Numbers are my latest fascination.
Not math numbers — which were out to get me from day one and ran me straight into the arms of grammar and literature — but enneagram numbers.
The enneagram is a personality typing system that assigns individuals one of nine numbers based on their characteristics, including behavior and motivations. The modern enneagram, which has roots in several ancient traditions, dates to the 1960s, but it has recently made a resurgence.
There are a variety of free online tests that will help you determine your enneagram number; just Google it. However, I could have simply read descriptions of the nine types — and stopped after the first — to figure out I’m Type 1.
"The Reformer. The rational, idealistic type: principled, purposeful, self-controlled, perfectionistic."
At their best, Type 1s "wish to be rational, reasonable, self-disciplined, mature, moderate in all things. … Extremely principled, (they) always want to be fair, objective and ethical: Truth and justice (are) primary values."
Some notable Type 1s were Confucius, Joan of Arc, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.
Sounds great, right? Just wait.
Type 1s also include Osama bin Laden, Dr. Jack Kevorkian and Saturday Night Live’s "The Church Lady."
Well, isn’t that SPEC-ial?
Skewing toward unhealthy levels, 1s can be "highly critical both of self and others: picky, judgmental, perfectionistic. Very opinionated about everything: correcting people and badgering them to ‘do the right thing’ — as they see it. Impatient, never satisfied with anything unless it is done according to their prescriptions. Moralizing, scolding, abrasive and indignantly angry."
Now, wait a minute. I would never …
Oh, I see what they did there.
What I like most about the enneagram is that it doesn’t just label you and leave you to figure out the rest. It identifies your type’s healthy and unhealthy behaviors and makes recommendations for personal growth. One of mine says, "Learn to relax. Take some time for yourself, without feeling that everything is up to you or that what you do not accomplish will result in chaos and disaster."
This time of year, I should post that advice on every surface of my home and tattoo it on my body.
If I’m not careful, this Type 1 taskmaster will sprint from one shopping trip and activity to another, all in the name of creating a "memorable Christmas season" for my family. (I might know from experience.)
But in my mad dash and holi-daze, I will have missed the point: slowing down and being fully present with the ones I love.
Sometimes it takes an online test to remind you to pass the test that really matters.
Enneagram, you’ve got my number.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays.