Expressing Enneagram Four Emotions with Fiction

Sometimes when I tell people I’m an Enneagram Four who has a lot of emotions, I can see them silently doubting me.  And it’s true, in daily life (especially work life) I’m fairly even-keeled and logical.  But one day I was listening to the Prince of Egypt episode of the Good Christian Fun podcast, and I burst into tears when they played a ten-second clip of the song “Deliver Us.”

Everything became clear:  I express my emotions through fiction.

It is in books and movies and television shows that I feel comfortable feeling the anger, longing, and joy that lives inside me.  This is probably why the only time I made progress in therapy was when my therapist finally asked me, “If you had to choose one book to symbolize your life, which would it be?” and I immediately said, “WELL.”

This is also why I can be embarrassingly possessive of my favorite stories.  Here is an actual text conversation with my brother from a couple days ago illustrating how well he knows my neurotic mind:


I infamously got pissed at my mom when we were watching the season 3 finale of LOST and I realized she hadn’t been keeping up with the show while I was at college.  “I just want to enjoy the thing you enjoy with you!” she said (as an Enneagram Two).  I made her leave, because I didn’t want someone who wasn’t emotionally invested ruining my experience.  When I recently told a friend about this, she said, “You’re awful,” and while I see that, I…would do the same thing again.

I see now that as an Enneagram Four, I very often conflate my emotions with my identity.  I’m therefore very protective of them.  I will not show someone The Fall (my favorite movie of all time) unless I am sure they will like it, because my heart cannot handle someone looking at my soul for two hours and then saying, “Eh.”

Now that I think about it a little more, I think that emotionalism is definitely present in me all the time.  But I don’t trust many people to accept, let alone enjoy, the intensity of my feelings, so I keep them inside.  It’s in stories, which are spaces inherently designed for emotion, that I feel safe enough to let everything out.  So if someone doesn’t know the nerd side of me, they will probably be surprised to hear that I’m an Enneagram Four.

Coming to Terms with Being Type Four in the Enneagram

If you don’t know what the Enneagram is, this post won’t make much sense to you.  Check out The Enneagram Institute for more information, and take one of their tests to find your personality type.

Several days ago, I wrote a blog post about my identity crisis when I realized I was not an Enneagram Type Nine, but was instead a Type Four.  I hated being a Four, partly because my brain was wrong that I’d been misidentifying myself, and partly because Fours just kind of seem awful!  But over the last couple days, I’m coming around to being a Four.

For one thing, Lindsay wrote me a letter about how our friendship is compatible based on our personality types (she’s a Two).  It was helpful to see that me being a Four brings something useful to our friendship.  It helped me see that Fours aren’t ALWAYS self-absorbed and moody, but can use their emotionality to draw others into deeper and more intimate relationships.

For another thing, I read Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me? which is a memoir that is about as self-absorbed and emotional as you can get–and it was great!  She unapologetically admits her faults, finds humor in them, and offers her life as an example to be followed (or not).  I’m pretty sure she’s a Four, and it felt so good to see someone with my personality doing something awesome.

Because the thing is, when I found out I was a Four, I still desperately wanted to be a Nine.  All the emotional chaos that comes with being a Four is absent in Nines, and I liked thinking of myself as someone whose negative quality was retreating (instead of what it is: mulling over everything ad nauseum).  So when I found out I was actually a Four, everything inside me wanted to be Someone Else.  What traits could I learn that would make me more like a Nine?  Anything to not be a Four!!

But.  That’s awful!   Continue reading

My Life is a Lie: I’m an Enneagram Type Four, Not a Nine

I’m going through a bit of an identity crisis.  The enneagram is a personality test, and for years I thought I was Type Nine: the Peacemaker with a Need to Avoid.  I even wrote up a long blog post about how much I fit that Type.  But then I got curious and wondered if INFJs are often Type Nines….only to find out they’re generally Type Fours.  So I did a little research and was horrified to discover that I feel a lot like a Four.  Naturally I then took two online tests, and it turns out….I’m a Four, with strong Nine tendencies.

What sucks is….Nines are awesome.  They’re inclusive, good at adapting, and calm under pressure.  Fours, on the other hand, are the WORST.  Everything I read about them was just reading all the things I dislike about myself.  They’re impetuous and moody, dreamy and unsatisfied.  It turns out, I am a Four who desperately wants to be a Nine and has therefore cultivated Nine qualities in her life.  But I’m a Four, the Individual with a Need to be Special.

FOURs draw their vital energy from others.  Their life question is: “What do you think of me?  Do you notice me? Do I catch your eye?”

Reading Richard Rohr’s chapter on Fours in The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective had me underlining everything and then burrowing my face into the couch.  Being a Four is being so needy!  And…I am!  And I hate it!  Unfortunately, I later learned that Fours are super hard on themselves, so my reaction to hating being a Four just means I am even more of a Four than I thought! Continue reading