As a culture, we like boxes. We like classifications. We like it when we receive a specific diagnosis of personality traits that enables us to confidently express our strengths and have clarity for our weaknesses.
Many of us participate in a variety of multiple-choice questionnaires that somehow manage to magically define who we are. I’m a sucker for those tests, mostly because my computer-manufactured conclusions tend to be amusingly all over the place. They are consistently inconsistent, especially with the left-brain/right-brain designations.
Interestingly, I have yet to take an online test that defines me as both-brained. I am always either extreme right-brained or extreme left-brained, depending on how the questions and answers are presented. More often than not, my genuine response tends to be a variation of “both,” “sometimes,” “it depends,” “none” or “all of the above” — most of which are rarely options.
Fortunately, I’ve grown to not only accept being so indefinable, but to embrace it. I take great pride in being a highly organized, super creative, meticulous, intuitive, focused, open-minded, structured and spontaneous type of gal who is equally comfortable with words, visuals and numbers, all within a concoction of nuanced perspectives.
Too many people consider the arts and sciences to be mutually exclusive. Yet art is a science and science is an art. Renaissance men and women as well as multi-hyphenates master vast methods and specialize in versatility. They prove that coalescing conflicting concepts into a potent potion of compelling creativity not only improves individual lives, but also improves communities.
With the work that I do, and the business I have built, I don’t feel torn between multiple personalities. Instead, I benefit from my distinct ability to innately comprehend a wide range of perspectives. I treasure my capability to serve as a valuable, adaptable bridge who continuously fuses various different worlds that too many people deem to be polar opposites of one another. While a significant population gravitates to the extremes, I typically find myself somewhere in the middle with my arms stretched out wide for a broad embrace.
When I mentor and partner with artists and other professional creatives, I’m able to speak their language while offering sympathetic structure, organization and clarity. When I collaborate with those who are more analytical and technological, I navigate within their systems to provide the human touch with an authentic, organic flow. In my decade-plus career as an award-winning journalist, I specialized in the most controversial and complex topics that required both scrutiny and sensitivity.
My creative tools also span the spectrum. I work within complicated spreadsheets and write in code, while I also express a vast visual vocabulary and poetic use of language. When I make plans, I confidently design a solid foundation that welcomes space for spontaneity. And throughout all I do, I continuously bounce between being creator, receiver and facilitator, shifting between expressing, listening and supporting.
How people perceive me can be similarly contradictory. Introverts have called me a social butterfly and a “chatty catty,” while extroverts have criticized me for being “a loner” and someone who needs her space.
I felt so liberated when I learned the word “ambivert” a few years ago. It means someone who is part introvert and part extrovert — another alternative middle-of-the-road designation that suits me well.
I experience the strongest sense of balance when half of my waking life is social and the other half is me spending time with me. Vocal in nature, I thrive off of quality conversations and supporting others. I have also experienced some of my greatest joys on my own while problem solving, coasting along with creative flow and engaging with the outside world through invigorating solo travel. I’m extremely comfortable speaking in front of large groups of people and introducing myself to spark conversations with strangers. However, I can struggle when within superficial crowds, and I frequently burn out when surrounded by too much stimuli. I can’t function without my down time, nor can I function when I feel painfully alone without a voice, craving conversation and understanding.
While my centrist personality excludes me from conventional boxes, my intrinsic flexibility and ability to respect and identify with a vast spectrum of perspectives has become one of my most distinctive assets.
Such is my life as a both-brained ambivert.