Thursday, August 18, 2011

Enneagram type 4; and college choices

I have mentioned my discovery of the Enneagram, a personality profiler, if you will ... similar to a zodiac or horoscope. Back in January, I went with my friend Karen to an Enneagram workshop. At the time, I thought hmmm ... not for me! But I continued to pursue it, thinking that I might be missing something important otherwise. The work paid off. A few months ago, I discovered that I was a type 4 (of 9 possibilities), and this was something of a revelation to me.

Type four personalities are "the need to be unique" or "special." Thus, the first surprise was for me to discover that there were other people out there who saw the world in a similar way to me! I still hold to the view that every human being is unique. But apparently, we are not so distinct that we can't be grouped together into common types that do describe certain qualities amazingly well.

One of the hallmarks of a type four is disavowing labels, insisting on not belonging to any stereotypical group at all. I have always approached life from the perspective of the outsider. I was the outsider throughout school, and I remain an independent outsider from religion and politics, among other things. I thought this was somewhat unique to me, because I changed schools and moved so often, so it was only natural that I would never be part of the "inside" group.

Being on the outside shaped my whole personality, so that I strongly identify with minority groups, the oppressed, underdogs everywhere. If I am a member of any group, I am one of these. It is strange to look at me, a white upper-class American, and imagine that I could support the rights of the people who are the most despised by others. It's because they are my brothers and sisters, so much more than people who are in positions of power.

I also strongly advocate diversity, starting in my own family. This has been quite difficult to practice, because I do have the human tendency to want to influence others, especially those I love. I certainly do give my share of nudges, but I insist on the right of every person to have their own (well thought out) opinion and viewpoint, even when I heartily disagree with it.

I feel a lot of conflicting emotions at the thought of Austin wanting to attend A&M University and join the Corps and the Aggie band. Gee, maybe it would be good if A&M is no longer part of the Big 12, because it would be awkward to have a big Longhorn fan (my hubby) and big Aggie fan at a UT-A&M game! Which side of the stands would we sit in, for instance? Aack!

I am glad Austin is thinking of going somewhere that is not a big party place -- or shall I say, not the biggest party place in Texas, which would have to be located in the city of his namesake? Because he certainly could get hooked on partying! But will A&M be a diverse place where he can meet all kinds of people? Do people in the Corps have a sense of humor, and do they ever question authority, or just blindly obey it? Double aack!

On the other hand (like Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof) ... I think Austin will thrive in an atmosphere of discipline, and maybe he recognizes that he needs that. He says he wants to get into shape! You know I would support that wholeheartedly.

The hardest thing for a parent to do is to get on board with qualities of their child that are totally alien to them, and figure out how to love all that anyhow. I think the best thing Dwaine and I can do for our children is to give them our blessing. This is a way of saying that we may not have chosen all the same things our children will for themselves, but it's been a great pleasure and honor having them as part of our family, and we love and support them as they make their way inexorably to adulthood.

Ooops, I wonder if it is a quality of type fours to digress. One thing I certainly embrace is that we type fours know how to feel emotions. Deeply! And we are often wonderfully creative as a result. Yeah, sometimes amazingly depressed and suicidal as well. But let me tell you about how exercise can save your life in that regard!
Tapping into the well of human emotion is deep and powerful, and an amazing gift. To me, it makes life worth living. And I guess worth dying for, too.

Speaking of emotion, I am pumped at having the chance to help out kids at Floresville High School polish up their college application essays (by email). I recently emailed one of the English teachers there, who graciously allowed me to come volunteer a couple of days in May to get juniors started drafting their essays, with this offer -- and she said all the senior English teachers were interested! I actually love writing and editing and don't get to do much of either one these days, and I've really enjoyed helping Austin make his essays better (even if he hasn't). If it helps someone get into college or get a scholarship, that would be amazing.

1 comment:

  1. I bet I'm a 4 and you can volunteer your editing skills over here any time! I have two sucky books for you to work on! Because I use words like sucky! And too many exclamation points!!


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