Life as a 4

Kim W Freeman   |   April 27, 2018 

I have been a student of personality assessments for a long while. And I wish I could say my interest stems from wanting to know more about others, but really, it stems from wanting to learn more about myself and all the “whys?” of my individual blend of honest, introverted, artsy, and quirky. That’s the reason I’ve taken and re-taken the Myers Briggs, DISC, and even the oftentimes hilarious Buzzfeed quizzes that tell you just which Jane Austen Bennet sister you are—I’m Lizzie, of course.

Who Am I?

This deep desire to understand what goes on inside my brain has been a part of who I am since I can remember. I felt that the image I presented to the world (introvert extreme, sweet, compliant) wasn’t exactly who I was on the inside—imaginative, snarky, ironic, eager to lead, and desperate for affirmation that might give me clues as to what I needed to do with my life. There had to be something “different” about me. I couldn’t reconcile the two Kims that I seemed to be and often asked myself “What’s wrong with me?”

Mostly I asked it in my mind and not out loud, but none-the-less, I have always felt feelings of not-quite-ness, not enough, on the fringe, and that I was completely different from others. And to some degree, I both loved and hated this about myself. This is also how I thought most others processed life but that everyone else had figured out how to move forward with confidence, popularity, tactfulness, despite that constant longing inside to be understood . . . Right?

Nope. Thankfully, I no longer think this is an accurate assessment of most people. Unless you’re a 4 on the Enneagram, which I happen to be, you’re probably not constantly telling yourself that you don’t ever seem to fit in anywhere. That you’re unique, original, and different. You don’t have to because you don’t need this to be truth in your life for you to be OK.

But if you’re a 4, you totally understand this and you honestly can’t help this part about your personality. I get it. Why else did I wear steel-toed combat boots with plaid skirts in high school? I wanted to look grunge, without actually being grunge because that was different. I wish I had a picture to show you.

So what is the Enneagram?

Turns out many things I often thought and felt were true, weren’t. I no longer think most people process life like I did and still do. In fact, I’d say most people, in general, do not analyze their inner thoughts and behaviors constantly in the hopes of becoming more self-aware, sometimes to the point of paralysis because the constant asking, “Who am I?” becomes exhausting. I’ve rarely found others who understood the need I had to process every aspect of life verbally so they could understand how they felt about something (thank goodness, right?). I always had to either write it out or talk it out to understand my own overwhelming feelings. I still have to do this at times, although I hope I’m more tempered and careful about my oversharing.

Maybe I'm a 1

But there’s more to this story because I didn’t initially think I was a 4—also called the Romantic or the Individualist. When I first read “The Road Back to You” by Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile I thought I was a 1 on the Enneagram. Even though I’m horrible with details unless it involves something creative, and I am really not a perfectionist about most things. None-the-less, in this season when I took the test I was convinced that I was a 1 because aspects of my life at the time demanded less creativity and more managing details. Historically, I hadn’t been a 1 (thinking back to my childhood), but in the middle of a season of big transitions, losses, and responsibilities, I was basing my assessment on the present me or the me I thought I had to be at the time.

All that to say, if you’re in a season of high stress or transition and take a personality assessment, you may want to follow up by asking a spouse or best friend their opinion. And when they look at you like you’re an alien and say, “That doesn’t sound like you at all,” then it would be wise to listen. Because that’s what my husband said about me being a 1, and he was right. And further self-reflection combined with some big changes in my life gave me the space I needed to examine myself with a fresh perspective.

Does it Matter?

I think it matters how we see ourselves. I believe most of us don’t spend enough time reflecting on who we are in light of who Christ has created us to be. We do the next thing. We listen to inner and outer critics. We sideline our hopes and dreams. We try to love others well enough, but neglect to truly love ourselves and the wonderful creation that God had in mind when he formed us. I think being a healthy Christian means knowing who YOU are in Christ first so that you can love others well, too. I think it's also knowing our strengths and weaknesses so we can grow and mature and use our gifts well.

The Enneagram has been a useful tool for me understanding some parts of my personality I’ve always thought were sort of weird. It has also been instrumental in helping me step into a new season of life with more self-awareness and confidence. One area specifically is being more aware of how I tend to let feelings take over. Now I try to pause and process before I react. I am also less hard on myself when I procrastinate because it’s a task that doesn’t seem fulfilling—like laundry or spreadsheets or any sort of work involving details or numbers. Because I’m a 4, and we can’t be bothered with trivial matters, we have things to create, beauty to find, and authentic conversations to be had with friends. This is the stuff of life, right?

At least this is what I’m telling my husband these days.

 

Photo by Erica Nilsson on Unsplash

 

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Kim W Freeman is the wearer of many hats: a wife to Jon, mother of five, co-founder of IndiAanya, artist and writer. She has a heart to see women grow in their faith and do life together in authentic community. Her perfect day would include cinnamon cappuccino, scones, rainy weather and an inspiring conversation. She haphazardly blogs over at her own place about life, art and spiritual formation at kwfreeman.com. She and her crew live in Charlotte, NC.

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