Welcome to Big Old Goofy World . . . a place where I can share my thoughts, hopes, and dreams about this rock that we live on and call home.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Old Dog, New Tricks?

Okay, apparently I am not too old to learn something new.  I guess I don’t know everything even though I have reached the age that wisdom becomes the prevalent mode from which people my age operate from . . . another myth down the drain!  But the fact is, I learned something new today.

What did I learn, you ask?

I learned about a new category of personality.  Like most people I was trained to believe that when it comes to personality . . . in particular the parts of the personality involving introversion and extroversion . . . that people were one or another.  You were either an introvert or an extrovert . . . plain and simple.  Then this morning I read a blog about a third category . . . ambiverts.  Huh? You say.  Me, too . . . I had never heard the word before and suddenly I was reading all about ambiverts.  My understanding of personality was suddenly blown out of the water . . . my world of “black and white”, introvert/extrovert was shattered as I read about these freaks of nature . . . these, these . . . ambiverts!

What exactly is an ambivert?  According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary an ambivert is “a person having characteristics of both extrovert and introvert.”  Interpretation . . . a freak of nature!

My understanding of personality . . . in particular taking personality assessments like the Myers Briggs or the Keirsey Bates is that an individual’s scores are based on a continuum from zero to ten going to the left and right of the zero.  Usually the introversion score is on the left side of the zero, the extroversion score is on the right.  A person is given a score for each . . . the higher score on the continuum is the preference of the individual.  So, for example if my score is a seven on the introversion side and a three on the extroversion side, more often than not I am going to prefer introversion over extroversion in particular situations.  But, what it is really saying is that I have a both traits within me.  Typically one is stronger than the other.  These assessments are scored that way so that people know what their preference is.  The bottom line is that all of us have both introversion and extroversion within us.  We just prefer one over the other.

Suddenly, upon learning this new knowledge, I felt like a fake . . . a sham.  I began to question whether or not I truly was an introvert or I was just faking it all of these years.  Fifty-six years down the drain!  It was something I needed to think about . . . something I needed to go off to a lonely place and contemplate for a while.  Do some more research.  Do some more brooding.  I guess I could have gone off and talked to someone about it, but that just didn’t feel right . . . so, I went off . . . by myself . . . and thought about it.  I did not want to be ambivalent about the whole thing.

One of the things that I stumbled across while brooding over this crisis of personality was a brief test that would determine (once and for all) whether or not I was an introvert, extrovert, or this new species called ambivert.  It was a short test of 18 statements of which a person is supposed to pick between five choices.  At the end of the test, you click a button, and your personality trait is given to you.  With such power to determine who I was staring me in the face . . . I did it.  I took the test.  The results?  I scored ambivert.  If you would like to take the test for yourself  go to this LINK.   I warn you now, be careful because you might not like the results . . . personally I think that the test is rigged.  I think everyone is going to score ambivert.

I actually believe that we are all ambiverts.  Remember that I stated that these assessments are set up on a continuum.  Upon the completion of the Myers Briggs or Keirsey Bates everyone is going to have a score that shows their preferences for introversion or extraversion.  We have both in us . . . we are introverts and extraverts . . . it is just the way that we are made up.  We have both, but we prefer one over the other.  Using the original definition, we are all ambiverts.  It is just a matter of which one we prefer.

Now, those who push for this third category of personality trait involving introversion and extraversion would probably argue until they are blue in the face about what I think.  And, they probably have good ground to stand on as this idea of being ambivert is not new . . . it has been around since 1927.  In what I have read about ambiverts, I just might be an ambivert . . . but, I still prefer introversion over everything else.  Besides I have over 56 years invested in introversion and I am not quite ready to give it up.  Yet, at the same time, this might help explain to those who are the closest to me why thing disagree with me when I say that I am an introvert.  According to what I read, ambiverts thrive in both worlds.  That just wears me out thinking about it.

So, I am going to stick to my understanding of personality traits—especially when it comes to introversion and extraversion.  I am going to continue to believe that I am a combination of both introversion and extraversion with one being a stronger preference than the other.  I am going to continue to believe that I have the ability to walk around and survive in the world of the extravert . . . especially when it comes to the professions I have chosen in my life.  I can be an extravert when I HAVE to be an extravert, but my preference is still towards the inner world of introversion.  It is so much quieter there romping around the rock garden between my ears.  If someone wants to point there finger at me and tell me I am an ambivert . . . so be it.  But I hope they can handle the finger I point back at them.

Just because some Internet test tells me I am an ambivert doesn’t make it true.  No.  I probably will need to take the test a couple of hundreds of times before I jump in with both feet.  I will probably have to contemplate this is the inner world I have created before I fully believe it.  In the meantime I am going to embrace my introverted side.  It has served me well over the years . . . kept me sane . . . and made me able to wander out into the world of extraverts and survive.  I am not denying that ambiverts actually exist . . . but, at the same time, to some degree, we are all ambiverts.

Yep, this old dog learned something new today.  Who would have thunk!  But, I am not yet ready to give full credence to this idea of ambiverts.  In the meantime I will continue to peruse the world around me from the safety of my introverted kingdom and consider these invasions into my understanding and world.  I really hate it when someone or something screws up my understanding of the world.  Just when I think that I have it all figured out . . . damn!  That sounds like an ambivert’s statement!  Damn!  I’m going to have to think about this for a while.

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