I am currently sitting on my bed, surrounded by Enneagram books.
I blame my friend Kortney, but in the best way, because if you are a homeschooler, then you know that these kinds of intense rabbit trails lead to tons of learning, even if you are 40. Ahem.
It all started with a conversation in Nashville, TN. Amazing writer/blogger/business ladies were going around the table talking The Enneagram, and sharing their types – “I’m a 2,” “I’m a 4,” “I’m a 6,” “I’m an 8.”
Everyone sounded like really self-aware cheerleaders, and there I was, feeling like the dork who can NOT figure this out.
I have tried. I have taken various tests.
At least 30 times.
One time I’m a 2, the next time a 6. I’ve been a 1, a 4 and a 9.
I’ve been more things that I haven’t been.
But most commonly, if you use even more math, I am either a 2 or a 9.
Kortney, my better half, my muse, says that confused people are often 9s. Nines are like Enneagram chameleons.
(Please put us on top of things and watch us change color, Dustin.)
Plus, women often “seem” like 2s or misidentify as 2s (“The Helper”) because women are generally … helpful.
So just because I hold a door for a new mom, or shoot her husband side-eye for making her carry the baby carseat around the Chipotle parking lot after what is obviously the first-week baby check-up, I might seem like a 2.
But I am not. I am just a woman, standing behind a new family, waiting for my guacamole.
IMPORTANT: I am not an Enneagram expert. Far from it.
But lately, I’ve been diving deep, and here is what I’ve come up with to try to figure out more about this whole ancient whosamahwhats which is possibly nonsense, maybe witchcraft, and/or could be the key to understanding ourselves and the world so much better.
ALSO IMPORTANT: I am more than open to all feedback, but I needed to put some things in my head to help this all line up a little. This was my way of doing it.
So I give you:
The Enneagram for Beginners Who Also Like Pop Culture
Enneagram 1 – The Reformer
How I picture Ones in my head:
Ones sense right and wrong, are ethical and want the world to be a little more orderly than it actually is.
Take our friend Ben, who wants simple courtesy like being notified that his roommates are throwing a giant Halloween party ahead of time. (With “blooood orphaaans.”)
It’s not a coincidence that what Ben gets on Treat Yo’ Self Day is a full Batman costume, because Ones like justice.
When Ben gets stressed, he can get a little perfectionistic and rigid.
But he’s so cute, we forgive him, right?
Enneagram 2 – The Helper
How I picture Twos in my head:
Pam puts out candy every day and just wants everyone to be happy. That includes her fiancé Roy, who takes advantage of her and does not appreciate her at all. (Remember the video iPod/sweater Christmas?)
Pam eventually realizes she is meant to be with Jim, but it takes so much for her to advocate for herself – she doesn’t want anyone to be mad or inconvenienced by her wants or needs.
She literally needs to walk across hot coals to finally get brave enough to share her feelings.
But Pam can be assertive and she wants others to be better. Remember when she tried to help everyone with their New Year’s resolutions? And how she’s constantly trying to get Kelly to run away from Ryan (instead of running away with Ryan. Ugh. Oh Kelly.)
Enneagram 3 – The Achiever
How I picture Threes in my head:
Always striving, Tom is an idea man. He is never down for long, and seems to reinvent himself easily.
Tom’s a charmer, but sometimes he gets so caught up in becoming a mogul, that he takes his friends for granted. Other times, he harnesses his charm to help his friends, though, like when he gets sponsors for the Harvest Festival by hanging out with a bunch of old dudes in a steamroom.
When Tom’s business with Jean-Ralphio goes bankrupt, he initially refuses to take back his old job at the parks department. But Tom grows over time and realizes that his friends are at least as important as fame.
Enneagram 4 – The Individualist
How I picture Fours in my head:
April Ludgate Macklin Karate Dwyer
April hates everything, right?
Except animals. And Andy.
And, well, Ron and Leslie, and usually Tom and Donna and Ben and Chris.
So basically April hates Jerry (doesn’t everyone) and Ann, but she only hates Ann because Ann used to date Andy, and really she kind of loves Ann secretly, and is even secretly nice to Jerry.
This sums up Fours for me. Fours don’t hate everything, but they can be moody and a little melancholy. It’s just because they feel different.
But the “different” gives them ideas no one else would think of. Fours are creative. I mean, who helped save all the animals when the shelter closed down? That’s right. April Ludgate Macklin Karate Dwyer.
