little more than I had been prepared for going into this move. Recharging was imperative, regardless of how I got the job done!!

Spending a lot of time by myself with the dogs, regrouping and organizing our stuff, has been the more introverted me. Flitting off to Michigan to see family and friends, talking to fascinating people while standing in line at the bank or sitting in waiting rooms to take tests and meet new doctors, and attending a Gilda’s Club support group meeting have all been the extroverted me.

All of this together? The ambivert me.


2 thoughts on “Ambivert in Full Effect

  1. After I read the first part of the new post, I was thinking that this is not a solo road trip—your babies are with you!!! But compared to a classroom , yeah, totally solo and awesome alone time!!!! One of the best parts of our big family road trip out west this past August was leaving Yellowstone at 5 am while everyone was stone cold sleep 😴 and driving out of park as the sun rose. Then I got a flat tire in Cody, Wyoming….that was the end of solitude!


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