Signs you might actually be somewhere in the middle of the spectrum and how to tap into the strengths of both

I find taking personality tests both exciting and frustrating. It seems as though every time I take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), or a similar assessment, I wind up with a different result than the last. I need solitude as often as I need company. I love being social but crave time on my own. If I have too much alone time on my hands, I get restless. And depending on who you ask, I am either an introvert or an extrovert to them.

Until recently, I had never known which side of the spectrum I fall on. As a twenty-something, I am more aware of the times I feel introverted than the times I feel extroverted. But in a world that wants to classify you as either one or the other, it's time to embrace being the middleman—the ambivert.

Being an ambivert, in a sense, is the best of both worlds.

Instead of being on either extreme of the temperaments, ambiverts splice the spectrum and challenge the traditional understanding of psychological preferences. Extroverts are known to extract much of their energy by being proactive and highly sociable beings. Introverts, on the other hand, tend to be more reserved and introspective. An ambivert, meanwhile, has a particular percentage of tendencies towards introversion as well as extroversion. 

The good news is that most of us actually fall within this category. According to Barry Smith, Professor Emeritus and Director of the Laboratories of Human Psychophysiology at the University of Maryland, 68% of the population is ambiverted. 

Given the complexity of personality, it’s difficult to determine your exact temperament. By embracing ambivertedness, you’re able to unlock your potential and work with your unique personality. But how do ambiverts benefit from being both introverted and extroverted? While it seems conflicting and at times confusing, ambiverts actually have some great strengths. Below are a few advantages unique to ambiverts.

You are a people person who also loves to be alone.

One of the greatest advantages of being an ambivert is that you relish spending time with others, but you can also handle being on your own. You probably have a hate/love relationship when working with a group (I know I do). You’re comfortable with either scenario, but oftentimes can’t decide which is worse or better.

While it may seem contradictory, this can actually be quite advantageous. You wield the ability to work well with others while also being able to work efficiently when in solitude. Listen to your instincts. When you are able to discern the appropriate times to be more introverted than extroverted—or vice versa—you’re bound to not only bring out the best in yourself, but in others as well.

You are remarkably intentional about your time.

Because ambiverts alternate from needing to be alone and being with others, you derive your authenticity from spending your time with purpose. Ambiverts are especially conscientious about how they spend their time, which is important in order to maximize productivity and also self-assurance. You know when and where and with whom the introverted and extroverted parts of you serve you best.

Know when it’s okay to say yes and to say no, because how you spend your time is crucial. By knowing the times to act more as an introvert or more as an extrovert, you’re making the most of your multifaceted personality.

You find strength in empathizing.

As an ambivert, you recognize your own gifts and abilities while understanding and appreciating how other people’s gifts and abilities differ from yours. The introverted and reflective side of you empowers you to be a good listener, while the extroverted and outgoing side of you helps you to connect and reach out to other people. This balance provides you with a unique ability to act with empathy. Especially because you understand what it’s like to be both the introvert and the extrovert, you’re more likely to be able to understand both sides of a situation.

If any of this resonates with you, you’re more than likely an ambivert. It has taken me years to understand why I had been feeling so betrayed by personality tests—but now I get it. When you finally begin to make the best of your introverted and extroverted qualities, you recognize the value of your uniqueness.

Photo Credit: Nirav Patel