This year, our Houston Moms writers will be giving you first-hand accounts of life behind their Enneagram type. For an introduction to the Enneagram, see this post, and then read on as Lauren shares her experience of living as an Enneagram Four.
Have you ever pictured what it looks like inside your mind?
Sometimes I daydream about it. I imagine my husband’s mind looks something like the inside of a computer, all wires and and bright lights, always taking in new information and coding it into detailed subfiles for future use.
My father’s would look something like a filing room filled with rows and rows of cabinets; notes pinned to a messy cork boards and hundreds of files stacked across an oversized wooden desk.
The inside of my mind is a kaleidoscope. A tapestry of winged ships sailing across oceans of words, forming sentences with each crest of its waves. Of mythical creatures formed from stardust and a pencil that creates worlds with each scratch of graphite against paper.
You could say that my mind is a bit on the whimsical side. Even as I write this I’ll admit that the vision of my own internal world is a bit…fanciful and hyperbolic compared to that of my dad or husband. But then that’s what it’s like being an Enneagram Four.
We are called ‘The Individualists’ because, in essence, our identity stems from the differences we see between ourselves and those around us. We view ourselves as unique and set apart from others. And while Type Fours often focus on the distinctive gifts that make us special, we’re also the first to point out our remarkable flaws as well. Many Fours believe that we’re uniquely disadvantaged, that we lack something within us that other possess allowing them to easily make friends and feel comfortable in social groups.
I remember watching the old Christmas Special about the Land of Misfit Toys as a kid and identifying, ahem, rather a bit too much actually, with the square-wheeled train and the spotted elephant. Being different has its upsides, but can also feel rather isolating.
The truth is, as different as Fours see ourselves from others, we long to connect with individuals who can really see and appreciate us for the uniqueness we possess. It wasn’t until my mid to late 20’s that I started to really understand what I was looking for in the people I surrounded myself with. I felt most at ease with those who let me be my offbeat self. Who not only understood my quirks, but appreciated them.
Pros of being an Enneagram Four
Like most Fours, I have many wonderful qualities. I’m creative and expressive, intuitive and highly empathetic. Seriously. My husband says I’m like a human barometer for other people’s emotions, able to pick up on the undercurrent of their feelings even when they attempt to hide them. Perhaps it’s because of this high level of empathy that Fours are comfortable with the darker emotions in the world and the don’t shy away from painful and complex emotions in others. Mine tends to be the shoulder those around me cry on when things in their lives get a little too heavy. Tears never phase me and I’ve spent enough time in a dark place myself that sharing a little darkness with someone doesn’t seem like such a big deal.
Cons of being an Enneagram Four
But on the downside, I often struggle with moodiness and melancholy. I’m sure this stems, at least in part, from the constant barrage of emotions I pick up from others. You could call this the negative side to having a Four’s high level of empathy. But it also comes from self-consciousness and never quite feeling like I fit in with those around me. I long to connect with people in real and honest ways, but, in typical Four fashion, find my lack of social ease makes it challenging for me to do so with people I don’t intimately know.
I wouldn’t say being a Type Four is the easiest thing, but I wouldn’t change who I am for anything. We’re flawed and we’re moody, self-aware and sensitive to others. And at the end of the day, all we really want is to be our own authentic selves and find our unique place in the world. Whatever that may be.