So I was out to lunch with a few friends of mine this past weekend and between talking about movies and catching up, they kept talking in this little code.
“She is such a 4 with a 3 wing.” “Really? But she has such strong 2 qualities to me!”
These two friends live together so maybe it was some sort of roommate language. But after enough of this they revealed that they have become enamored with this way of categorizing types of personalities called the Enneagram of Personality. It is a system that categorizes people into 9 types and then lays out how they interact with each other. But it’s a little more sophisticated because you can lean towards other personalities and each type has “stress” and “security” numbers, which are personalities that we take on when we are particularly comfortable or overwhelmed.
Now I really like personality quizzes, but Ryan and Jo are not the sort of people to buy into that sort of thing. They both delight in the complexities of humanity and hate being boxed into certain types themselves, so what makes this system so compelling to them is that it is really tool for understanding people’s tendencies. Then when someone acts in a way that is mysterious to them, they can think about it from a perspective other than their own.
Jo made an interesting point, though, that personality tendencies are often affected by society’s construction of gender. So a male 3 may act in a different way than a female 3 because of the societal norms of men versus women, which may have a greater or lesser affect on the whole system. Fascinating to think about, right? Where do we really get our own personality traits? How much of it is really us?