Morrie enjoys sitting in the park and reading science fiction novels. Some days he likes to look up from his book to see everyone else enjoying the park; other days, Morrie prefers to read in his living room alone at home.
When Morrie finishes his book, he feels restless, so he calls Elliott and asks him if he’d like to go to the local pub. Some days Morrie invites more people to a night on the town but other times it’s only him and Elliot.
On the next rainy day, Morrie picks up a new book and spends time alone until he’s ready to call his friends again.
While we choose to characterize ourselves as either introverted or extroverted, very few of us are purely one or the other. Most of us will lean towards one or the other and some of us sit in the middle, labelling ourselves as an ambivert.
An ambivert is someone who exhibits traits of both introverts and extroverts and can adjust their social behaviour based on the environment or situation. Ambiverts can be the life of the party or quiet, secluded individuals. Ambiverts have a distinct advantage over true introverts and extroverts because their personality does not lean heavily one way or another which helps them modify their social behaviour.
Ambiverts enjoy being by themselves for extended periods of time, but they become restless once their social batteries are fully charged. When this happens, ambiverts want to surround themselves with those with who they can share a laugh or go on an adventure. After these periods of socialization, however, ambiverts will often want to be alone and recharge for the next outing.
As you’ve probably guessed, Morrie is an ambivert because he likes to do quiet things by himself but still enjoys hanging out with Elliot and gathering with his friends. Morrie, like other ambiverts, balances their life between solitude and togetherness.
Morrie understands his socialization behaviours and learns to manage his energy accordingly. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced individuals into isolation, Morrie struggled to accommodate his needs.
Initially, Morrie didn’t mind the pandemic because it appealed to his introversion; he was able to spend time alone and not miss out on fun activities with his friends. When Morrie felt he needed to socialize, he would video chat with Elliot and play video games online. Morrie accepted the isolation believing that it was temporary and remained hopeful of seeing his friends in person soon.
As the pandemic drew closer to its one-year anniversary, the lack of socialization grew more unbearable for Morrie. Morrie focused on doing everything in his power to see his friends and return to normal life. Morrie respected all health guidelines, only went out if necessary, and got his COVID-19 vaccine, yet it wasn’t enough with just one person.
We know there are lots of people like Morrie who have taken the right steps to decrease the spread of COVID-19. We also know that anyone with even the smallest amount of extroversion is struggling to satisfy their social needs. The pandemic has made it very difficult for most of us to manage our social needs, resulting in frustration, anxiety, loneliness, and even depression.
As someone who became aware and experienced at managing their social behaviours, Morrie is learning how to manage his socialization needs through the obstacles of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s not an easy task and Morrie finds he has more frustrating days than usual, but this is normal.
Frustration occurs often with learning because you’re trying to understand new concepts and situations. It can be an infuriating feeling, but frustration also means you are learning and can (ironically) signify progress.
Morrie and myself are often frustrated as ambiverts in a pandemic, but we know we are making progress while learning to cope.
I am not a medical professional or expert. These claims were made based on personal opinions and lived experiences.