How The Enneagram Sparked My Journey To Self-Awareness

How The Enneagram Sparked My Journey To Self-Awareness

2019 is all about your existential journey and how you cultivate relationships with others around you.


For those who haven't heard of the Enneagram, it is a subtle, yet complex, system that categorizes each of the nine basic personality types by a designated number:

1 - The Reformer

2 - The Helper

3 - The Achiever

4 - The Individualist

5 - The Investigator

6 - The Loyalist

7 - The Enthusiast

8 - The Challenger

9 - The Peacemaker

Each personality type is described by four keywords. Now, this is where the Enneagram can get a little confusing. The Enneagram is a 3x3 arrangement, which means the nine personality types are divided into three Centers, the Instinctive Center, the Feeling Center, and the Thinking Center. Each Center contains three personality types that display assets and qualities of the Center in which it is located. Check out this graphic for a visual:

The Enneagram divided into personality types and CentersThe Enneagram Institute

It gets a little more in-depth from here. According to the Enneagram system, no one consists of one personality type. Typically, you are one basic personality type and one of the types adjacent on the Enneagram circumference. This is known as a "wing." For example, I am a 9w1. My basic personality type is 9, The Peacemaker, but I have tendencies of a type 1, The Reformer. Within each type, there are Levels of Development and Directions of Growth and Stress.

Although the Enneagram seems very complex, once you read through it a time or two, you understand it pretty thoroughly. There are books, podcasts, social media sites, and The Enneagram Institute website to utilize for your own personal research and self-awareness journey.

My interest was piqued when a friend of mine asked me, "What is your Enneagram number?" one day while we were at work. I told her that I took the online test and it calculated that I was a Type 2 (The Helper) which did not seem right to me. She then explained how the online test isn't completely accurate and that the best way to determine your Enneagram was to research and sort of figure it out on your own. I mentioned I did a brief reading through each of the types and kind of thought I would be a Type 9, The Peacemaker. My friend, who is a fellow Type 9, agreed with my opinion and began to inform me of every aspect of the Enneagram.

From there, I developed an intrigue and did lots of extensive research before finalizing that I am a 9w1 on the Enneagram. Researching and self-reflecting were tedious at times. We don't always like to come to terms with our flaws and shortcomings, which are both listed for each personality type. In the end, though, I swallowed my pride and devoted my time to become more self-aware.

It is important to research and know your strengths and weaknesses so you can channel those toward self-improvement. For instance, I had no idea my indifferent mentality on things (i.e. what restaurant to go to for dinner) stemmed from my desire for peace among everyone until I read about it through the Enneagram. Once I knew and understood that I realized it is true; I want to make sure everyone is happy which means sometimes I put other's needs above my own. This process occurred for me across several aspects of my personality, and it will for you as well, if you choose to embark on an Enneagram journey.

In my opinion, the Enneagram is the most accurate personality construct because it allows you to research, learn, and grow, instead of populating a response to a series of questions. If you put in the time and have the right mindset to research your Enneagram, I promise you will reap the benefits and become more aware of yourself and your interactions with others.

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Why An Athlete Is Not Defined By Their Level

Pressure can drive athletes crazy.

With tryout season among us, it is so important that this be addressed before the teams for this upcoming year are formed. So many athletes that tryout, don't make the team they want and either quit to "take a year off" or jump ship to a gym that promises them to place the athlete on a higher level. I know that every athlete wants to be on level 5 team, the division is the most prestigious of all of them, especially because going to worlds is the end game for most athletes. The problem these days in the cheerleading world, is that our athletes are trying to level up at a rate that is just not quite realistic. If an athlete is on a level 1 team the chances of her being on level 4 next year is slim. It is necessary for athletes to experience each level for at least a year to learn all of the fundamentals of the level and build on them for their foundation as an athlete to be more concrete. This produces the best athlete possible.

A lot of athletes think that all that they need to jump levels is tumbling and that is just not the case. When teams are formed, coaches take a look at many different things, these qualities include but are not limited to: mental toughness, dedication, tumbling, stunting abilities, pace of learning, dance and attitude. Contrary to popular belief, there are so many factors that go into forming a team. This team not only has to be suitable for individual athletes but putting a team together is like a puzzle and as coaches we have to put a team together that will work well and have all the necessary percentages of skills to be competitive in their division.

We are concerned about building well-rounded athletes, not an athlete that is only capable in one facet of cheerleading. Some athletes are great level 4 tumblers, but have level 2 stunt ability and those two will not equal a level 4 athlete until we boost the stunting ability of said athlete. Putting an athlete on a team to just tumble is doing a disservice to not just the team, but also the athletes themselves. If this athlete joins a level 4 team to just tumble all year, when their tumbling progresses to that of a level 5 athlete, they will still have level 2 stunting skills and won't be put to good use when they are level 5 eligible. A well-rounded athlete is the kind of athlete that wins worlds.

SEE ALSO: To The Coach That Took My Confidence Away

When athletes take their time and learn their level, they are not just learning completely new skills each year, but building on them. If done correctly, each year an athlete should improve on all points of cheerleading and not just one. The rules in each level lead to progressions for the level that it directly follows, so that athletes can safely learn skills by going up the ladder one step at a time. What most don't realize is that skipping steps is such an unnecessary practice. If Susie stays on level 2 for an extra year, she is not "learning nothing", she is improving on the skills that she didn't quite execute completely the year before, this will perfect her performance in this level and give a more solid foundation for her to build on when she is on a level 3 team.

Pressure can drive athletes crazy. Parents, your athletes have so many years ahead of them to be on a level 5 team and go to worlds, so pushing for a 10 year old, that is just not ready, to be on a level 4 team is unreasonable. Let your 10-year-old learn maturity and mental toughness at a level that is more appropriate, when your athlete is pushing herself too hard it takes the fun out of the tryout process and creates unnecessary stress on the athletes. Lastly, please be sure to support whatever decision your coaches make for your athlete's placement, they know your child and they are not trying to hurt their pride, but build them up so they can accomplish all of their goals as an athlete. Know that the level your kid makes this year doesn't define him or her as an athlete, but helps them grow into the cheerleader they have the ability to become!

Cover Image Credit: National Cheerleaders Association

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Poetry On Odyssey: Gardner

'I could smell her all over you / and once I even saw the juices / dripping from your lips"


I knew it all along,

that the flowers in her garden

were laced with the sweetest nectar,

that flow from her hands to her hips.

The same scent that used to cling to you,

I could smell her all over you,

and once I even saw the juices

dripping from your lips.

But that garden has long since been set ablaze

Because things always get in the way.

And I guess that now you long to venture back,

to see if another seed has taken root.

And it's alright, I suppose,

My garden is far less vibrant.

It's been weeded too often, clipped too far

But hers is still so young, so fresh and full of life.

So you still water my plants,

and pretend to be in her field of flowers.

And you wonder to yourself,

because you don't know if you ever truly liked the taste

of bitter deceit swimming through your veins.

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