• The Convergence

Uncovering the life of an ambivert during HBL

By S Preethiba, Senior Editor


The onset of Covid-19 has brought many countries, including Singapore, to a standstill as governments impose lockdowns to contain the spread of the virus. Stuck in the confines of their homes, many have taken to the online sphere to discuss how different people have been coping during these exceptional circumstances.


The online community has been largely divided into two camps - introverts and extroverts - with people counting the benefits of lessened social interactions from HBL to the former while sulking over the lack of these interactions for the latter.


On the contrary, little attention has been paid to people who do not belong to either of these camps - ambiverts. A simple google search of how people with different personalities have been coping with lockdowns will direct you to countless articles on how the two camps have been gained or suffered respectively, with little mention of experiences of ambiverts.


But who are ambiverts and what are their characteristics?


If introverts and extroverts are two ends of a personality spectrum, an ambivert is a personality type that falls somewhere in the middle.[1] An ambivert could lean slightly more to one end and the direction in which he or she is inclined towards depends on a given situation.


Essentially, ambiverts can thus be either an introvert or an extrovert, depending on the situation they find themselves in. However, according to Assistant Professor Ian J. Davidson from Concordia University of Edmonton, there is very little information available on ambiverts, and they are a nearly forgotten personality type, which thus explains why they are often overlooked. [2]


Given the oscillating nature of ambiverts, it is hard to qualify their specific character traits. [3] For example, under a particular set of circumstances, they could either prefer to work alone or work in a group. Or, they could enjoy spending long hours alone in one situation, only to find themselves bored to death in another.


Being an ambivert, I have thus decided to insert myself into this conversation and reflect on my home-based learning (HBL) journey during this pandemic to shed some light on some characteristics of an ambivert.


Ambivert or Introvert?


As Covid-19 intensified and lessons were shifted online in the later half of the previous academic year, the elimination of the daily rush to school and having to engage in small talk with peers in class seemed too good to be true.


Suddenly, the introverted side of me bubbled with excitement and was awashed with relief as the crowded and noisy travels to and fro school were nullified. Additionally, I no longer had to deal with awkward situations like having to introduce myself at the start of a new tutorial class, as teachers usually dive straight into their lesson content on Zoom.


However, this abrupt shift was not without its challenges. The sudden switch to HBL was indeed baffling - I found myself scrambling to figure out how to participate in and learn through Zoom classes. Also, I had to tackle my worst fear - online examinations. E-exams have never been my cup of tea, especially after a harrowing encounter where my laptop had malfunctioned in the middle of one. Though the problem was addressed eventually, the anxiety I felt on that day has left a mark in my memory.


Despite these challenges, I cherished being away from both the never-ending hustle and bustle of school and the mass of students in lectures and hallways. The sharp increase in spare time gifted me with some much needed alone time for personal relaxation, and I relished those moments, so much so that I wondered if I was actually an introvert.


Extroversion kicking in


Nine weeks into this semester have made me realise otherwise. I have become increasingly unnerved due to the continued lack of physical interaction with fellow classmates and being in a social setting amongst random individuals. The paucity of interaction has led me to feel immense frustration and anxiety at times.


While I was thankful for Zoom lessons at the start of HBL, I now yearn for the lively physical lessons that I had before COVID-19. Online lessons have become simply mundane due to the continued lack of meaningful interactions with other students, coupled with the fact that it is much easier to be disengaged from lesson content whilst learning through online means.


Alone time has also become less enjoyable and more dreary. During these periods of solitude, I often find myself daydreaming about life before the pandemic instead of being in the present moment. At this point, I realised that the extroverted side of me had begun to re-emerge.


However, some might wonder if the above are truly character traits of extroverts, as the term tends to conjure an image of a boisterous individual who likes to be surrounded by large groups of people. But this is a misconception. Carl Jung, a Swiss psychologist who was the first to define the psychological concepts of ‘introverts’ and ‘extroverts’, defines introverts as individuals who recharge by being alone in minimally stimulating environments, while extroverts as those who recharge by being with people. [4]


Putting an ambivert’s feelings into perspective


Although I have always known that I am an ambivert, HBL has allowed me to better appreciate the arbitrariness of my personality. Before, I was often frustrated with feeling like I could not identify myself wholly as either an ‘introvert’ or ‘extrovert’. Reflecting on my HBL experience has made me realize that there are advantages to being an ambivert, as it has allowed me to adapt to situations relatively easily.


This is not to say that introverts and extroverts assume static personalities. They too, would have moments where they embrace ‘chaos’ and solitude respectively, and are dynamic in their own ways.


Instead, what I do want to emphasize is for better recognition and acknowledgement of ambiverts. Indeed, it can be tough to understand them because of their mutable nature, but this challenge should not lead to them being overlooked.


What one can do then is to adopt a more inclusive attitude when thinking about personalities instead of thinking in a mutually exclusive manner. This might prove useful to people who believe that they are complete introverts and extroverts, for they might be ambiverts after all.




Bibliography:


[1] Davidson, Ian J. "The Ambivert: A Failed Attempt at a Normal Personality." Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 53, no. 4 (2017): 313-331.


[2] Ibid.


[3] Bradberry, Travis. “9 Signs That You're An Ambivert.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 8 May 2016

www.forbes.com/sites/travisbradberry/2016/04/26/9-signs-that-youre-an-ambivert/


[4] Holland, Kimberly. “What Is an Introvert? Personality, Characteristics, Type, and More.”Healthline, HealthlineMedia, 1 Aug 2018

www.healthline.com/health/what-is-an-introvert




Preethiba is a Year 3 Political Science and Economics student, and a Senior Editor at The Convergence. She has a keen interest in international relations and current affairs, and hopes that her writing will help to spark curiosity in current affairs in the larger NUS community and readers of The Convergence. When she is not pouring through her readings and trying to balance her crazy workload, she has her nose in books- anything from Singapore literature to memoirs and autobiographies. Apart from this, she is a massive fan of Harry Potter and Liverpool FC (YNWA!).


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