If you spend any time online, particularly on social media—you’re bound to come across some articles (read: click bait) that are tailor-made for your interests these days—whether on your own, by way of your friends and family, or creepily offered by the ghost in your machine (i.e. the algorithm decoders behind Facebook). This past year, I came across one of these intriguing links that unveiled a new term that summed me up so well, I took more time to analyze and mull over myself: ambivert.
This is a compound term, taking the traditional word “Introvert” and combining it with the word “Ambivalent” or “Ambiguous”—or Amber, in honor of the first introvert who discovered these specialized traits. An ambivert is basically an introvert at heart (prone to silence, introspection, needing time alone to recharge from social situations)—but with tendencies to also be outgoing, engaging, and display comfort at being the center of attention occasionally, on their terms. Basically, an ambivert is an introvert who doesn’t suck (or an extrovert who isn’t a complete dick). The best of both worlds, at last.
Honestly, this wasn’t really news to me. I’ve always known I was a composite freakazoid like this. But upon discovering this new buzzword, I was a little confounded: isn’t it a bit gauche to be surprised that introverts can also be “social”?
I was chatting with a new friend on the phone recently about some interpersonal problems that had come up in our social circle—some clashing views and temperaments—all that fun stuff. He remarked that one of our friends was reserved and introverted—among other things that contributed to the scenario. Then he proceeded to analyze me for the purpose of discussion too: “I noticed that you’re also quiet and introverted—but you’re actually proactive, socially, to my surprise…” I was a bit taken aback by this (now I just find it a few degrees below hilarity). If I were to have taken the defensive approach, my immediate reaction would’ve been: Why wouldn’t I be socially proactive? Just because I’m introverted doesn’t mean I don’t want to spend time with others and have fun. In fact, it’s as much a priority in my life as the traditional hallmarks of introversion: solitude, reflection, and a large Netflix queue. Alas, I just let it slide—it was more amusing than anything else.
Conversely, I also bristle when I’m placed squarely in the other camp. Much less recently, I was shooting the breeze with a different friend—chatting about this and that, which led to us musing about our shared friends—which led to his lament about the trials of meeting new people and connecting. Since I was then at the ripe age of twenty-seven and still riding a wave of twenty-something ease, I glibly divulged: “I don’t have too much trouble meeting new people”, to which my friend flatly remarked: “That’s because you’re really open…” To which I figuratively scratched my head—then spent subsequent years laughing at and contesting this remark, privately. To be fair, my friend wasn’t entirely incorrect. At that age, with my track record then, just give me a few drinks in a new scenario and I’d blindly push forward—hoping for the best. But he wasn’t entirely correct either. Regardless of how proactive I was socially, I also had a sturdy reputation among others for being quiet as well. I was and am, ruthlessly guarded about my solitude—just as happy to spend an entire weekend alone. Quite simply, it’s all context. I’m quiet to some, “open” to others. Different people bring out different sides of you. Also, this friend was notorious for having a stick up his butt; rocks were more “open” than him.
I think many people are (or should) be ambiverts to some degree, anyway. Aren’t many of us a mix of chill and proactive at the same time? Sure, I can take the initiative when I first meet you—because I don’t have time to fuck around. I’m a businessman in that sense. But once I get to know you more, I’m gonna need my space then and often. I don’t need to give and receive constantly; I’m self-sufficient—a retiring artist in that sense. Although I’ve been known to be pretty bold and fun when I get my mojo going, nothing kills my buzz more than when I’m expected to display these traits consistently. Fuck that. I’m not anyone’s toy, and I’m not here for anyone’s amusement but my own. Consequently, some people don’t even want to claim that I’m “fun” at all—but they know they can’t rule it out either. Basically, I’m a fummer! –A combination of the word fun and bummer, and I wear this term proudly!
In fact, since learning about the term ambivert, a few other buzz terms have popped up online, adding more confusion and less creative names in the process like: Outgoing Introvert, Introverted Extrovert, Extroverted Introverted Extrovert. You get where that’s going. I thought I was special as an ambivert, but then nobody else gets to be special—and we just can’t have that! Makes you wonder if a person would dare label themselves simply as an extrovert or introvert these days.
We humans love to analyze and define ourselves—especially nowadays, because we have evolved to stop worrying about food or moving out of our parents’ homes. There are innumerous quizzes, lists, and uncorroborated articles out there that will assist you in deciding just who you are and what you need in this world.
More buzzwords will breed more buzzwords, like a word association game gone ballistic, to help define the current generation of 18 to 35 year olds who have mastered the challenging art of sharing about themselves on all forms of social media. With that frame of mind, I would like to draw up a few suggestions of my own to add into the lexicon:
Drama fraud: A person who lies about not liking “Drama”.
Sadult: A person who is technically an adult, but bears little resemblance to one with a combination of one or more of the following missing traits: physical appearance, clothing style, financial security, responsibilities, relationship status, hobbies, mindset, maturity. No age limit.
Fauxweird: A person who claims to be “Weird”, but is actually completely concerned about fitting in with everyone, and will suppress anything remotely original about themselves to attain it.
Blindster: A person who is blind to the fact that they are in fact, a hipster. (You can usually spot them by overhearing their arbitrary diatribes against hipsters, to prove that they aren’t one…)
Groaner: A person who is trying a bit too hard to appear smarter, cooler, or tougher than they actually are. (It makes you wanna groan, get it?)
Faux-no social: A person who claims that they don’t like social media, but secretly uses it substantially.
And last but not least:
Anassistic: When a person analyzes themselves narcissistically via the dubious tenets of pop psychology: astrology, personality tests, and buzzwords.
I’m not proud to say that I’ve been guilty of three of the terms above, from time to time. I’ll let you guess which ones, ha….