I’ve always loved a good personality test. When I was an awkward adolescent, I spent hours on sparknotes.com, which I sometimes used for help on my English homework, but mostly visited in order to do silly quizzes like “Which Friends Character Are You?” or “What Kind of Cheese Are You?”
Back then, I don’t think that I could have named why these quizzes were so interesting to me. I know now that I was learning about myself by relating to various archetypes and metaphors, no matter how silly. I saw myself more in Phoebe’s quirkiness than Monica’s perfectionism, in the funkiness of limburger than the popularity of cheddar.
As I grew up, so did my taste in personality frameworks. I had a Myers-Briggs phase (ENFP here!) and spent many hours analyzing the differences between my dominant function and that of my friends. By studying those four little letters, I learned a lot about how I navigate the world, how I work best, and what role I tend to play in different group settings.
Then, I discovered the Enneagram. At first, I thought it was just another fun thing to talk about with friends at parties. Yet, here I am, years later, unearthing even more layers of myself by studying the Enneagram. I’m still discovering the roots of unconscious behaviors I embody and beliefs about myself, others, and the world that I didn’t know I had. It would not be an exaggeration to say that it changed my life.
If you’re looking for a way to learn more about yourself and connect to something beyond your ego, I highly recommend working with the Enneagram. The Enneagram is a system of nine interrelated archetypes that goes beyond mere personality into providing insight into the core psychological wounds that drive us and the spiritual gifts that we each have to offer the world. The Enneagram is a powerful tool for personal transformation.
Where to begin:
- Take a test. I recommend the $12 test on the Enneagram Institute’s website. There’s also a decent free test at Eclectic Energies.
- Read your top three matches. Which one do you relate to the most? As you read, it’s important to remember that the Enneagram is about your inner motivations, not just about how you behave.
- Observe. Begin to notice where certain egoic patterns show up in your life, work, and relationships.
Don’t worry, it’s not uncommon to mistype at first! My first big lesson from the Enneagram actually came through the realization that I wasn’t a Type 2. I had spent a few months thinking, “Wow, I’m ‘The Helper.’ They’re so kind and giving. That sounds like me!” Then, I read about the Type 8, “The Challenger,” and had a sinking realization that it was a perfect description of so much of what I had struggled with my whole life: 8s are assertive to the point of aggressive, how female 8s are often seen as bossy or bitchy, others have a hard time with the intensity of 8s. But, because 8s are protective of those they care about and generous to a fault — and as a woman, I’m socialized to be a Helper — I had mistyped myself as a 2.
It was uncomfortable at first to acknowledge my flaws; truly, I felt exposed when reading about my type. But this was the first big step on a path of releasing myself from unhealthy patterns I didn’t even know I had, flaws that were keeping me from becoming who I wanted to be, and, in fact, harming relationships that were important to me.
To get started on your Enneagram journey, below are three of my favorite resources. Enjoy!