Is That Courage or Faith
to show up every day
To trust that there will be light
after the darkest of nights
Say what you want about the Enneagram but you have to love it if only as a thought playground that never runs out— what with all the types, sub-types, tritypes(!), wings, growth and stress— figuring yourself out, trying to type your friends…
Regarding my own type, I was driving myself completely nuts trying to get to the bottom of it. With Tom it’s so easy and clear— the 8est 8 that ever 8ed. You read any 8 summary and just nod the whole way through…
For myself I couldn’t settle on one type that was completely me. Apparently it’s expected that you identify at least a little with every type, but I felt I had strong internal affinity with 1 and 4 almost equally, and lots of behaviours of 6.
Then I found the solution to all my brooding: tritypes! The combination of three types can also become an archetype of its own; although it is less generally “accepted”. But that’s okay! 1-4-6, “the Philosopher.” As soon as I saw that, I could finally relax.
It explains everything: the inner critic who becomes a diva when things go “wrong”; why I consider Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic “life-changing”; how I can criticize something harshly and still love it— like reading The Name of the Wind with prose so purple it simultaneously makes me want to throw up and clutch my breast, weeping.
Study of the Enneagram has put a filter on my thoughts, so to speak, and has helped me identify and (at least begin to) solve three problems that I have been fighting with for a while now.
I’m so tense inside. High-strung. I hold my breath without noticing it. I clench my teeth. Where is all this tension coming from? What am I hanging onto? It was three things. The first was a fear of being not good.
Even though the 1-4-6 business gave me a satisfying write-up that checks all my boxes, it’s still accurate just to say I’m an arty 1 who loves contingency plans.
Before the Enneagram, before contemplating type 1’s base fear of being bad, corrupt, wrong— I couldn’t identify any of the sources of my spiritual-turned-physical tension. But thinking about it has really woken me up to how tight my grip is on being above reproach, on being “good,” or if I’m really honest, “acceptable.” I spend a ton of effort on being so predictable and unremarkable (relationally) that no one would want to gossip about me— it would be too boring; or being so good that they wouldn’t know what to say; or, recognizing that I can’t really be perfect, only relaxing in areas that would be too weird to bring up out of the blue— “did you see all the weeds in her driveway?”
I mostly worked my way out of being shy in my twenties. Fake it ‘till you make it totally works. But that was just for first meeting people. There are other faces of shy. A fear of being honest and vulnerable. I still hold back a lot of myself in newer relationships because I’m worried that people will think I’m not normal.
But I need to stop doing that. I need to stop holding back. The stakes in any given instance are usually so low and yet I take absolutely no risks in life.
It takes a lot of courage to be honest and speak truth, expose your imperfections, but I’m going to try, at least for a season. As I see it, leaning into my weirdness will either result in deep humiliation, or it will open all the doors my life was meant to open. Any one person’s eccentricity could be the very thing someone else needs to help them. I think I do believe that.
The other two quandaries were not as simple, so I will give them their own entries.