Creative, Perfectionist, Anxious: Negotiating those traits and the Enneagram

Recently I’ve discovered the Enneagram, and that’s a huge can of worms I don’t want to open just yet, but it’s got me introspective about my personality. What is hard-wired? What isn’t? Am I throttling my true self by not tuning into my creative side? What is caused by my mental illness and what is just the realities of life?

At this point I’m no where near being an expert, but the number types do give me a helpful way to talk about the identity struggle (I’m hesitant to call it a crisis just yet) I’m currently wrestling with.

Exploring an inner coversation

What I’ve been thinking about really intensely is what feels like the conversation between two types, one and four. Since I first discovered the system, and through all of the tests I’ve found to do, I’ve been a four. And your type does not change throughout your lifetime – it’s something you come to know through self-exploration. For some, it takes very little time, and for others, an eternity. Although most metrics sit me as a four, I also identify very strongly with type one. The most interesting part of this dichotomy is that type one is the type that fours tend to lean toward when they are unhealthy.

Ones and fours: Principled and creative

Essentially, a four (The Individualist) is a creative, and a one (The Reformer) is a perfectionist. Being a creative has been at the core of my identity for as long as I can remember. However, in recent years, it’s also a part of my identity that I’ve felt quite disconnected from. I could attribute this to any number of reasons, and probably will in a later post. But in my journey of discovering whether I am a one or a four, I’ve found myself looking inward. I’m also looking back. I think that for a person with a largely idyllic young childhood, I think it’s easiest to reflect on the essence of who I am as an individual by looking at that time. It was a time before things like rent, living circumstances, work, school, and relationship conflict changed how I tackled life.

The creative as a child

Early in my life, when life was not something to be battled with, I turned to creative endeavours with all of the free time I could grasp. Markers, pencil crayons, paint, paper, pens, pencils, glue, glitter, cardboard, felt… my dream jobs were cartoonist, architect, and interior designer. The biggest fissure between my creative life and the life I live now came in university. This was when I rejected art as a career (another story for another day). Retrospectively, looking at my creative instincts in childhood and adolescence make me believe that at my core, I am a four.

The island of unfinished creative projects

There is one other trait that as I four I am currently identifying with very intensely. It was also a quintessential part of my childhood. Intense, regular formulation of new, exciting ideas, with very little follow-through. The number of creative projects I have begun with gusto and never finished throughout my life is unfathomable. I’m in one of those creative phases right now and it’s impossibly frustrating. I’m working full-time, 7-3. Four days a week, I drive straight to UBC for class, getting home around 8pm. On the weekends I spend all my spare time doing readings, marking, and writing assignments. So all of those creative ideas, at their best, get written down and “saved for later.”

But when is later?

That’s when the anxiety perfectionism comes in. I currently have two new instagram accounts and plenty of ideas. My bullet journal is full of lists on lists on lists. I have ideas by the bushel. But even if I had the time to follow through on any of them, would I?

The perfect time

I get caught up in “waiting for the perfect time.” But I’ve come across some media recently (thanks @selfcaresunday) that’s been focusing on the idea that there’s no perfect time for anything. There’s just time and what we do with it.

I think that my anxiety and perfectionism keep me from really letting myself be my true four self. They push me into the unhealthy side of four. This magnifies the negative tendencies of ones to be too hard on themselves and others.

Whether you subscribe to the Enneagram typing system or not, it’s an interesting concept to think about. And I think the result of it at this point for me is that regardless of my true type (I’ll keep ruminating on that), I want to make an effort to just do the thing. Part of that is typing up this blog post in about an hour, editing very minimally, and just posting it. Normally a blog post is a slow, painstaking process for me. I iterate and edit, iterate and edit, and post and edit and repost. From idea to publish button, this one has taken less than an hour.

Where is the creative going from here?

Part of doing the thing, for me, is going to be exploding the the month-long “creative ideas” list I’ve been carrying around with me in a drawer in my brain. I’ll blast it all out onto some paper. Maybe in coloured marker.

Another part will be choosing one of those ideas and taking concrete steps toward manifesting it into being every day. Even if it’s just five minutes.

There are a thousand reasons why this is “not the perfect time.”

To that I say: there is no perfect time. But this is what my soul needs to do.

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Becca

A Vancouverite that grew up in the Maritimes, I'm a married, millennial, rugby-playing, PNW-exploring high school teacher who loves reading, art, and nature. And I have generalized anxiety disorder.

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