The year is coming to a close. We have less than five weeks to finish up our resolutions for 2017. There must be something about the time between the week after Thanksgiving and the first week of Advent. I tend to spend this period in deep reflection. Last year, I made the decision to pull back from my freelance work. Two years ago, I decided to quit pretending as The Gift Curator. This year, I’ve decided to quit being hard on myself.
Several weeks ago, there was a fun quiz circulating about the different personality types according to research of the Enneagram. The results pegged me as a reformer. I liked that idea and saw a lot of truth to that. Well, I wanted to know more. I reserved a copy of the book, The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types, from my local library.
Within a few days, I was holding this thick textbook-like guide in my hands, staring at the cover. First, it’s hard not to notice the insanely long title. I guess it suits the ambition of the book. Most of the cover is words. But, there is also the design. The blue tone is very soothing, with a small gold and white enneagram symbol above the author’s names. Between the main title and the subtitle, there is a small graphic of a dove hovering over a body of water. The sky is kind of dark, like a storm is brewing in the atmosphere. The dove is comprised of clouds and clear blue skies. A notion of finding peace and tranquility amongst the splashes of life. It reminds me of Picasso’s painting of a dove coming out of the side a a woman’s head – not sure what the actual title is, but I refer to it as Peace of Mind. I own a 5×7 copy of the drawing.
When I cracked open this book of wisdom, I was surprised to learn I wasn’t actually The Reformer (1). Turns out, I am The Individualist (4). The description painted a picture of who I am and helped me understand myself better than any other research I’ve found on personality. There was peace of mind to knowing that no matter what I’m doing or how I’m acting, I was true to my Self.
The Individualist is the artist, the melancholic, the aesthete, the special one, and the romantic. We are concerned with knowing who we are and being significant in our world. We are often heard saying, or thinking, “No one understands me.”
As I read more, I realized that the success and failure of my past was based solely on the basic fear I hold, of having no identity. My personality tends to gravitate towards The Helper (2) when losing control and spiraling into unhealthy zones. But, when in a period of growth, I can become The Reformer (1). My eyes were opened to understanding what went wrong in my entrepreneurial venture. It started from a desire to grow, but through the persona I created, I lost my own identity and spiraled into the one who needed to save the world. I clung to the business, those involved in my business, and those associated in my business. They defined me.
Ultimately, I became an extreme giver because I was afraid. Not necessarily afraid to fail as The Gift Curator, but afraid to fail at being me. I became The Gift Curator and the success of me became the success of her. But, one can only live in the unhealthy zone for so long. And, that’s why I collapsed. Comparing myself to natural Helpers (4) wasn’t right. Their fulfillment and peak moments come through their ability to give unceasingly. To think I was capable of such a thing did an injustice to myself. And, I’ve paid dearly for that.
Two years later, I am finally at a place where I can use that failure as a foundation to succeed. Now that I know the warning signs, I can stop myself. I’ve learned the importance of saying No when I need to. It’s not always easy, but it makes all the difference for me. I have to protect myself, my heart, and my mind. They are what bear the fruit of the talents and gifts that are my own. That is my purpose. To stay healthy so I can effectively use what God has given me. My body is a temple.
Until next time –