What's Your Type?
I love personality quizzes.
You know what I’m talking about, right? Those silly little quizzes that sometimes find their way into your email box or onto your social media feed?
What Harry Potter character are you? (Dumbledore)
Are you Right or Left brained? (50-50)
What dessert are you? (Cupcake)
And equal to my love of personality quizzes is my contradictory (and slightly self-righteous…) disdain for labelling. If you’ve spent more than 10 minutes with me, you probably know that stereotypes really bother me. I’m fine with self-identifying, but I really dislike a misplaced label - or what I call, assumption of sameness.
So when my Kundalini yoga teacher and friend, Lynn Roulo, first told me about the Enneagram personality types back in 2014, I was simultaneously thrilled to take my quiz (what type am I?! what type am I?!) and internally shaking my head. I mean, you cannot possibly divide the entire human race into just nine personality types - that’s reductionist and absurd. Right?
But the system Lynn explained to me is much more refined than you'd think. She describes the nine types like being from different countries: you and I might both be Americans, so we share the same language and some cultural similarities, but we definitely have our own quirks, sub-cultures, and personal ways of expressing our “American-ness.” It's the same with the Enneagram types: there are subtypes, wings, and varying levels of self-awareness that affect the way we express our types. (I loved that! 100 points for nuance!)
I was deeply intrigued and wanted to determine my type. But online Enneagram quizzes are not usually accurate. They tend to assign your type based on your behavior, while the true typing system is based on your motivations (which is harder to determine with a multiple choice quiz). I know this from first-hand experience because I’d already (of course...) taken an online Enneagram quiz - but I couldn't identify with my result.
Instead, Lynn told me that one of the best ways to determine your type is through a typing interview, where someone educated in the system can guide you through a series of questions. At the end of the interview, no one tells you what type you are, you actually decide for yourself. (I loved that, too! 100 points for self-identifying!).
So in 2014, I decided to sit down with Lynn to do an interview and it turns out I’m a type 4 (a Self-Preservation 4, to be exact). I began reading about my type and the accuracy of the descriptions was astounding! I attended a panel discussion where some type 4s shared their feelings with the audience and I was blown away! These people spoke my language! They were describing my inner world!
The more I understood about type 4s, the more I started to loosen my grip on several self-judgments and stories that had been haunting me since childhood (I’m too emotional. I’m too intense. No one understands me. I don’t even know who I am.) And I started to name the things that could help me feel more grounded and self-loving (Structure. Laughter. Self-expression.) More than anything, the Enneagram began to give me a new, more compassionate lens to view myself.
Now, three years later, the system has become one of my favorite tools, not just for self-awareness and growth, but also for developing stronger relationships. I started attending panel discussions for the other types, where I could listen to people with completely different personalities share their motivations, feelings, and desires. This was even more illuminating than listening to my own type! I was seeing patterns and gaining understanding about my friends, family and former lovers - many of whom had bewildered me for ages!
My partner, best friend, sister, and mom have all done typing interviews and shared their results with me, so I know what type they are. But this isn't about pigeon-holing them or assuming I know exactly how they feel or think about something all the time. It's simply a means for stronger and more patient communication. I'm learning how to express myself to them in a way that they can understand. I'm learning what questions to ask when I'm confused about their behavior. And I'm learning not to take that behavior so personally (especially when it's so different from what I would choose to do!).
A few months ago, I got the chance to speak as a panelist for type 4s. The experience was fantastic. Not only did I feel totally witnessed by my co-panelists and the audience, but I found it so healing to hear other self-aware 4s sharing similar stories about their struggles and personal strengths. On February 19th, I’ll be participating in another panel hosted by Lynn, this time focusing specifically on my type’s experiences in work and relationships, and I’m so excited!
If you’re in Athens on the 19th, I’d love for you to come! If you’re interested in coming, send me a message or connect with Lynn here to get more details. I’m not an affiliate for Lynn - I’m not getting paid for the panel - and I don’t financially benefit from the Enneagram system in any way. I’m just sharing this because it’s made such an impact on my life!
If you want to learn more about the Enneagram in general, you can check out Lynn’s site here or the Enneagram Institute here - where there are tons of free resources. And if you’re interested in setting up a typing interview with Lynn, you can go here.
Do you already know your Enneagram type? I’d love to know about your experiences of the system - has it helped you gain deeper self-awareness? Has it helped you in your relationships? Send me a message!