Enneagram Interviews Part Four: Gotta Be Me

unique

Welcome everyone to part four of my nine part series where I interview each of the personalities of the Enneagram. Click the following links to see parts one, two, and three. Today, I am interviewing the Four, also known as the Individualist/ Romantic. Welcome Four.

Heya.

That’s an interesting choice of attire you have there.

You like it? I like clothing that just pops, you know? Check out my armband.

What is that? Is that…yak hair?

Human.

Gah!

Heheh, I love doing that. I bought this from an actual witch doctor. It’s one of a kind. I didn’t get this at some crappy hot topic.

Why would you even have something like that?

Because it’s special. For the witch doctor, this was a labor of love. You won’t see anyone else wearing something quite like this.

Okay, well that’s very true, I suppose. So what do you believe, Four?

I believe that people need to find and stay true to themselves, no matter how strange or weird that true self is.

Okay. Can you tell me more?

Yeah. I know people get tired of hearing words like “sheeple” and “the man”, but both of them apply pretty accurately to our society. So many people just follow the crowd and do what everyone else does, that its like, they don’t even know who they are.

You take your average Joe Schmoe from Accounting with his black suit and brick red power tie, and does that guy even know what he is anymore? All he does is what his boss, or company policy, or literally what anybody else tells him to do. There is no room for uniqueness, individuality or for person to be a person in an environment like that.

If I applied for a job with an exposed tattoo and pink hair, I would automatically be rejected before the interview stage, just because I didn’t fit their mold. It shouldn’t make a difference, but cowardly people need something to be afraid of, I guess.

So I hear there are quite a few stereotypes of you out there?

Oh God, yes, and all of them annoy me. Goth…emo, punk, hipster, indie…on and on it goes, and the internet has its fun. Of those, only hipster and indie come remotely close.

Why is that?

It’s like, all of these groups, they want to be individuals, but they’re doing it wrong. They’re joining groups in an attempt to be individual! That ruins the whole point! If you want to be the next Picasso, you don’t paint like Picasso. You paint like you! That’s what Picasso did.

The hipster thing is partially true, especially with things like bands and the like. I like bands that nobody else has listened to, or that have a very unique sound, because it feels like I am listening to something special. But again, when you find someone that has listened to the same obscure band that you have, its pretty cool. It’s almost like finding a soul mate…almost. It’s cool to find someone amongst the herd of sheep that get’s it.

Until that band becomes popular.

Well yeah, then it loses the specialness. That moment is gone.

So you purposely gravitate to obscure and unknown things so you can stay individual and unique?

Well yeah, I guess.

If that’s what you always do, doesn’t that make you predictable? Is it really individual to search out obscure and unique things all the time? Couldn’t it be that the most unpredictable and individual choice is to do something normal from time to time?

If everyone’s doing it, how is it unpredictable?

Hmm. Good point. I guess what I’m trying to ask is, why do you feel the need to “prove” your individuality? Shouldn’t that be a given?

If that’s true, then that means all those people who wear the exact same clothes from GAP, all the people who talk and act the same way, all of those people who are just stereotypes with legs…all of those people are individuals too. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy into that.

Okay. So are there any personalities that get under your skin?

Oh yeah. Mr. Right and Wrong.

You mean One?

Yeah. Look, I get the whole “We need rules to protect society” thing. Really, I do, but One takes it too far. There’s so many unnecessary rules on the books. Most problems people can handle themselves, and if people do argue and dispute a little, so what?

One’s approach denies people from having many amazing experiences, both good and bad. I’m sorry to say, but that’s life. Plus, when everyone has to do what One says we should do when One says we should do it, individuality suffers.

Have you ever read “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest?” One is like nurse Ratched. He plays the “Good helping doctor,” but really he’s the craziest one in the nuthouse. You know how every snowflake is unique? Yeah. One can’t stand that. If One had his way, every snowflake would be the exact same so that no snowflake would feel left out.

Isn’t that a bit of an exaggeration?

Hmph. Not much. Just treat it like a metaphor. One doesn’t appreciate the beauty of the way things are. He just wants all of the snowflakes to be the same, to keep them safe. Well, I’m safe enough, thank you. I like my life with a little risk and I don’t see the problem with that.

