Recently I was reminiscing with my sister about this time when my cousin was being kind of a jerk and tried to read her diary when she was a pre-teen. In response, she wrote in her diary how she was planning to hurt him, knowing he would find it. Perhaps a little extreme, but, it was effective. He didn’t try to read her diary again.
When you feel vulnerable because someone is overstepping a boundary, it can cause a strong reaction. That’s how I felt the first time I read about my Enneagram number.
If you’re not familiar with The Enneagram, high level, it’s a personality test that involves 9 different numbers, and your type is one of those numbers. The thing that I think makes it unique is that it really cuts to your base motivations. While other personality tests typically describe your traits, the Enneagram tells you why you do what you do. You can read a lot more about it online. The test I took is associated with the book by Ian Cron, The Road Back to You. You can take the test here.
My bachelor’s degree is in psychology, so I am both very fascinated by personality, and very skeptical of most personality tests out there. When I was in school we learned that the most robust personality test that’s available takes over 5 hours to administer. That sounds pretty extreme, but that’s what it takes to cut the crap and test for your actual personality rather than just describe your current mood. The test I linked to above does not take 5 hours, so, take it with a grain of salt. A lot of people need to do a lot of reading before they actually find their true type.
For me, my type came out to be an Enneagram 6. The Loyalist. The good part of a Loyalist is, we are fiercely loyal. We have a fascination with authority, and most 6’s try to get under authority as much as possible in order to feel more secure. I am a counter-phobic 6, so while I am quite aware of authority, I also distrust it. Anytime I feel like someone is trying to get in authority over me, my natural instinct is to be distrustful and to undermine them. And now you know why I’m an entrepreneur.
That stuff didn’t phase me much. The stuff about authority just turned on a light bulb and made me chuckle. I have always been somewhat of an anarchist. If you try to tell me what to do without proving to me that it’s the right thing, I will just go ahead and do what I think is right. But, I’ll somehow manage to do it in a way that makes you still like me.
The dark side of a 6 is fear. We are totally controlled by fear. We are afraid of basically everything. So how we cope is by overthinking how we will respond to the things we are most afraid of. For example, I used to be completely incapable of holding a conversation due to social anxiety. When I decided it was time to get over that anxiety, the way I did it was by planning out conversations. So I’d literally look in the mirror and have a conversation with myself, practicing what I would say and responding to what I thought the other person would say.
The more I read about this, the more it made me feel like someone was reading my diary. I mean, as weird as it is to me, I think a lot of people would describe me as being brave. But that’s the thing. I am afraid of seeming afraid, so I do what I have to do to seem like I’m not actually afraid. Confused yet? Imagine living in my head.
The more I think about it, the more things I uncover that are based on fear. I am afraid that people don’t like me, so I don’t open up to them and therefore I don’t have many close friends. I am afraid that my cats will stop liking me, so I let them sprawl out on my keyboard when I’m in the middle of something. But you know the big kicker? The thing that everyone praises me for because I’m so brave, is actually also based on fear.
Everyone says how brave I was for quitting my day job to pursue full-time entrepreneurship. But you know why I did that? I am TERRIFIED of complacency. The idea that I could live my life without putting a mark on the world, terrifies me. It’s a subtle but important difference from being excited to make my mark on the world, which I think is why most successful entrepreneurs do what they do. So basically, I do everything that I do because of fear. Which, if you were wondering, is not a great reason to do things.
What a mess. I wish I had a resolution, but I don’t yet. I know I will find a way to work through it though. Are there any other 6’s out there? Any tips on how to overcome the fear?