After much deliberation, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a type 6, wing 7 enneagram type. I know the popularity is dying down, but I tend to get to things a bit late.
Anyway, here’s my experience.
I tell you, my brain is a mess. Always. Constantly. I overthink everything and think of all the possible scenarios, both good and bad (mostly bad) for how my human interactions will go.
When I was little, I’d have literal anxiety attacks if I was far from home or if there was an ambiguous social situation. After experiencing job layoffs and multiple disappointments in life, work and love, I put a name to the overwhelming thoughts that constantly bombarded me from a young age: anxiety.
Now, I don’t know. Maybe it’s a 6 thing?
I’m not saying clinical anxiety and being type 6 are the same thing. Not at all. But perhaps I’ve misunderstood my long-term, exhausting worrying.
I think at times I was really experiencing a very real, psychological imbalance. But in my better periods, I think it’s a personality thing.
I first heard about the enneagram test when I was in Korea. So, I took the test and got equal parts 2, 6 and 9. Great, I thought. Now I have to actually read all these things. I read the type 6 and felt pangs of recognition. I denied it. The descriptions I read talked about 6’s like anxiety machines that are only good for worrying and being over-prepared and whiny.
But then, I listened to Annie F. Downs’ podcast, That Sounds Fun. She’s been conducting a breakdown and interview series about the different types. I listened to the type 6 episode and had to face the facts. Her interviewees were making a lot of sense to me.
Just to preface, I think the healthiest way to use the enneagram is as a guideline for understanding more about yourself. It’s not a method of fortune telling or a way to know if that girl or guy you like is a good match for you. Anyway…
As a type 6, wing 7 (I think), here are the signs I see about myself that confirm:
1. I worry. A lot.
I really do. I think of every scenario. Usually in social situations, I’ll daydream about conversations that will never actually happen because I want to be prepared or so I can test out my reactions (I do this subconsciously).
Before I have an interview or gathering or event, I like to know exactly what will happen. What’s the usual process, who will be there, what do I need to know before it happens so I can do exactly what I need to do.
2. I’m incredibly observant.
I hate that I’ve never known what it’s like to truly relax, but at the same time, I feel very open to the world around me. Observant of people and things that could hurt me, yes, but also very aware of beauty and the situations behind things.
I used to be a part of my university’s theater, both on and off stage. It was awesome! I loved seeing behind the curtain and knowing exactly what was going on in every corner of the theater building.
In life, it’s the same. While it’s a burden to be aware of everything all the time, I see all the things happening around me. I don’t mean I’m like Sherlock. I can be pretty dense. But among my friends, I tend to know when people are being disingenuous and when someone is hurting and why this one person is acting this way. I know what’s going on.
3. I live with crippling indecision
Ok, that sounds super dramatic, but sometimes it feels that way. This is very much connected to worrying and seeing all the angles of things.
But I think for me the biggest way this manifests itself is in how I am the middle of the road in everything. Because I see the angles and the corners of issues, I can see the validity in both sides, or at least understand why someone thinks the way they do, even if I think it’s wrong.
So it’s hard for me to take a firm stance on many things. This makes me a good listener and a decent judge of situations, although I don’t tend to trust my judgement. That’s a different point.
So the good: I feel, again, very open to the world because I see the gray in life. The bad: I often feel like I don’t belong anywhere (I thought I was a 4 for awhile) or like I lack conviction.
4. I struggle with serious doubts
I have a lot of doubts about my faith, and I don’t think they’re going to go away. But at the same time, I’ve learned to be comfortable with them. Because of a huge world-view-toppling period in my life that started in college and reached its peak while I was working in New York City years later, I’ve learned that faith isn’t an emotion and it’s not about feeling that I really believe it.
I see faith as a choice. So any doubts that come my way I know I can deal with because I have made the decision to follow Christ. I think that’s the life worth living.
5. Instability and uncertainty scare the pants off me
I live with a lot of fear. I’m used to it, and I’m used to pushing past it if the result is worth it because I know the fear isn’t reality. It’s just my fear.
Sometimes knowing it’s just fear doesn’t help, because my experience tells me the fear may be a real possible thing (for example, relationships and dating).
This often manifests itself in the jobs or projects I put myself into. I considered moving to California to pursue screenwriting after graduating college, but I chickened out. Honestly, I’m glad I did, but it’s a good example of not doing something because I need a tether to something solid.
I also almost went to teach English in China after I graduated. I was very very close. I had agreed to a position but hadn’t signed the contract. I chickened out. It ended up being good because I got into journalism, which has been a huge impact on my life, even if I didn’t stay in the field.
But working and living abroad definitely was in my future. Years later, I’m halfway through my second year teaching English in South Korea.
So the fear of instability isn’t always bad. I just have to make sure I’m using my brain and connecting with God and seeking counsel about the fears and the possibilities before I make decisions.
6. I’m a verbal processor
I’ve heard that 6 types have an internal committee, one that causes all the indecision by presenting all the possibilities. Because of this committee, 6’s often have to go outside themselves for advice and decisions because they don’t trust themselves.
I don’t think this is bad in moderation. The Bible calls for us to seek wise counsel (after and while seeking God’s counsel first). But it does mean I tend to talk to a lot of different people about what I’m thinking about and big decisions I have to make or am considering making. This can make me feel needy and vulnerable, but I can’t help myself.
Everything is about balance, so that’s what I’m seeking now.
7. I have good instincts about people but…
I don’t listen to those instincts. Because I don’t trust my judgement (that whole internal committee thing), I often don’t listen to myself when I feel good or bad about someone or think someone is experiencing a certain emotion or situation.
It does make me cautious about trusting people, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some boundaries are healthy. The problem is actually knowing the difference between healthy boundaries and unhealthy walls, then implementing them successfully in your life.
In Korean, there’s a term called nunchi (눈치), which literally translates to “sense” or “sensitivity” in English. It’s basically a person’s ability to read a room, situation, person or mood. I think 6’s are good at this. Like really good.
In Korean culture, nunchi plays a very particular role in community. Every person, regardless of culture, has a certain level of nunchi (either good or bad).
So there you have it! These are my “reasons I finally fessed up to being a 6.” Keep in mind, this is just my experience. It might not fit everyone’s. And this is because everyone is different! Regardless of enneagram types or MBTI types or whatever personality descriptor is popular. They can never fully describe you, as a complicated and unique creation of a complicated and creative God.
If you’re curious about your enneagram type, you can take a free quiz here! However, I definitely recommend reading around about the different types to see which one sounds most like you.
Future me edits: After writing this whole rant, I listened to another podcast and decided that, hey, maybe I’m not a six, maybe I’m a nine. Nines go to six in stress, which is definitely me. When I’m stable, I’m much more chill. It doesn’t really matter in the long-run, but after all this, I changed my mind. Go figure.
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