Okay. So tell me about your friends Three and Five.

Yeah, I’ll start with Three. At first glance, when I describe so-and-so with the red power tie and no soul, you’d probably think I was describing Three. I mean, you don’t get much more “The Man” than Three, right? Here’s the thing: He’s not really “The Man.”

Three is a guy playing the system for his own personal gain. He didn’t make the system. He is just manipulating it. That’s actually pretty cool and individualist if you think about it. He is like a chameleon, and yeah sometimes he’s a bastard who helps pass stupid laws, but I like to see him as kind of my student. The guy wants to be an individual so badly. You can see it. It’s this deep, underlying yearning he has. It’s like either he’s afraid to or he doesn’t know how. I try to set an example whenever I can. 🙂

How about Five?

Five is just a total nerd, and I have to admit, I gave a soft spot in my heart for geeks. Where I dress and act different to make a statement, he does it because he’s clueless and eccentric. (Those are compliments, by the way.)

The thing about Five is, he dresses however he feels because appearances don’t’ really matter to him. He’s too caught up in his head to worry about stuff like that. Like me, he acts strange, but for different reasons. I think he just has trouble understanding people. Honestly, I think he’s the only personality type that can come up with darker stuff than me.

There are things Five awkwardly blurts out that freak even me out, and that’s not easy to do. The weird thing is, he’s not even trying to. He just naturally thinks up stuff like that. He can come up with some really fascinating art, but it is usually too structured for my taste.

His biggest flaws are that he doesn’t always take care of himself, and he sometimes comes off as a know-it-all. His idea of fun is talking for hours on some obscure subject. Don’t get me wrong. He’s usually very quiet. Just don’t get him started on one of his fixations, or you won’t get him to stop.

Is there anything else you’d like to add before we finish up this interview?

Yeah. Don’t let anyone tell you who you are or what you should be. You and only you get to decide that.

Thank you for your time, Four.

Cool beans.

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6 comments
  1. Kit said:

    This is interesting but as a Four and an INFJ, I have to say this doesn’t cover much about the type. I do love my Fives or INTPs and have collected a few of the icy robot geniuses in my life. There’s so much more to us than just being against the grain. Nobody’s ever called me a hipster. Arm bands and cool beans? Never. I just think you should incorporate the complexity of the types in your portraits. Maybe even do actual interviews with real archetypes! 🙂

    • Hi Kit. Your critique is quite valid. I think of all the Enneagram articles I’ve done so far, Four has been one of the more challenging ones, because by definition, every Four is different. By writing about specific unusual behaviors manners of dress, etc. I have put myself on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, I have to convey the uniqueness that Four yearns for. On the other hand, by choosing particular behaviors, manners of dress, etc, as examples, I inherently put Fours in a box and in fact show a lack of uniqueness. In reality, twenty different Fours could walk into a room, and not a one would dress or perhaps even act exactly the same way. The real key is that part of the ego is built on a yearning to see uniqueness in themselves and others.

      You’re right! There is so much more.Of course, the ironic thing is that, being a Four, you’re probably against the idea of me being able to encapsulate you in the first place.

      You may well never have been called a hipster, but I do think it is a common stereotype people have of Fours, and I’m sure that if anyone ever did call you that it would annoy you to no end. Fours are certainly more than hipsters.

      I did actually consider doing real interviews for these, but I thought against it because I thought that rarely are people completely explained by their type, and even among a single type there are variances. (Wings, etc.)

      I decided that a less complex characterization of the types would better serve the need to show what typical things to look for in the types. If I were to interview someone real for each type, it would mean that other personality traits would bleed into the interview and it would be harder for readers to see just what traits this or that Enneagram type holds.

      Thank you SO much for reading and taking the time to comment.

  2. FriendlyNeighborhoodTypeFour said:

    As a big proponent of the enneagram and type Four myself, I’m incredibly insulted by this. Your whole, “Well you’d be insulted either way because by attempting this I’m inherently trying to put your type in a box” argument is invalid. You’re so incredibly far off the mark here, I don’t even. Do you see my evens? Because I don’t have any. I think I used to, but they’re all gone now.

