t started as an interest in astrology and wanting to know more about who I was on a deeper than surface level…I remember sitting at my workspace in my apartment one afternoon during a break between projects, and deciding to pull my Natal chart from Cafe Astrology. Prior to that day I knew I was a Taurus, but there were parts of being a bull that I didn’t resonate with.
When I saw my full chart spread before me, and I could dig into the meaning behind my Rising sign, or Moon sign (both are Capricorn in case you were curious), I felt so much more understood. It was like I felt light shining into those dark little spots within my personality that I wasn’t so familiar with, and could finally see all of my idiosyncrasies for what they were. Over the following years I dug into Myers-Briggs, tugging my friends and family along and teaching them about each of their types. I attempted Human Design and all of the authorities, centers, channels, and gates that came with it. I even vowed to take a step back from introspection and all of this personality analysis for a bit and just focus on the world around me.
A couple of months ago, I was listening to a podcast and the hosts mentioned the Enneagram. I was instantly interested, and a bit skeptical because I know there are approaches to the Enneagram that are religious based, and that's just not for me. (No offense to those who take that approach.) But my curiosity won over, and I started reading about it. It felt simple compared to the other tests and typologies out there, and I was skeptical that something as basic as 9 numbers could really define our whole population. I took an online test, bought a book, and learned that I am a Type 3. For anyone that’s new to the Enneagram, Type 3s are the Performers of the bunch. They’re part of the Feeling Triad, which is totally ironic because the numbers inside this triad do a terrible job of properly emoting (or so I’ve been told). Type 3s define their value based solely off of what others think of them…particularly whether or not other people perceive them as successful. To a 3, success = value, and when you ask them what they really want out of their lives, they often struggle to answer because they truly don’t know.
Let me interject with a little prelude, here. For the past 22 years of my life (since the ripe age of 9 if you’d like more context), I’ve been obsessed with being perfect at everything I do. I hyper-select things to participate in based on whether or not I can master them. I picked my classes in college because they were the most challenging options available in my degree program (and I wanted to be able to be versatile in my career), I started my business as a middle finger to the people who doubted that my chosen career was sustainable or even considered a "real job". My most recent career move? Chosen because the role has been male dominated since the beginning, and would have more responsibility and an accelerated path to promotion. Don't get me wrong, I didn't just throw these things on my plate to impress others, they were all things that were right for me. When I found the Enneagram, I was burnt out, exhausted, riddled with digestive issues, autoimmune symptoms, and had a shell of a personality. My body was done putting up with this mountain of pressure I had placed upon it.
When I read that statement for the first time, I felt my stomach lurch. Suddenly I understood why I was always running full stop at the nearest mountain, and I finally felt normal for all of the mental stress that I was experiencing as a result. There were other people like me out there, struggling with the same shit. And realizing that felt good. I felt like one of those gray clipart icons that represent a human, with a big white question mark smack in the middle of it. Sticking out from that gray human icon is a line pointing to each of these things:
What came next was the important part: I realized that I had no idea who I was without the value that I derived from being successful at those things. In order to be a happy and whole person, I needed to learn how to love myself for just being a human being alive on this earth. Then I needed to figure out what else I loved and pursue that, without fear of failing at it. That was a hard pill to swallow. I felt like I was starting from scratch, like I was a baby fresh out of the womb figuring out what the world was about. It’s hard to uncover stuff like this and just sit with it in acceptance, but it’s so so important.
I’m only a few months into this journey, but I can tell you already that it’s going well. I’m digging into what success actually means for me, and why I need it so badly, then crafting a new version of success based on how I really feel. I’ve inventoried what gets sacrificed when I’m sprinting at that mountain, and it’s stuff that I’m not willing to sacrifice anymore: my health, my relationship, my family, my friends, my hobbies, etc. I’m sitting in silence daily, meditating and finding peace in the world as it is, without trying to perfect it or be successful at it.
I know that there will be much more time spent erasing those preconceived thoughts and replacing them with healthier, more compassionate and truthful statements. There will be more time actually feeling my emotions instead of squashing them with work or the gym or other things I can be good at. There will be more time spent loving myself, being kind to myself, and learning what I actually like. But all of this will be worth it to create a beautifully colored in, vibrant human girl who is not amorphous and blob-like…she’ll be someone who is no longer defined by those things that she surrounds herself with, but stands alone as an individual.
At a time when my life was trending toward total body burnout, I needed an intervention. I needed to understand why I pushed myself so hard at everything I tried, why I ruthlessly ignored my body when she told me she was tired, or unhappy, or hungry, and why I only felt happy when I was on the receiving end of positive feedback. I couldn’t keep going at the pace I was going, but I didn’t know how to stop, or even if I needed to. The Enneagram was the push off the cliff that I didn’t know I needed. In a society where so many of us are disconnected from who we really are, maybe we all need a little push.
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