My story about being labeled as a number
The Enneagram —the test that fulfills our desperate need to understand ourselves— has established a cult-like following. According to the test, the world’s existence can be neatly slotted into nine different categories. Like many others, I have become numb to learning everything I can about my given title of “the helper,” or a two on the scale.
My middle school experience was a prime example that there is some truth in being an unhealthy two. The moment I stepped onto school grounds, I knew I wanted to join the group that all the popular kids were a part of: band. Keep in mind, middle school did not mark my peak years. The band teacher saw me with lopsided pigtails and gangly limbs and said, “The French horn would be perfect [for you].”
Music was already a rocky start, but once the class learned how to march, it was clear that I needed to switch instruments because I couldn’t lift the darn thing. I didn’t want to tell my teacher and continued to struggle, wanting to make her happy. After weeks of miserable practices, she recognized that the clarinet was more my speed.
“Average to unhealthy Twos seek validation of their worth by obeying their superego’s demands to sacrifice themselves for others,” the Enneagram website states.
Despite my growing concerns of the limiting nine categories, I think that the Enneagram is a helpful tool in beginning to understand human nature. My need to please others outweighed common sense in middle school, and reading the potential flaws of a two helped me come to terms with the learning process of a child.
A newbie might be astounded by the endless amount of information on the Enneagram; there are books, podcasts and songs that are available for us to practice self-awareness. But constant research of our own categories can easily lead to enamored narcissism.
In life, there are many numbers that determine our value. Bank accounts, scales, grades and everything in between. The constant stream of numbers that are thrown in our faces plague our conscience. They cloud our minds from life’s priorities. Why should we add even more to the list, like the Enneagram’s 1-9 scale?
Each number has deep-rooted stereotypes, and complete strangers can falsey judge us based off of them. But our actions and self worth should be more deeply rooted than a number.
According to my Enneagram type, over-apologizing is my mantra because I want to feel accepted. I am a people pleaser at heart, failing to have priorities in check. This past year I have come a long way from that role because I finally quit. I quit putting myself and others into the box of a number.
Personality tests are not a new invention. There have been fads following the same ideology of the Enneagram test. Some of these are Myers Briggs, Eysenck and Keirsey. All of these tests have claimed to have the key to human nature from a different perspective. And every one of these tests has been replaced by another, newer one which claims to have all the answers.
After recognizing that I was obsessed with the number that labeled my soul, I took a step back. The first step was unfollowing all of the Instagram accounts about the numbers and their deeper meanings. Then, I observed Azusa Pacific’s student culture and noticed one recurring theme — how normal it was to have conversations with others about the Enneagram.
To a certain extent, life’s all-consuming problems can be traced back to the Enneagram. Trying to find a future spouse? Just find someone with the right number. Having trouble in class? It’s probably because of your number.
We have an obligation to ourselves to absorb the information that is thrown at us on a daily basis, and act on it responsibly. The boxes that Enneagram’s labels put us in can be broken, if we choose to do so — I should know.