A while back, maybe a year and a half ago, I had a conversation with Beth McCord, an Enneagram Coach, because I wanted to know for sure that I was a 9. I was pretty sure, well, almost completely sure, but I was having a hard time taking that definitive step and saying yes, that’s my number, because I didn’t want to be wrong.
During our conversation, she used an example to describe an Enneagram 9 as Julia Roberts’ character in Runaway Bride who, every time the reporter asked an ex-fiance how she liked her eggs, it was exactly like his.
In the end, she tries all different kinds of eggs and settles on what type of eggs she likes best, not the type of eggs that she thinks she should like best because it’s what someone else likes.
I’ve spent a lot of time liking other people’s eggs.
In Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly, which I read more quickly than any other book in a long time, she writes about the difference between fitting in and belonging (see also her newest book, Braving the Wilderness):
“Fitting in and belonging are not the same thing. In fact, fitting in is one of the greatest barriers to belonging. Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be in order to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.”
When you’ve moved around as much as I have, belonging is a lot harder to come by and fitting in is–in the short run–is a lot easier.
- Go to a church where women aren’t allowed in leadership? Sure, I can find other ways to use my gifts.
- Live in a town where there are unwritten rules and expectations that aren’t to be questioned? Sure, I’ll just keep my thoughts to myself.
- Go to a Bible study that feels like it’s at the pre-kindergarten level? Sure, I’ll just read on my own. It’s all about meeting new people.
There are some advantages to adapting to other people; you can find common ground and you really will have something in common, and you don’t always have to get your own way in everything. The disadvantage is that it makes it difficult to differentiate yourself from others and to understand your own identity, and you can never really get too close to anyone to truly share what’s on your heart and mind, because the fear is that if they knew, they’d think less of you, you’d stop belonging, you’d be disconnected, you’d lose people, and you’d be lonely.
However, it’s more lonely to not be able to be yourself.
It’s also exhausting, because you have to spend a lot of energy wondering who and how you have to be based on other people’s expectations and standards instead of truly learning who you are.
This is a lot harder for women, I think, because we are often the primary caretakers of our homes and children, and so much of our energy is expended on other people, and various churches will see that as what we are primarily supposed to do. They even have moms groups for us where we can get out of the house and have adult conversation–about our kids. Have you ever found a church with a dads group that talks about changing diapers and sleepless kids? No? Think about that.
I have spent a lot of time in places where my identity is wrapped up in that of being a coach’s wife and a mom; there have been relatively few times in the last thirteen years where I haven’t met someone because of those two parts of my identity.
And so, I learned to adapt and take them on as my full identity, shoving the rest of me aside as necessary. Not all of the time, of course, but a good majority of it. It’s only been in the last two years that I’ve really started to feel more free to be who I am, and it’s often a daily struggle.
In a recent episode of the Typology podcast, author Marilyn Vancil spoke about being a Type 9 and the vague sense of self that comes along with that. She said:
“I didn’t even really know how I feel about anything. I don’t even know what I want. I don’t even know what I care about…I didn’t even know what my agenda was, let alone have it matter.”
It’s easier for us Type 9s to understand and know what we don’t like/want instead of what we do like and want, and so I’m now trying to figure that out for myself.
One thing I know for sure, though, is how I like my eggs:
- Cook 1 hash brown patty in a frying pan and break it apart.
- Add 1 egg and scramble it together.
- Mix in approximately 1-3 teaspoons of salsa, depending on how much you like it and how spicy it is. I prefer Mrs. Renfro’s Ghost Pepper Salsa.
- Top with a handful of shredded cheddar/taco/Mexican style cheese and mix in until melted.