My Life as A Four: An Enneagram Story

“8’s are so aggressive!” 

“Of course she’s a 1.”

“Oh my gosh. He’s such a 7.” 

 

These are all things you might hear casually as you walk around campus. Numbers being thrown about as if they are a normal descriptor of human beings and yet it makes no sense whatsoever out of context. You might have no idea what people are talking about. And that’s okay because up until very recently the Enneagram lingo has not been a part of many people’s vocabulary. 

 

Enneagram stems from the Greek word, “ennéa” which means “nine” and “grámma” which means “written”. The very foundation of the Enneagram teaching reaches as far back as the 4th century. It refers to a psychological system of dividing people into 9 different personality types: all with different fears, desires, and motivations.

Source: @pepperdinelondon on ig 

 

About 8 months ago, I was introduced to this little personality test. At the time, I was only somewhat familiar with it, but did not see the point of taking personality tests. Why would I let an online test tell me who I am? Fortunately, I was on a Spiritual Retreat in the English countryside with nothing else to do but talk about this test. One of my more experienced Enneagram-fanatic friends told me not to take the online quiz but rather to read more about each personality type and self-identify with a number. Tests can lie to you and give you a result that you know isn’t right (ie. Pottermore). Taking this advice, I decided not to take the test but rather learn more about each number. My friends started looking at the descriptions and it was surprisingly very interesting to see what this test said about who they were. 

However, it wasn’t until much later in the month --after a lot of Enneagram based discussions and research-- that I found my number.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am a 4 through and through. 

The 4 personality type is a Romantic or, as the Enneagram Institute says, “the sensitive, introspective type” (https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/ ).

If you are anything like me, you felt a sense of relief upon first hearing the description of your personality type. I had never heard something so accurate and satisfying. It was like someone finally saw me. It was a breath of relief and a cathartic cry. 

Here are a few lines that pertain to the 4 personality type from the book “The Road Back to You” by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile:

  • “Melancholy is comfortable for me, so it’s annoying when people try to cheer me up.”

  • “I’m very sensitive to criticism, and it takes me a while to get over it.”

  • “When people tell me what to do I’m often tempted to do the opposite.”

  • “I’m okay with sad songs, sad stories and sad movies. Overly happy people give me a headache.”

 

Those sentences felt like they had always been true, but that I had never realized it before. And I think that is what the enneagram is to me. It does not have to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. It doesn’t have to be completely accurate. You may not agree with everything about your personality type, but it is a good exercise to make you more comfortable with exploring how you interact with other personality types and situations. 

 

Now, the most common joke that I get is how much I cry and how much that makes me a 4.  I am able to understand that I can respond irrationally and dramatically to certain situations. 

At the same time, I can embrace how emotional I am. I love how artistic I am. If there is anything that I love most about myself, it is how my vulnerability can help others get to a point where they are willing to share their struggles. And guess what? I do cry. I cry out of happiness or sadness or confusion and irritation or anger. That’s just who I am and I am learning to love myself for it. 

 

It can be hard to understand your own emotional reactions to certain situations. The Enneagram is not a perfect system, but it is a fun way to become more cognizant of your own personality. So give it a try. Take the test or self identify. You might be surprised by what you learn.