Life as an Enneagram One

I typed “enneagram one” into google and this is learned that the names are both “the perfectionist” and “the reformer”. I find the last one to be a little too optimistic, but I appreciate the effort.

The truth is that, as confidently as I know that I’m an enneagram one, I don’t know anything about any of the other types. “I never had to learn past the first one,” I tell people. I know that in a perfect world, I would research all of the types and make a decision about which one best described me, but it’s not a perfect world and I currently don’t have time to research all of the types. I took a test, twice, it told me that I am a type one, and I accept that.

Yesterday, I took something called the “faith test” that, essentially, surveyed my view of God. My answers were riddled with habits of living in shame, a performance based view of myself, a personal expectation to be perfect. You could see my issues with giving up control, with trusting God, with believing that His promises are true. One question read, “God surprises me when…” and I wrote “He isn’t mad at or ashamed of me.” because the truth is, being an enneagram one, that’s what it all comes down to: a belief that I have to be perfect. And, deeper than that, a belief that everyone else, most of all God, expects me to be perfect, too.

The enneagram institute obviously has a lot to say about type ones. Their website says that, at my best, I am, “wise, discerning, realistic, and noble.” I’ll admit that I’ve never been called noble, but the other adjectives have been applied to me more than once. It says that my biggest fear is being corrupt/evil, defective. My basic desire is to be good, to have integrity, to be balanced. And, where it really hits home is in revealing my key motivation to be wanting to be right, striving high and trying to improve everything, to be consistent with my ideals, to justify myself, and to be beyond criticism so not to be condemned by anyone. It’s normal for one’s to be described as emotionless, and, really, that’s all we need to say about that.

And, well, that’s all you need to know about me.

I want to make everything better. This goes back to the question my therapist asks me again and again, wondering why I’m so damn hard on myself. The answer is found in my personality type-- in the fact that I can always, find something in myself, in everyone, in everything, that can be improved. Even if I do my best, I know that I can do better. If if something works well, I believe that it can work better.

There’s a deep part of me that values truth and goodness. The enneagram institute calls it striving for “higher values” but to me, it’s just goodness. I want practical, simple, justice in all circumstances. I want people to do what is right, what is just, what, to me, has always felt like common sense. That’s why I was the way I was in high school; never partying, never dating, to lie to my dad, to break any rules given to me. Truth and justice are a part of who I am, to the core, and it’s so incredibly important to me that I live up to it.

I want to be perfect. I want to uphold justice and goodness.

It’s just as exhausting as it sounds.

Upon this reading, I’ve learned that the following people are also enneagram ones: Plato, Joan of Arc, Ghandi, Michelle Obama, Kate Middleton, Maggie Smith, Meryl Streep, Julie Andrews, Hilary Clinton, Sandra Day O’Connor, Noam Chomsky, and Tina Fey.

No pressure, huh? (Also: we’re going to ignore the fact that Osama bin Laden was also on that list.)

The reality is that I love the way I am. I’m so thankful that God wired me to be a perfectionist, to be self motivated, and to work hard. I’m glad that goodness is a part of who I am, that I’m more concerned about justice than anything else. Yes, this means that anger is my default emotion and that I am harder on myself than is ever necessary. But, by the grace of God, I can be freed from that familiar bondage. I feel like a badass most days, I feel able and strong and motivated. I get angry in traffic, I don’t work well in groups, and I will never, ever be satisfied with my performance in anything. I am a perfectionist, a reformer, a fighter, and a badass. I am an enneagram one, but that fact, those characteristics, the strengths and the weaknesses, don’t define me-- they solely describe me.

Ashton Ray