I have some pretty big news today! My good friend Sarah Gittens has graciously agreed to contribute to my series on the Enneagram and she has shared below what it is like to be an Enneagram Nine!
Sarah was one of the first friends that I met at my church and she is without a doubt one of the sweetest, wisest, and most genuine souls you could ever care to meet. She is also low-key an expert on all things Enneagram—making her the perfect person to help me out with this series! So without further ado, here is Sarah’s post!
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What do you want?
I’m guessing the vast majority of you have an immediate response. 1) A latte to wake up. 2) A life partner to wake up with. 3) A raise or a new job. 4) A better phone or 5) A new pair of jeans that make your butt look good. 6) All of the above. I’m quite certain that most of you can answer, without hesitation, regardless of how you approach the question.
If you’re a nine, you most likely paused. You probably thought about what the person is really asking. Considered all possible answers and the various outcomes of those answers that would fall on the ears of anyone listening. You’ve wondered how vulnerable you can be or even want to be. You’ve wondered how it would make them feel? How they might respond? How will it impact this moment or future moments? You may even have an answer but instead:
*Responds to a question with a question
“I don’t really know.”
“I’m good with whatever.”
[insert whatever you think is safe to say]
As a nine, I am easy going, generally content, interested, happy to listen, patient, a day dreamer, accepting, a natural mediator, passionate, and I value others. I am also avoidant, people pleasing, procrastinating and have lived most of my life unaware of my inability to value one person: myself.
The truth? I DO know what I want. The problem? The answer has always been buried by a million thoughts of what you and you and you want. Does what you want clash with what I want? How would you feel? Would you feel insecure, happy for me, upset with me or jealous? How would you respond? Would you judge me, be kind or discard me? We know what we want.. but what we want has become lost or buried.
We have sometimes called the Nine the crown of the Enneagram because it is at the top of the symbol and because it seems to include the whole of it. Nines can have the strength of Eights, the sense of fun and adventure of Sevens, the dutifulness of Sixes, the intellectualism of Fives, the creativity of Fours, the attractiveness of Threes, the generosity of Twos, and the idealism of Ones. However, what they generally do not have is a sense of really inhabiting themselves—a strong sense of their own identity.
When I started reading the above paragraph, I loved it. When I hit the last sentence I hated it. I hated it because I knew it was true. When I went away to college, I realized I didn’t know myself and I spent the next several years trying to find who I was, what I liked, and why I liked it. I didn’t realize how often I stayed silent and when I did speak up I said things I heard rather than believed or felt. I was in there, but I had fallen asleep. I thought I had made so much progress and maybe in certain areas I had…
Awakening. This is how I would describe the time since I learned I was a nine in July of 2018. The enneagram reminded me that I matter and yes, I know I matter. I have grown up in church. I know Jesus loves me. I can quote Psalm 139. I can tell you with tremendous conviction that YOU matter, YOU are loved, and YOU are believed in. I know I matter but do I know? Do I believe it?
We will always be a work in progress, but asking myself what I want has been both liberating and terrifying. It has made me more vulnerable to the negative emotions that accompany disappointment, but has also been a catalyst for practicing genuine gratitude. My ability to reframe negative situations into positive emotions is a wonderful gift, but too often I settled for a facade of peace. I settled for the background [of my own life] even though I matter [as much as the next person] to receive love, be seen, and achieve success. Courage may look a bit different for everyone, but for me, it has been actively believing and praying for things I had let die, fade or been too afraid to want.
I don’t think I’ll ever possess the natural self confidence I admire in others. I used to want it. I tried to emulate it. However, I’ve noticed that my motivation has never been from a place of self confidence (because it never actually comes), but I will act from a place of conviction. In the midst of all this self reflection is a realization that I need to believe I matter and have value. A knowledge won’t suffice, rather I need that seed of truth to take root. It is in this truth, “I matter,” that this 9w1 day dreamer is free to hope again. Free from the weight of doing or being what others expect. Free to ask herself, “what do I want?”
To [me and] my fellow 9s: You can be happy even when others aren’t happy for you, because your happiness matters. You can be upset when you’re mistreated, because your feelings matter. You can speak up, because your thoughts, opinions and the many perspectives you effortlessly see all matter. You do not have to hide or diminish for the benefit of anyone else because your presence matters. Actually, we benefit when you don’t hide. We benefit when you speak up. We shine better when you shine. You are not selfish for wanting anything, because you matter. So tell us, what do you want?
If you know your Enneagram number, and would like to contribute a post for this series, please contact me at courtneymwhitaker@or shoot me a DM @authorcourtney1 on Instagram. I can’t wait to hear your stories