If you’ve been paying attention to anything I’ve said, written, or posted on social media the past few weeks, you’re probably wondering either 1) what the heck the Enneagram is, and/or 2) why I have this newfound obsession with the Enneagram.
For those of you outside Lee University culture or who might be unfamiliar, the Enneagram is an online personality test. There are nine basic personality types, and most people identify a little with each type because we are complex beings. However, each person identifies most dominantly with one type, and your wing number is the second type you identify closely with– your wing will either be the number to the left or to the right of your dominant type (ex: if you’re a type 6, you will either have a 5 or a 7 wing). The test takes about fifteen minutes if you’d like to take it here. You can also read all the type descriptions here. If you’re uncertain with your results, I would encourage you to take the test two or three times. I’ve taken the test twice, and both times I got the same results: type 2, wing 3.
But what does this mean?
Type Twos are referred to as “The Helpers” or “The Givers”. Twos are known for being generous of spirit and time, helpful, caring, and affectionate. It is also characteristic of twos to be people-pleasing and manipulative. Twos are driven by their love for others, desiring to help and impress genuine care on their friends and family members. While twos are usually associated with positive personality traits, we are actually much the opposite toward ourselves. It is second-nature for twos to give and give and give, showering compliments and encouragements on others; however, when twos are alone amongst our swirling thoughts, we experience difficulty awarding that same love to ourselves.
like a force to be reckoned with
a mighty ocean or a gentle kiss
i will love you with every single thing I have
like a tidal wave I’ll make a mess
or calm waters if that serves you best
i will love you without any strings attached.
–Lyrics from Atlas: Two, a Sleeping At Last Enneagram song
Type Threes are referred to as “The Achievers”. I don’t know quite as much about threes because it is not my dominant type but rather my wing. I do know threes are typically driven by success, take pride in attention from others and their achievements, and are image-conscious. Threes often crave perfection and can be incredibly competitive. I’ve seen my three-wing appear most audibly in the way I desire success in my relationships with other people. Not only do I myself desire this success, but I want other people to see I am socially successful based on my circle of friends and romantic relationships.
maybe i’ve done enough,
finally catching up.
for the first time i see an image of
my brokenness utterly worthy of love.
maybe i’ve done enough.
–Lyrics from Atlas: Three, a Sleeping At Last Enneagram song
Each personality type has a basic fear and a basic desire. As a two, my basic fear is going unnoticed and unable to be loved, therefore my basic desire is to feel loved. A three’s basic fear is unworthiness, therefore their basic desire is being worthy. It makes perfect sense that twos and threes fears and desires would go almost hand-in-hand because oftentimes we associate our worth with how much love we are receiving from others.
When I first got my enneagram test results, I didn’t see myself as a two. It wasn’t until I read a two’s basic fear of going unloved that I felt called out. The paradox of being a two is that we cannot love others authentically if we do not love ourselves first. How can anyone take our compliments if we cannot take them ourselves?
I considered this idea as I stepped into a position of leadership this year. I was given the opportunity to serve my hall (Sharp First WHOOP WHOOP) as a co-floor leader; floor leaders lead small group on the hall. Our team is compiled of: the Sharp chaplain, two FLs from Sharp First, two from Sharp Second, and two from Sharp Third. We meet weekly as a team and have weekly individual meetings with our chaplain. Funny enough, every person on our team is an Enneagram two except one girl (she’s a seven). I’ve discovered how easy it is for us to love and build each other up, but many of us struggle to love ourselves inwardly with no strings attached.
The Enneagram doesn’t put you in a box. It shows you the box you’re already in and how to get out of it. –Ian Cron, from The Road Back to You podcast
I’ve experienced difficulty loving myself throughout the course of my life, especially in the tough conversations, mistakes, and disappointments– and trust me, these are all in great abundance once you take on the responsibility of leading others.
Tough conversations: When conflict arises, it takes everything in me to take a step back and evaluate what the best solution is for the problem and all the parties involved. It is my first instinct to attack the problem and overapologize so long as it means avoiding awkward encounters. I want to be able to love people without “faking it”, so I feel the need to fix everything as quickly as possible.
Mistakes: When I mess up, even in the slightest possible way through poor word choice or not saying something I should have (or saying something I shouldn’t have), etc., I beat myself up over it relentlessly. I have trouble accepting I cannot go back in time and change things, and that the world will keep on turning. I overthink, overanalyze, and worry. Realistically, I realize I am not the center of the universe and that most of the things I worry about others may hardly consider.
Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it. –Kahlil Gibran
Disappointments: When the possibility of a new relationship hovers on the horizon, I leap into it blindly. I naturally seek the good in people, and when their unfavorable characteristics outweigh their favorable ones, I usually dismiss the red flags because I feel such affinity and loyalty for the person. This almost unfailingly leads to heartbreak and hopelessness when I discover a guy I was interested in is actually a rather unpleasant human; I was choosing not to see him in honest light the whole time because I was so in love with the possibility of being loved.
you treat them as if they have a heart like yours
but not everyone can be as soft and tender as you
you don’t see the person they are
you see the person they have the potential to be
you give and give till they have taken everything
out of you and leave you empty
Thus the tragedy of twos.
The great news for twos, though, is that when we are at our best and healthiest, we are able to show the love of God to others and accept His love in our own lives. I’m learning to love myself better every single day and committing to believing the promises God’s given me. It is only through this process that I can open up my heart to being loved by my peers and truly believe it.
I take so much joy in knowing that whoever and wherever my future husband is, he is going to be so incredibly loved by his future wife someday. I hope he already knows how much our Heavenly Father cherishes him because I will never be able to love him with the force and brevity that God loves. However, I can imitate Christ’s love, and I am so tremendously delighted to adore, admire, and support my man one day.
I would not trade my Enneagram results for any other’s; I love being a two. I love love, and I love encouraging others. The more I study, learn, and engage in conversation about the Enneagram and specifically being a two, the more I’m able to recognize the beauty and complexity with which God created humans. If the world were full of twos, we would all be emotional messes. If the world were full of threes, we would all be in desperate competition with each other. God designed each and every one of us differently so that we would balance the personality scales of life and work toward living in harmony with one another.
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(If you wanna, comment with your Enneagram type!)