Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Ambivert's Point of View

  Are you an introvert? Do you prefer solitude over social interaction? Would you rather spend time indoors instead of outdoors? Do you tend to remain quiet in social settings as opposed to being the life of the party? Or are you an extravert? Are you a better speaker than listener? Would you prefer to spend your time around people as opposed to by yourself? Are you unable to last longer than 5 minutes without social interaction or activity of any kind?
  It's funny how it's always one or the other. Either you are one extreme, or you are the other. It's been that way since I could remember. Chocolate or vanilla? White or Black? Hot or cold? Optimist or pessimist? Democrat or Republican? "You can only pick one." they say, and any middle-ground answers don't count. Personally, I've never been any extreme type of person. I've always looked at both sides and remained in the middle with mostly everything (I do prefer chocolate over vanilla though). I like black and white the same, I prefer temperate weather over hot or cold, I am a realist, and I am a libertarian (Don't even get me started on political parties. I will rant.). I don't really believe that life works in black and white. It would be far too simple if that were the case. There are so many gray areas, so many dimensions to explore that make life so complex.
  I'm an ambivert. Ambiversion is a happy medium between introversion and extraversion. Ambiverts typically enjoy social interaction, but also value their solitude and seek a good balance of the two. Not too social, but not a loner. I'm smack-dab in the middle and that's how I like it.
  Most people probably can't understand how I can be both an introvert and an extravert. I can see why. It makes me look fickle and inconsistent. It's more complex than that, really. I'm complex. Most would say I fall under extravert because I'm an actor. I can get up on stage and shamelessly make an ass out of myself and be whatever character I play and not care who is out in the audience gawking at me. My last big role was Eve Harrington in "Applause." She was a manipulative wolf in sheep's clothing who sleeps her way to the top in New York show business. She uses a lot of people, including her biggest idol, to get notoriety on Broadway. My character was a cruel little tart, the exact opposite of me. Yet I loved playing that character. I loved being that nasty little bitch who was seducing every man in her path to get what she wanted, and I didn't care who saw me make that transformation every night. That's the beauty of being a performer. I love to move people with my performances and get feedback, and I love interacting with the people I work with. I'm right in my element in front of that audience.
  Put me out of my element, however, and a completely different person takes over. I'm a different person off the stage sometimes. I'm probably the quietest, most serious person you will see in the classrooms at school. I'm friendly, but a little uncomfortable with small talk. Speaking in front of the class or to the teacher in front of the class makes my stomach want to drop to the floor. My ability to make people laugh goes down the toilet. I don't ask questions or answer them in class, and I've only sat in the front row a total of twice in my entire educational career. I do get along with my other classmates, but it takes some time into the semester for me to develop the relationship. You can ask my chemistry teacher. It took me three semesters in her classes to come out of my shell! It wasn't until Organic Chemistry I that I actually engaged in classroom discussions and comfortably spoke in front of the class. Sadly, I've transferred to a university now where engaging in classroom discussions can be a big part of your grade. You have no idea how frustrating that gets. Especially when you're put on the spot. My brain goes blank and my ability to utter any intelligent answer seems to disappear. I sit there and stare with the most vacant look on my face. I wonder if they understand that there are people who don't like to speak freely and discuss the material in class, and that it's nothing personal.
  Social situations are a lot more ambiguous. Depending on my comfort level with the people around me, I may float around to different groups and exchange pleasantries and jokes with the members of each group and have a grand old time, stick to a small group of two or three, or just sit quietly by myself. If they're theater people I've worked with, I'll gladly be the life of the party and make an ass out of myself and enjoy every minute of it. Sometimes I can go for hours. If I have friends I attend a big get together with, normally I stay with one or two of them and chat with them. It depends on how I feel. If I don't know anyone, I'm very reserved and keep to myself. I think making small talk is awkward and exhausting when I'm not around people I'm doing business with or immediately know, moreso with men than women (that's another rant I'll eventually post about).
  Sometimes I need to go elsewhere where there's less people just to catch a breath of fresh air. I think a lot of people find it disturbing because they mistake it for being standoffish, when really I just want to enjoy a solitary moment to myself. They're relaxing. I'm really reserved when I hang around my boyfriend's friends. Most of the time I'm attached to Patrick's hip, just because I'm not super comfortable starting small talk with anyone. Just recently I've gotten more outgoing around them. Turns out that I get on well with a lot of people in the group! But even if I'm not being super chatty, I still enjoy being out and about with people.
  I like to be alone, too. I prefer to practice my singing, dancing, and acting in solitude. Since middle school, I've used the time my parents were away at work to practice and just be a goofball. I feel like I can use that time to improve and fix my mistakes without somebody else injecting any unwarranted criticism. I also don't really like people seeing my work before it's finished; the best has yet to come, and it's waiting up my sleeve. I want to blow you away with the finished product, not give you a half-assed rehearsal where you can see my mistakes. But it's gotten so much harder as I've gotten older to have the singing/dancing/goofball hours because now I work and go to school and live with roommates. I normally do all my practicing in my car now. It's rare that I actually get to sing in the comfort and acoustics of my own home.
  Honing my crafts aren't the only reason why I like my alone time, though. I need to unwind from work and my day. If I'm asked by a friend to go out somewhere after work, I have to know who's going and how many people are going. If it's a lot of people, it takes a little convincing to get me to go. I like smaller groups. I don't really fit into large groups unless I know everybody. I can be selective about social interaction. Look at it this way: I get a lot of it from my job (I do marketing for a chiropractor) and being a performer, so sometimes that quiet time by myself or with one or two people is necessary to keep me sane. It's not that I don't want to see anybody, it's just that I need my me time.
  So, there you have it. Ambiversion in a nutshell. Yes, we probably make things more complicated than they need be. But I'm honestly happy to be that complicated happy medium girl. I get the best of both worlds, and a sense of understanding for introverts and extraverts alike.

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