Not an introvert, not an extrovert? No worries, nothing’s wrong with you.
Do you have a hard time answering the question “Are you an introvert or an extrovert”? Do you feel like you don’t belong? Do you seem to view the world differently than people around you? Do you have many contradictory character traits? And most of all, you don’t understand why? I was in that exact same spot many years ago, and so I thought it would be valuable to share an article or rather a piece of work with you, that really helped me out back then. I hope it will bring you some clarity as well.
For the longest time, I thought something might be off with me. I considered myself to be neither an introvert nor an extrovert. Being an ambivert seemed a little more suitable, so I was glad to find out there’s a term like that. It’s not that labels matter, they really don’t. Nonetheless, I still found myself wondering how come I have all those contradictory character traits. It was really bothering me at times. I felt misunderstood and definitely like I don’t fit in. Since I can remember I was interested in self-growth, psychology, and just the human experience in general. Who am I, how am I changing, how do I relate to the world, and so on. I’m pretty sure one day I started looking up if there’s an explanation for how “I am” in psychology. I thought just reading about what’s wrong with me, would at least give am some understanding. That’s all I wanted. However, I did not find out that I needed professional help to become this or that, instead, I stumbled across (professor of psychology and management) Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s work. And man, I can tell you it gave me the understanding and relief I was looking for. For someone else to put into words exactly what you think and feel, that’s priceless. To know that others have the same experience. You actually have in common something you don’t quite understand about yourself, they’re seeing things the same way you do.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi writes about 10 contradictory personality traits and states that those are characteristics shared by highly creative people. Being how I am, and seeing creativity as a very positive attribute, of course, I thought both “all those confusing traits I recognize in myself just indicate that I’m highly creative? No way, that can’t be me”, and “Oh yea, that makes total sense”.
1. Creative people have a great deal of physical energy, but they’re also often quiet and at rest. (…)
2. Creative people tend to be smart yet naive at the same time. (…)
3. Creative people combine playfulness and discipline, or responsibility and irresponsibility. (…)
4. Creative people alternate between imagination and fantasy, and a rooted sense of reality. (…)
5. Creative people tend to be both extroverted and introverted. (…)
6. Creative people are humble and proud at the same time. (…)
7. Creative people, to an extent, escape rigid gender role stereotyping. (…)
8. Creative people are both rebellious and conservative. (…)
9. Most creative people are very passionate about their work, yet they can be extremely objective about it as well. (…)
10. Creative people’s openness and sensitivity often exposes them to suffering and pain, yet also to a great deal of enjoyment. (…)
I’m not sharing this article as something you have to take to heart 100%. I don’t have enough knowledge of whether there has been other research done stating the opposite. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has devoted 30 years of research to how creative people live and work so I think it’s fair to give the article a shot in helping us out a bit. I am not saying, that by reading it you will fully understand yourself and feel a strong sense of belonging. What I do hope tho, is that it can become an insightful piece to your puzzle, like it was to mine.
Once again, here’s the link to the article: The Creative Personality.