Now don’t be alarmed by the title of this piece. The term ambivert is not in anyway connected with the term pervert.
In fact I first became aware of the term via The Wall Street Journal article on the subject by Elizabeth Bernstein. It described a combination of personality traits that did not fit the definition of either an extrovert nor an introvert but something of a hybrid.
In truth this description sounds very much like me. Like most of us I often embarked on the journey towards self-discovery. Who am I, really? How do I relate to the world, really? I have come to the conclusion that I am not a “people person”. On occasion, when the discussion arises, I will confess this quality to others. Those who have witnessed me in the course of performing my professional duties as a physician/gastroenterologist are often baffled by my confession. “No way” they might state.” You can be charming and warm with your patients, particularly the nervous ones.” Of course I thank them for that assessment but admit that this is an act I put on.
I am always been around extroverts. My Father was comfortable speaking with anyone and everyone. My wife and daughter-in-law are very comfortable engaging in conversation with total strangers. My Mother was quieter. I must have inherited her genetic makeup when it comes to speaking with strangers.
I have always wondered if my approach to dealing with patients is an act, a bit of a charade. Am I just faking my outward persona? I know many of my patients would be shocked by my admission. I often observe myself in the role I play. But am I being inauthentic? I don’t think so. I believe we are all capable of being different people under different circumstances. Years ago I learned the behavior that allowed me to relate better to my patients, to win their trust and to maximize the therapeutic encounter I have with them. I am now comfortable in that role. I don the white coat of the physician and become that doctor. I believe it contributes to the healing process itself.
I have observed that I do actually relate well to one individual at a time. I value time spent with one person in which I can cut through the superficial banter that passes for being “social”. I am comfortable discussing the deepest metaphysical issues with anyone. I find those topics holds my interest and I lose any sense of being self-conscious. I find that actually quite rewarding. On the other hand, I find “small talk” about personal preferences, other people’s families whom I don’t actually know, rather boring.
But at least I now know what I am— an ambivert. I just need to explain the term to anyone who hears it for the first time.