Apparently, I'm a 9.
What does this mean? And how do I know I'm a 9? Well, to answer the last question first, I took a simple self-assessment for a professional development workshop. The focus of the workshop was how to identify your personality type and what this means for you in the workplace. And while self-discovery is always fun (or terrifying), it was a lot of fun to guess where my coworkers would fall in the Enneagram, too.
But, back to me. I'm a 9. This type is often known as the Mediator or Peacemaker. Here's what one website as to say about this personality type:
Type Nine in Brief
Nines are accepting, trusting, and stable. They are usually creative, optimistic, and supportive, but can also be too willing to go along with others to keep the peace. They want everything to go smoothly and be without conflict, but they can also tend to be complacent, simplifying problems and minimizing anything upsetting. They typically have problems with inertia and stubbornness. At their Best: indomitable and all-embracing, they are able to bring people together and heal conflicts.
- Basic Fear: Of loss and separation
- Basic Desire: To have inner stability "peace of mind"
- Enneagram Nine with an Eight-Wing: "The Referee"
- Enneagram Nine with a One-Wing: "The Dreamer"
Key Motivations: Want to create harmony in their environment, to avoid conflicts and tension, to preserve things as they are, to resist whatever would upset or disturb them.
"To compensate for being out of touch with their instinctual energies, Nines also retreat into their minds and their emotional fantasies."
"Furthermore, when their instinctive energies are out of balance, Nines use these very energies against themselves, damming up their own power so that everything in their psyches becomes static and inert."
"More than any other type, Nines demonstrate the tendency to run away from the paradoxes and tensions of life by attempting to transcend them or be seeking find simple and painless solutions to their problems."
Taken from http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/typenine.asp
I bet this is way more information than you wanted or cared to know about my Type. But stick with me for another minute or two! I really have a purpose in sharing this info with you, especially if you're a writer.
As I thought about the character attributes and the fundamental fears associated with each type, I realized the Enneagram could be an awesome tool for character-building. It provides key characteristics- both positive and negative - that can be used as a jumping board for enriching a character's, well, character.
Acting on this thought, I went in search of a free online Enneagram test. Then, posing as my main character, I took the test again. Answering the questions forced me to put myself into the character's point-of-view. Yet, I didn't allow msyelf to over-think the answers.
When I got the results back, my MC was a Type 6: The Loyalist. Reading through the description, acknowledging the fundamental fear and desire, allowed me to ask and answer the question "Why?". Why is her basic fear that of being without support or guidance? (Especially when I expected her basic fear to focus on matters of self-worth and self-identity?) Why is she so desperate to achieve a sense of security and support, especially when from the outside looking in, she should appear to have both in spades?
These questions and others like them helped me revamp my character's profile. It's given me insight into her childhood (after all, these feelings must originate from somewhere!) and provided a means of developing even stronger personal stakes for her. Knowing her deepest, most elemental desires, I can now exploit them. Same with her fears.
And I haven't even taken into account how her wing, her disintegration or growth patterns can effect her overall character development. I'm still scratching the surface. This leaves me feeling pretty confident that by exploring her psychological development - and consequent backstory - that I'll have a more well-developed character, one that readers will find engaging and real.