Enneagram 5 – The Investigator
How I picture Fives in my head:
Someone who first met Ron would think he didn’t allow himself to have deep feelings about much of anything. That’s not true at all, of course – he enjoys wood working, meat and brown alcohol.
But Ron doesn’t want people to know that he has deep pursuits – he wants to keep things private, including his past marital exploits, his birthday and his address.
When Tammies return, Ron’s structured world falls apart instantly, and it’s always his friends who help to bring him back to himself.
Without a Tammy in his life, Ron is stable, if not friendly, but he is always taking in the greater details of a situation, and often willing to counsel those who will benefit from his calm mentorship. (i.e. Leslie, Tom, April … Everybody.)
Enneagram 6 – The Loyalist
How I picture Sixes in my head:
Dwight might be the most devoted employee in this history of the world. Definitely in the history of paper.
(By the way, Dwight knows everything about the history of paper.)
Of course he does. Because Dwight is fiercely loyal to Dunder Mifflin, and his boss, Michael Scott.
Dwight sees past Michael’s many goofball tendencies and is willing to help defend the office at any time from perceived threats – remember the fire safety drill, Dwight’s annual updates on the thousand-year-old martial arts, and Dwight even coming to the rescue of his nemesis Jim when Roy shows up ready for a fight?
Only much later do we learn that Dwight has anxiety. But he learns how to treat it, and through time, he reaches Perfectenschlag, which makes him the perfect choice for new branch manager.
Enneagram 7 – The Enthusiast
How I picture Sevens in my head:
Chris is “lit-rally” thrilled just to be alive. So it’s nothing for him to run 17 miles in the morning, and then cook everyone turkey burgers for lunch, all while managing an entire city government.
You really think that nothing can bring Chris down until he has to confront something painful or scary, like disciplining Leslie and Ben for their relationship, or, you know, his own mortality.
Chris would never be negative when helping his pals through a crisis, but the idea of not living to be 130 is terrifying for him, and he has to go through a lot of counseling with Dr. Richard Nygard to get back to a place of optimism and zeal.
There’s a reason Ben and Chris get paired up as Butch Countsidy and the Sumdance Kid.
Chris tends to be very passionate.
“Is there anything we can do about that, Ben?”
Enneagram 8 – The Challenger
How I picture Eights in my head:
When Nellie shows up in Scranton, she finds an empty desk in Andy’s office, and takes it.
Why not? Andy’s off trying to woo Erin – and “if the seat is open, the job is open.”
Nellie is ambitious, but we soon find out that she doesn’t have a lot of control in other aspects of her life. She got her heart broken by a magician, she has a shopping addiction, and she wants a baby more than anything, but isn’t having much luck with adoption.
Nellie can be confrontational – even subtly – she dresses up as “Sexy Toby” for Halloween.
But she finds a role that fits as Special Projects Manager, and she eventually has the guts to become a mother in a very unorthodox kind of way … Nellie has kindness at her core and an inner strength that helps her overcome obstacles. Nellie is going to be OK.
Enneagram 9 – The Peacemaker
How I picture Nines in my head:
Guess which Enneagram number was hardest for me to find an example of? That’s right – Nines.
But then I thought of the chameleon idea …
Remember Ann’s boxes of boyfriend stuff? Her Andy phase, her Chris phase …? One might even argue that she goes through a years-long “Leslie’s BFF phase.”
Because Ann is a little scared to just be herself.
She also wants people to like her (so she shares gruesome medical stories with Ron and April, even though April basically has a hobby of torturing Ann), and she works as a nurse, so I bet she could easily get mistyped as a 2.
But I think what defines Ann is her initial spongy-ness. She is so go-with-the-flow that she’s ended up a little lonely.
It’s her friendships and messy relationships that help her finally go against the grain, deciding to get pregnant as a single woman. With that decision, we begin to see Ann grow into herself – not-marrying Chris but committing to him, moving to Michigan, and spreading her beautiful chestnut-haired sunfish wings. Um, fins.
Note: As television characters, these examples are extreme characterizations – as we real people, we all need to reign it in a little more than these folks. But – keeping these examples in my head has proven helpful as I continue to explore the Enneagram.
Speaking of which, some resources:
- The Road Back to You
- The Wisdom of the Enneagram
- The Enneagram Made Easy
- Literally hours and hours of watching The Office and Parks and Rec.