Sunday, September 17, 2017

Embracing Ambiversion

When I was in university, candidates for the Residence Life program were required to take a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test prior to their interview. It was the first of several introspective test I would take as an adult in order to gain some insight about myself, and perhaps a degree of quantification regarding my interactions with others.

In the interview, I was asked where I draw my energy from: by interacting with other people, or withdrawing by myself to recharge. Thinking in terms of the work I like to do, the service aspects and public speaking, extroversion seemed a pretty good fit. But that test, and several since, have placed me firmly on the fence as far as introversion/extroversion goes. And the older I get, the more sense that seems to make.

As much as I love people and social gatherings, and fancy myself a gregarious host, I can also be quite shy. I thought it was deeply ironic when I went to my first Toastmasters speech contest in Saskatoon a couple of years ago, that I was far more comfortable delivering a speech to three to four hundred strangers than I was going in to the banquet hall and wondering who to sit with, since I didn't know anyone.

It doesn't take a tremendous amount of insight to say that there will be gaps in any test trying to quantify any aspect of human interaction  or perception into one of four binary axes; life (like so many things in nature, it seems) tends to express itself as more of a spectrum, after all. Into this paradigm strides the concept of an ambivert: someone whose personality has a balance of introvert and extrovert features. And apparently, most of us are more likely to fit this descriptor than either extrovert or introvert.

Saturday was a perfect example. I was expecting to make dinner for a half-dozen or so people, so I figured I would brine a tenderloin. After driving Fenya to work and getting my groceries, I had the house to myself, as Glory and Audrey were in Saskatoon for a feis (a 4th place and 1st place medal, thanks for askin!).

By early afternoon, the washroom was cleaned, the tenderloin was soaking in salty water spiked with maple syrup and Guinness, and the potatoes were all cut. As I finished tidying up, the silence of the house became far more pronounced, but I strangely found myself hoping that my guests wouldn't be too early.

I grabbed a book (another all too rare occurrence, I'm sad to say!), and sat on the recliner with Nitti to read. Maybe it was the knowledge that the quiet time would soon be ending, but I found myself relishing the sunny, muted afternoon.

As you may well know, reticence is not one of my hallmarks, so I was glad when the first of my guests showed, and we were able to exchange greetings and beers in short order. When everyone arrived, we shared an enjoyable meal of delightful pork and sadly undercooked potatoes and enjoyed getting caught up with one another. Afterwards, we trotted out Risk Godstorm (congratulations Colin!), and laughed and chatted until after midnight. Well after midnight for the last three of us, in fact.

Beyond the good time, I hope I remember Saturday as a lesson in balance, and the importance of taking time by myself, for myself, in order to get more out of my time with others.

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