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In 2nd grade we carved bars of soap into different shapes as we were studying some long forgotten curriculum topic. I carved mine into an angel which then sat on a bathroom shelf for years until my brother ripped its head off. I remember working so hard, with my father’s help I’m sure, to perfectly execute the requirements of the project. I remember in 3rd grade doing a project on Native American dwellings and working intently on creating perfect igloos with Styrofoam balls, again with my father’s help, and spending far to long distributing snow until I thought it was impeccably in balance. In my 11th grade Psychology class I remember having a project where we had to write or draw our feelings and thoughts for the day in a journal. Most people jotted a few lines down before returning to the latest classroom gossip. I decided to give my teacher a collage of creativity that would impress the heck out of her! (Side note: I felt so “fulfilled” by that project that I never stopped. Seventeen years and five journals later I still create collages of creative thought though not nearly as often as I would like!)
Why do I remember these projects that are decades old? Why did I worry myself to the point of vomiting if I thought my efforts might disappoint? Why was/am I so concerned with what others think and feel about me?
Hi! I’m Bailey and I’m a 2 with a 1 wing. If you have no clue what that means, then you have probably never looked at Enneagrams. I took an Enneagram quiz ages ago so I’ve known I was a two for a while but I never researched what effect that had on my life and reaction to the world around me until recently.
Actually, it was on a girls’ weekend getaway having one of those great late night chat sessions where everything comes up and vulnerability doesn’t seem as frightening because you’re deliriously tired, that we started discussing relationships and what we felt our shortcomings were currently. During the course of our discussion one of my friends brought up a book she had been reading about how our Enneagram number could have an effect on our relationships, workplaces, anxieties, spirituality and more. I excitedly told her I was a two not knowing what a can of worms that would open up.
Now, if this all seems like a bunch of hooey to you please bear with me. Enneagrams have been around for ages and have had brilliant minds expound upon their merits in understanding how you see the world on numerous occasions. In fact, I would have been a little skeptical myself if it weren’t for two things.
First, the friend that was presenting this information to me is a brilliant and logical thinker. If she says it’s worth listening too you can guarantee she’s done the research. She’s a five and that is summed up in the previous sentence. I trust her judgment because I know she didn’t pick this up on a whim.
Second, being the good little five that she is, she immediately pulled up a list of character traits for twos and started rattling them off and let me tell you it went really quick from, “Wow, that’s spot on!” to “Ouch! You’re stepping on my toes!!!” Part of me was relieved that other people thought like me but it also concerned me that I was obviously not as great at hiding my shortcomings as I thought.
Back to my childhood projects, so what do they have to do with me being a 2 with a 1 wing? Well, twos are considered helpers but beyond that they are people pleasers at their core. They don’t want to disappoint others and often rely on making others happy to find their personal validation. In my little child mind if I could complete all my school work with perfection and make my teachers and parents proud then they would love me. I was always the smart, hardworking, dependable child because I knew that’s what made those around me happy. It never occurred to me to sneak out of my house as a teenager because doing so would disappoint my parents and that is something I could not bear. Add to my two-ness my one wing and you go from people pleasing mode to perfectionism while you please them real fast.
I LOVE hosting events but I am a nightmare to work with if you don’t know my methods, sometimes even if you do. God bless my sorority sisters for putting up with my insanity! I would drag some helpless pledge with me on a late night trip to find the right shade of pink tablecloth because the original tablecloth had too much of a blue undertone and that just wouldn’t do! I realize that NOBODY cared if the tablecloth was pink much less the shade of pink I wanted but I would make myself sick over the details. I just knew that if I didn’t present perfection in my events or school work or makeup or clothes then someone would jump out of the bushes and pounce on me for all my failures. Also, I found it real hard to imagine all the work it would take to earn back respect and love if I disappointed those around me.
The perfectionism of my wing also throws gasoline on the fire of a two who already doesn’t want to feel vulnerable. In his book, “The Road Back to You”, author Ian Morgan Cron states that, “Twos have long been afraid that people will reject them once they discover the Twos have needs and unattended sorrows of their own.” This has such a huge impact on all areas of your life but let’s think of this in the dating realm alone…
Overly critical inner evaluations of your personal appearance. If your hair, makeup, clothes and stance aren’t perfect, he’ll move on to someone who is. The endless cycle of “self-help” gurus that will help take your love life to the “next level”. Only to have you floundering in real life trying to remember if you were supposed to look at said man for three seconds, look away and smile or did the smile come first and you look away for four seconds? And remember don’t wear those favorite heels because they make you two inches taller than him and men don’t want to date an Amazon and don’t cut your hair into a bob because it makes you look too aggressive and unapproachable! Whew! It’s exhausting!
Praise the Lord for girlfriends because it wasn’t until that girls’ getaway a few weeks ago that I realized how loud my inner critic was screaming. As my 5 friend was describing my 2 state I kept trying to explain why my way of thinking was the most logical and safe option. I gave similar examples to the above and explained how if I could plan and control (i.e. perfect) what was going on then I had a better chance that people would like me but by the end another friend made the comment that what I was saying made her sad for me. This really shocked me because up until that moment I figured she was onboard with my assessment because she was a two as well. (Thus why understanding all the influences of your Enneagram is essential.) It never occurred to me that the average person doesn’t have this checklist of perfection going off in their head every day. (It also explains why I get funny looks for wearing extensions and a full face of make up to the gym but I digress…)
Over the course of the next few days I realized that my people pleasing perfection and control had not protected me from life but had frozen me in fear. I felt like Elsa…conceal, don’t feel! The truth hurt but it was eye opening and some what freeing to know that I wasn’t the only one who was a jumbled 2w1. And while I didn’t have the answers, at least I now knew the problem. This is why I went and bought Mr. Cron’s book and read it in two days because I needed to understand this new world around me. This is also why I’m sharing with you far more than I am comfortable with in the hopes that you will see the benefit of working to better understand yourself and the true purpose the Lord has laid out before you.
Don’t misunderstand me. Knowing your Enneagram without actually working to become a healthy version of your number is about as useful as knowing Tylenol is made with Acetaminophen when you have a headache but not actually taking the pill. Every number has positives and negatives but understanding how and why you think the way you do and how those around you think is truly remarkable and well worth discovering.
If this is something that interest you, I will be reviewing Cron’s book as part of my New Year, New Books series.
The Road Back to You (Amazon)