    What you’ve encapsulated here is, at best, an incredibly, incredibly unhealthy Four. At worst, this is a misidentified Three or Six. Sixes talk in sound bytes (i.e. “Cool beans”) and Threes want to be held in high regard in whatever social groups they choose (And this “four” you’ve fabricated seems waaayyy too into labels to be an actual four. Definitely a 3w4). They both tend to be superficial socially (There is emotional and intellectual depth in there, but, keep in mind, threes and sixes are disconnected from their feeling and thinking functions respectively, so it’s harder to get at save for in close, intimate environments), whereas a true Four would quickly move away from discussing their clothing and social cliques and move toward significant life events and feelings. If you were depicting a real four here, it’d sound more like this:

    ***

    You:
    That is some interesting attire there.

    Four:
    Is it? Thanks, I guess? I’d really rather we cut through the formalities and discuss things that are actually meaningful.

    You:
    So what do you believe, Four?

    Four:
    I wish everyone would be more open with themselves and each other. It is only through deep mutual understanding that everyone can feel accepted and harmonious. Everyone should be able to follow their heart without fear of disapproval.

    ***

    The above example is a very healthy four, but this is nonetheless true.

    I’m gonna go ahead and say this is a really unhealthy 3w4 trying way too hard to assert their specialness. Four don’t do the things, say the things, you have written. The whole thing about Fours being weirded out by Fives for being weird and not even trying? Yeah, here’s the thing: Fours never, never, never ever, ever, never, never TRY to be weird. Never. Literally never. Literally, literally never. I have been given the title of Weird many times throughout my life, though I don’t really believe it to be true. I’m just me. I don’t have to try to be me. Do I try to fit myself into socially acceptable molds? No. Do I purposefully try to fit myself into rebellious ones? Definitely not. The proper mantra of a Four is “I am what I am,” which is a valuable insight for any Four, given that we are on the search of the “self.” Nothing I do is done with the intent of being seen by others in a specific way, nor is this the case with the healthy Fours that I know (Unhealthy Fours are slightly different, but not this severely, and it’s really only unhealthy 4w3s who would be even remotely close to the description you’ve provided in this interview).

    Four’s aren’t just about being “special.” We crave emotional depth, understanding, and acceptance, which is why your type description is so upsetting. Where “special” comes in is that we want to be able to be ourselves (So we are “special” insofar as every individual is unique) and find acceptance. All this type description does is set up anybody using this as an actual enneagram resource for disaster. It completely denies the understanding that fours are after, chokes it, beats it into submission, puts it in a blender, and uses it as special sauce on a Big Mac.

    General rule of thumb: If they are trying too hard, they aren’t a Four.

    I’d recommend that you take this down and start over fresh. Now I’m curious to see if the rest of your type interviews are as off-base as this one. Really, you should kind of be ashamed of yourself for pedaling this.

    P.S. This isn’t the fucking zodiac. It’s not like type Ones are always the type Four’s worst enemy. The same goes for every other type. There are no types that one type is more or less likely to get along with. There are so many other variables in the enneagram (Wings, levels of health, which point you are disintegrating and/or integrating into, the three temperaments, etc.) that add up to determining who a person is likely to get along with.

    As a healthy Four with strong Five wing, self-preservation primary and social secondary (4w5 sp/so), I tend to get along very well with Ones, Fives, Eights, and Nines, and the types that I most commonly have tumultuous relationships with are Twos and Sixes (Don’t know very many Sevens, though I’m not super fond of the one that I know, and I don’t know any Threes, but the unhealthy 4w3s I know are insufferable), though I would say that level of health is the most important factor in determining if some one is easy to get along with.

  3. FriendlyNeighborhoodTypeFour said:

    Just read all of your type interviews. You’re only featuring types at their unhealthiest levels, which, on one hand, makes sense because it’s easier to identify types at their unhealthiest because they’re clinging on so tightly to their egos. But it’s just an enormously erroneous way to depict the enneagram types. You aren’t showing both sides of the coin here. I get that you’re trying to wrap up the types into neat little packages, highlighting their most obvious attributes, but it’s exaggerated to the point of being incredibly misguided.

    Also, types don’t just naturally get along with their wings. The whole “Who do you like/Who do you dislike” sections of these are completely wrong.

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