This was originally published at The Enneagram Coach, the business I subsequently sold February 1, 2016. It is now published here in its entirety.
About two and a half months after I moved to Nashville, I flew back home to be in a friend's wedding. Already I'd picked up on differences in my hometown: new construction, new businesses, my friends' new friends. It was my hometown but it was no longer my home. Since I was there for the wedding, I saw hardly anyone outside of the bridal party, save for my parents, my best friend, and my hairstylist. Priorities.
For the first time in 12 years, I didn't have my own car in my hometown. Disconcerting to be launched back to the high school days of begging rides or asking my parents if I could borrow the car. Because the bridal party had the same schedule for the most part, I asked my friend Mark to be my chauffeur for the festivities, to which he agreed. It would give us more of a chance to catch up.
After the wedding reception, Mark and I debated whether to grab drinks somewhere or call it an evening. Given we were still in the suburbs, it was hard to come up with a place open past midnight. After a day full of wedding activities and a night full of dancing, we were beat. He drove me home to my parents instead.
He pulled into the driveway and we continued talking, determined to catch up even if there was no bar to contain us. And then, out of nowhere, he asked if I'd ever heard of the Enneagram. To which I smoothly replied, "Any a what?!"
I hadn't but the moment he described the ancient personality typing system, I was intrigued and determined to figure out my own type. He had learned about it from his priest and thought I would like learning about it, too. Plus, he wanted to be able to discuss it with someone. He told me to get Richard Rohr's The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective and he refused to tell me what type he thought I was. Smart man.
I tracked down the book once I was back in Nashville and read it over the course of a couple of months. My copy is filled with underlines and stars, noting every part that resonated with me. While I read, I tried to discern what type I was and eventually narrowed it down to Types Two and Four. Then I thought some more and accepted I was a Four.
This was a horrifying realization at first. It's not easy to admit your worst qualities, much less accept them. I clung to the Four's creative, emotionally balanced strengths- apt descriptions for healthy me, which helped me swallow the rest of it more gracefully.
In the years since, the Enneagram has brought such growth and healing in to my life. I'm a different person- a better, healthier person- from the bridesmaid who sat in my friend's car.
Hardly anyone in my circles had heard about the Enneagram back then and while some of my friends may have been interested, most didn't want to invest time in reading a book and figuring out their type. It was something just for me. It helped me notice more and more how my root struggle of envy and comparison played out.
In the spring of 2013, I decided to start therapy again. I wasn't depressed but I recognized I was stuck in most areas of my life. It was time for a counseling tune up. On my second or third visit, my counselor brought up the Enneagram and I almost clapped my hands in glee. This is where my love for the Enenagram really came alive.
My counselor used Enneagram flashcards to confirm I was a Type Four. We then started discussing how the Four's fears, struggles, and motivations played out in my life. I'm fairly self-aware (classic Four) but the Enneagram gave me not only a tool for looking at my life but a language. Then we got into arrows of integration and disintegration and I'll never forget the moment I realized how very Two-like I could be when feeling stressed or insecure. (FYI: I don't recommend exploring the arrows until you have a good grasp on your type. It can get confusing otherwise.)
I could see my Four-ness in every area of my life. I was making better decisions and choosing to respond in healthier ways. It wasn't always easy, as I was going against ingrained habits and well-worn ways of reacting. But every day I had a choice on what I would do.
Experiencing this freedom and healing made me want to help my friends and family. I purchased my own Enneagram flashcards to use with them. Just for fun. Because it's an oral tradition, it comes alive in a brand new way when you discuss your type with someone who knows the types and how they work. I wanted to be that someone for my friends.
That fall I went to a 6 week long Enneagram seminar where we viewed Richard Rohr's teaching DVDs. Each week we discussed what we learned and applied it to our lives. I couldn't shut up about what I was learning.
It wasn't long before my friends started asking me when I was going to start an Enneagram consulting business. (My Type Three friends were especially persistent about this.)
At first, I laughed off these suggestions. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I started writing The Enneagram and Blogging series, which only served to further whet my appetite for all things Enneagram. By the time the series ended, I'd made up my mind to move forward
Thus, The Enneagram Coach was born. It is such a thrill and honor to walk alongside people as they figure out their type and begin to apply its insights to their lives. I practically pinch myself every time I have a session.
Sometimes our callings find us, instead of the other way around.