I’ve always carried a sense of creativity ever since I was a kid. I used to love writing short stories in elementary school for the class to read out loud. Throughout the rest of my school years, Art class was by far my favorite outlet, followed by Creative Writing to release my sense of quirkiness and ambitious imagination. Fast forward to adulthood and I somehow managed to bury the right side of my brain in order to eat brand named cereal for breakfast, thus choosing the road more travelled for my career. I became a scientist or more precisely a Food Developer with a steady income. It’s an enriching career filled with rewarding experiences, learning the science and development behind food manufacturing that most of us take for granted. But, after long days of repeated trials, I go home and relinquish myself of the title, “certified Foodie”, devouring my microwaved dinner with great ease.
Then, as the evening wears on, I gladly turn to my true passion: learning something more about WHO I am. The artist in me. The creator. The writer. The TRUE me.
Afterall, even Superman preferred to be known as Kal-El.
OK, that was a bit narcissistic, but if you know me, you’d also know that was only a metaphor.
I love the art of creating something useful with my imagination, whether it’s putting together a surprise birthday gift or writing a blog to freely express my state of mind. I find pure joy and liberation expressing my emotions, my thoughts and exploring the queries of self.
The other day, my counsellor (and dear friend) Guillermo (aka “G”) asked me, “Jason, have you ever heard of Enneagram tests to understand yourself more?”
I immediately Googled Enneagram tests and discovered a wealth of info (thank goodness for the internet!). For those unfamiliar and interested, you can read more about Enneagrams here. In short, it’s sort of like a Myers Briggs personality test, but this scores your values and beliefs, then categorizes you into 1 of 9 possible traits. The nice part about the Enneagram test result is that it provides a spectrum of where you score. In other words, if I was a category 4, I can easily swing into traits of a category 1 or category 2 personality.
The 9 traits are as follows:
- The Perfectionist
- The Giver
- The Achiever
- The Individualist
- The Investigator
- The Skeptic
- The Enthusiast
- The Challenger
- The Peacemake
Why did I do this?
Well, as starters, I’m an Enneagram 4 (inside joke that only Enneagram 4’s can appreciate). I’ve wondered for quite some time about my greater purpose in Life, other than to create sugary beverages for kids to love and moms to write grievance letters to. For those who know me, I’ve struggled in the past with depression and sometimes can feel melancholic, though I generally consider myself to be a positive person. I admit I do fear being rejected, yet I crave closeness. Even worse is when I’ve rejected parts of myself: my inner quest for deeper understanding of our human psychology, my emotions and my natural ability to be compassionate to other people’s emotions. When I didn’t acknowledge these parts of me, this became a slippery slope to feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth.
I’ve known G since 2014 and he’s by far been my favorite counsellor after all these years. He wasn’t like any other counsellor I’ve worked with before. He’s so much more in depth, often times not following the rule book of what a traditional RCC would say to you (and trust me, I’ve been a client of many). This context made G’s recommendation about Enneagrams all the more enticing because he’s always understood me and my constant quest for self.
The best part was G accepted me (not because he’s also a fellow #4) and because he told me in his delightful Argentinian accent, “Jason, you need to welcome ALL parts of yourself and not judge or devalue them. You are rejecting yourself, not making it possible for others to accept you. Only by seeing the value in your strengths, will you discover a true sense of self-worth. You lost sight of your gifts, your strengths and as a result your self-esteem. Your negative energy drowned the positive person who’s always been there! Bring him back!”
(Like I said, not what a typical RCC would say, but his message hit home).
I’m an Enneagram #4 – The Individualist! (aka the Romantic)
The accuracy for me on the Enneagram test was profound! It was like my computer became a mind reader and spewed out my exact personality on the screen. It’s a fun, short quiz that I took online and quenched my perpetual thirst for understanding myself.
Quoting from Crystalknows.com(one of many sights that does Enneagram tests), Enneagram 4’s:
The basic desire of the Type 4 is to build a distinct, meaningful identity and to express it in the world. They tend to crave authenticity, but may struggle through uncertainty and doubt along the way to discovering their individuality. Fours may feel misunderstood if others fail to recognize their unique, identifying traits.
Type 4’s tend to defend themselves by unintentionally adapting characteristics from friends, in order to appear more genuine.
The basic fear of the Type 4 is that they do not matter or have significant impact on the world. In less healthy, times, they often feel misunderstood, outcast, and unrelatable. In order to distinguish themselves from others, Fours may work hard to be unique, creative, and expressive.
Strengths that are typically associated with the Enneagram Type 4 personality include…
- Ability to connect deeply with their own emotions
- Sensitivity to and understanding of others’ feelings
- General awareness of their own growth areas
- Imaginative and creative deep-thinking
- Being consistently and authentically themselves
Weaknessess that are typically associated with the Enneagram Type 4 personality include…
- Withdrawing in times of difficulty
- Fixating on what they don’t have
- Tendency to focus too much on themselves
- Reacting strongly and emotionally to hardship
Here’s the Irony..
Enneagram 4’s struggle to find their tribe and to feel understood. But the irony when I learned more about myself through the Enneagram test, was I felt a sense of belonging. I finally could exhale that long awaited sigh of relief. I am understood! I am accepted! At long last! Being highly introverted, this was groundbreaking material.
The key for myself is to constantly seek inspiration and to create. I’m surrounded by inspiration. This is especially true if it’s focussed on personal growth to improve the man I am, and to contribute to a greater good beyond myself. Creating something is easy for me, whether that’s in a form of writing, journaling, blogging or something else cathartic. I’m grateful I rediscovered my passions over the years. I realize it’s important for me to have an outlet for my emotions and running thoughts. In fact, I’ve just submitted a number of applications to volunteer for several mental health organizations. In putting my energy towards something I’m passionate about, I’ll be able to further channel my constant search for purpose. In addition, this breeds positive experiences to feed my desire for growth.
Learning about this and continuing to be woke these last several months has filled me with a ton of optimism. So what if I march to my own beat? So what if I feel different and misunderstood? That’s me! I’m an Enneagram 4 and wear that proudly… well, until tomorrow anyway, when I need to scratch that itch inside of me again (another inside joke for us Enneagram 4’s).
Happy Friday everyone!
(There’s many free online Enneagram tests (simply Google Enneagram Tests) you can take as well. It certainly fascinates me and I’d love to read your comments on what your Enneagram test results show!)