A couple of years ago when I was interning for my church, I took a personality test called the Enneagram along with all the other interns. The test and post-discussion was conducted by an Enneagram specialist during our training to help us relate to each other and bond as a cohesive team. I had taken other personality tests, but this was the first opportunity I’d had to talk in depth with an expert about what the results meant for me and the people I worked with.
Our conversation was fascinating. I remember being afraid of taking up too much of the group’s time talking and asking questions, I was so curious. The Enneagram’s descriptions of the inner workings of my heart and mind so accurately portrayed my motivations, moods and behaviors. It went on to relate examples of what would be exciting or scary to me, and even how I interact with other types on the spectrum, ways to grow and negative traits to keep an eye on.
I felt that the Enneagram somehow knew me better than I knew myself, as if all us interns had set down to have our fortunes read in our church’s prayer room by the light of the counselor’s Bath & Body Works candle she had brought along and placed in the center of our table. Our reactions were reverent, all of us cognizant of the depth of these personal truths we had just been made aware of. We were amazed at how much impact the knowing had not only on our jobs, but on the rest of our lives. We looked around the table like we could see into each others’ souls.
Last night I stumbled upon Leigh Kramer‘s illuminating tour through The Enneagram and Blogging. It was a flashback to the summer I discovered I was a type Six, and the realization that there are other type Sixes out there that do the weird things and think the weird things I do. That’s one helpful thing about having a label (a healthy label). You know that you’re part of a class, within a system of classification. You know you’re not alone. Or in other words, you’re normal! Wow. This is always new news to me…
Leigh’s description of how Sixes blog made me LOL a little because of how true it was of me. The things my husband has teased me about since I started blogging (my obsession over comments, likes, and follows; my uncertainty of how much I should say or not say; worrying what others will think of what I write and thus of me) were all part of her post. I had to share this discovery with him and we shared some mutual giggles.
While most of the time I feel like I don’t know what the heck I’m doing with this blog, I totally identified with Leigh’s list of post topics typical of a type Six and was reminded of why I started writing here.
Typical Blogging Topics of a Type Six
- Relationships (marriage, friendship, etc.)
- Reading +
- Faith +
- General life +
- Struggles and fears +
- Grace vs. legalism
- DIY projects
- How they’re processing various situations/struggles
The topics with plusses are the ones I most gravitate towards, though I’ve spread out over some of the others mentioned as well. (Proof: My last post was about apple pancakes – my very first and only recipe post so far!)
Leigh’s research shows that Sixes blog to experiment with creative writing, work towards publication, make a difference, and connect with others. “They want to be a voice for those struggling to break free,” she says. Flashback to my early post, Sweet Cream Vanilla, where I end with a blessing for “everyone emerging” and a quote by Parker Palmer. (That was when I started thinking “Holy guacamole, this girl is on to something!”)
I really resonated with Leigh’s list of what Sixes like about blogging, especially “having a place to process and explore what’s on their mind,” “receiving positive feedback,” and “freedom to create”. If you want to know spot on what my struggles of a type Six blogger are, here’s a quote from her post:
“Respondents reported having a hard time hitting ‘publish,’ questioning whether it [their writing] was good enough or worth reading. They wish they had a different writing style or more authoritative voice. They may not tell friends and family about their blog. They worry what they write won’t be well received, which taps right back in to their core desires and fears. Blogging can be an act of vulnerability and Sixes face their fears every time they write and share a new post. Commendable, really. But oh how they battle with themselves to get there.”
My grandma mentioned over lunch with me and my mom once years ago, “When Leslie speaks, you know she’s really thought about it and has something to say.” It took me by surprise when she said it. I don’t even remember what turn the conversation took to get to that comment. I didn’t think I was that guarded around my family, just not super chatty maybe. Hearing her say this about me helped me see that people really do see me as someone who holds her tongue until the just right thing to say comes along. That’s basically my relationship with writing and blogging. Sometimes I mull it over a bit much.
Finally, strengths. Though I wouldn’t openly tell you myself, Leigh reports that the strength of a type Six blogger is first their writing, second their honesty, and third their compassion. She draws a picture of what it looks like to be a healthy Six:
Healthy Sixes also learn to listen to themselves, a huge strength. They sense what’s possible and what isn’t and are more likely to try new things. They’re able to push past their fears and write it anyway, knowing they usually regret not doing so. When a Six is able to share from a place of vulnerability, their courage is inspiring and beautiful to witness. It is a gift to us all. Healthy Sixes can also take ownership of their strengths, whether their creativity or unique content.
Reading Leigh’s findings about the Enneagram and Blogging were a huge encouragement to me to keep writing and try to not get too distracted by comparing myself to the other writers out there in the blogosphere experiencing wild success. Recently a writer/blogger who was interviewed in a video feature on the Huffington Post began following my blog, which I took as a huge-mongous compliment… “So I guess just because I’m not super-published doesn’t meant I don’t suck!” (If you’re reading this, Lisa, I’m going to just die!)
I hope in the future I can say that naming my fears was a powerful step in realizing my potential as a writer. I have the research of the Enneagram to thank for helping identify and define myself in a universe whose reflection of me is often nauseatingly foggy and false. I really can write (I think I can, I think I can), people like to read my blog (yippee!), and I’m proving my inner critic wrong today by hitting “Publish” right. now.
So – what’s your type? Take the test I took.
I’ve been encouraged by quotes about creativity and denying your inner critic lately. Here’s some.
“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” – Vincent Van Gogh
“The revolutionary artist does not create for petty recognition or to indulge his ego; he creates for revolution, for life, for freedom.” -Pablo Picasso
“Stop letting your fear condemn you to mediocrity.” -Steve Maraboli
And last but not least…