There is a Word for People Like Me: AMBIVERT (A Personal Reflection)

A while ago I recognized myself in one of the five newspapers/sites I check during my morning coffee in bed. I don’t remember where I read about what I thought was something unique I had not been able to put into words before: You can be introvert and extrovert at the same time. So-called ambiverts actually often make better leaders than either of the two opposites.

A quiet only child, I could sit for hours with pen and paper or just a toy Bentley or some Legos. I had few friends, played no sports and I actually remember my mother’s anger and frustration that I didn’t want to be like other children and play outside.

But at the same time, I recited Luke in church for Christmas and took every other opportunity I came across to speak in public. When I taught myself to play guitar, I had people (girls) smile and sing along with me but I seldom felt comfortable making small talk or more with them.

I was president of my class in my Swedish high school but hardly ever socialized. I taught photography to 9th graders as a school project. I spent a summer at the Boy Scout Center in Kandersteg, Switzerland, teaching scouts from all over the world how to build shelters and bridges using rope lashings. And I spent a semester between the army and medical school as a substitute teacher and thrived standing in front of both enthusiastic and uninterested students.

And I became a doctor, a “docere” – educator, therapist, life coach in today’s vernacular. But I had no social life to speak of until I became a ballroom dancer. Then, I was out there, so much that he dance floor always seemed too small for my fancy swing and Lindy Hop kicks.

And here I am, all alone on the farm with just the animals, not spending any of my personal time with other human beings, writing blogs that are read all over the world, getting royalty payments from several countries for my books and networking online to market them to more doctors, students and medical educators. And I’m even recording and posting videos with ad-libbed patient education talks.

I even reactivated my dormant Facebook account and found an outlet for my creativity outside medicine. I post pictures and stories and feel quite content with my virtual friendships that occur without spoken words. Once I leave my clinic, I don’t speak, basically.

For years now, I have felt increasingly content just being who I am but there is a sense of ordinariness to know that I am not as much of an aberration as I thought I was. Sure, we are all unique, but I like knowing that there is a name for people like me.

It’s a little bit like my dietary preferences: I went from being a picky eater to a vegetarian (just for consistency) and on to what I now call recovering vegetarian (embracing two opposites). Now I am not an introvert trying to be an extrovert. I am an ambivert, plain and simple.

3 Responses to “There is a Word for People Like Me: AMBIVERT (A Personal Reflection)”

  1. 1 Keith Stelter July 3, 2021 at 7:21 am

    Thank you for finally opening the door to more of my self understanding. On my Myers-Briggs I have always felt a sense of embarrassment on my “I” score or rating, and wondered how could that be since I end up being in the leadership of many organizations I join and I truly like doing things with other people that better the world in some way. I think I should have a t-shirt made with this word on it!

  2. 2 anxious millennial July 18, 2021 at 6:05 pm

    Interesting, I just found out I might be an ambivert myself, it makes so much sense! i will definitely read more about this.

  3. 3 Jana Inwood September 13, 2021 at 1:41 pm

    Interesting. I’d never heard of the alternate term “ambivert”. I am an introvert. But in learning about personality types, the definition of introvert I’d heard frequently, was that they could make the best instructors and leaders in some ways. This is because when an introvert knows their subject matter, or cares passionately about a platform, they are very effective in teaching that material or leading that efforts. The reason is because performing that activity, for an introvert, isn’t about them, it’s about the material. I read somewhere that some of the best actors considered themselves to be an introvert.

    An extrovert can do the same activity, but there is more of “them” in their presentation and leadership style.

    The best differentiator of which style you are is if being with people recharges you, or exhausts you. Or conversely, does being alone recharge you (introvert), or stress you (extrovert).

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