• Mayreni Sweis

Enneagrams: How Each Type is Living Through the Pandemic

What is your Enneagram?

Maybe that question came up while brunching with friends (remember those outings?), or during your study group, or possibly this is your first time encountering the Enneagram. Personally, I like to explain the enneagram as a more in-depth version of the Myers Briggs personality test. The main difference is that the Enneagram focuses on nurture while the other focuses on nature. Once you know your type, indicated by a number 1-9, you can read all about your motivations, core fears, the signs of a healthy/unhealthy type #, etc. It's quite revealing and the truth is addicting.


I encountered the Enneagram fascination about 2 years ago, but was already late to the game. After reading more about it, I understood it as a powerful tool to become more self-aware of my intrinsic character and a tool to connect with others on a deeper level. Because the Enneagram focuses on specificity, while celebrating the unique traits of each individual, I thought it would be fun and interesting to interview each of the 9 types about how they are living and adapting to life during the pandemic. I asked each type the same four questions, adapting the motivation/fear per each type, and compiled their thoughtful responses. The women featured have shared their honest struggles and triumphs during this impeccably challenging time we are all facing and the common thread I see is resilience. I found myself relating to each of these types, even if I didn't share their enneagram number. I know you will too, as we are all doing our best to take care during this season of life.

Type 1: The Reformer

Danielle Golson


1. What activities have you discovered or re-discovered during quarantine? Do you feel like this relates to your Enneagram?

One activity I’ve rediscovered is taking walks outside and being in nature more. I think this activity goes against my natural tendencies as a one because it’s an activity that I just do for fun and there’s very little planning or organization involved. Being outdoors is also very unpredictable (especially on the East coast), so it seems to clash with my Enneagram. However, this creates a lot of room for growth and allows me to enjoy simple moments.


2. Is there a quote or life mantra that has been getting you through this season of life?

I think one mantra that has gotten me through a lot of this season is that there is always something to be grateful for. Even when things are at their worst, I can always look to the endless ways that I have been blessed and remember how incredibly privileged I am. I have really learned to take nothing for granted this past year.


3. As an Enneagram Type 1, you’re likely motivated by "Solving problems and bringing order and organization to chaos." What are some things you’ve been doing to motivate yourself?

Some of the ways I stay motivated is by making lists and setting goals. This allows me to stay organized and not drop any tasks, as well as track my progress along the way. There is nothing more satisfying than meeting a goal or finishing a checklist! tI just makes me want to start another one!


4. As an Enneagram Type 1, your core fear is likely “Being bad / being wrong.” How do you see that playing out in these unprecedented times?

As an Enneagram One trying to navigate these unprecedented times, I find myself pushing myself to be on the right side of history. Both with the pandemic and BLM movement, there are issues of social justice at stake and I do not want to make decisions that lead to an increase of exposure, deaths, or systemic oppression. I want to look back and know that I worked for the good of the vulnerable, downtrodden, and exploited. This has been my focus during these times and I’m always willing to learn how I can be a better friend and neighbor to those around me.


Type 2: The Helper

Carly Whitney


1. What activities have you discovered or re-discovered during quarantine? Do you feel like this relates to your Enneagram?

Since the pandemic, I’ve really gotten into taking care of plants! I’m not in a place where I can take on the responsibility of a dog, otherwise I definitely would have one. So plants are standing in right now as something I can still actively take care of and care for. I feel like this one really shows the “type 2” in me because caring for something or someone really fulfills me. I’ve also recently started learning embroidery and making an art journal! These are hobbies I‘ve done with others over FaceTime, which has made them extra fun!


2. Is there a quote or life mantra that has been getting you through this season of life?

Something my therapist told me when I was struggling through a really hard time was that what I was feeling wouldn’t last forever. It might feel like it, but it would eventually pass. So I’ve just kept telling myself that eventually this pandemic is going to be over and I can hug my friends again and go out in public without being overwhelmed by anxiety. I’m a huge optimist, so I think I’ve just been in the headspace of “things will get better” since March of last year.


3. As an Enneagram Type 2, you’re likely motivated by "Helping others." What are some things you’ve been doing to motivate yourself?

I think a huge one has been staying home as much as possible so I can help overwhelmed healthcare providers and the chronically ill community, who have been hit especially hard by this whole pandemic. I also started working as a nanny a few months into the pandemic where I can be a help to the parents I work for, since they’re both working from home. This pandemic has also really allowed me to accept help from others. Toward the end of December, I contracted COVID and while it was fairly mild, I ended up being exhausted and sick for a week. I felt awful and couldn’t leave my house and realized I was at a point where I needed to allow myself to accept help, which is really hard as a type 2. So many friends and family members texted and called to check in on me and bring or send me food. I’m endlessly grateful for them and I definitely wouldn’t have made it through that period as easily without them.


4. As an Enneagram Type 2, your core fear is likely "Being unloved / being unwanted." How do you see that playing out in these unprecedented times? I’ve been fortunate enough to live with roommates throughout most of the pandemic, so I’ve luckily never been by myself for most of quarantine. However, I’ve noticed I’ve had to put in a lot more effort to maintain relationships and stay connected with friends. We’ve gotten creative and met up in backyards with masks, hung out over Zoom, or texted while watching the same T.V. shows. I also really struggled at the beginning of quarantine because I’d lost my job as a substitute teacher at a development center and I felt really useless and unwanted. A couple months later I was able to begin working for a family as a nanny and that has really filled the gap for me of feeling useful and wanted and loved by the kiddos I get to care for.


Type 3: The Achiever

Sandra Elhachem


1. What activities have you discovered or re-discovered during quarantine? Do you feel like this relates to your Enneagram?

I picked up a lot of activities during quarantine. One of which is reading books from Reese Witherspoon’s book club list. Another activity I have been doing is catching up with movies and shows I did not have time for before quarantine because of work. Also, discovering artists and music that I didn't listen to before the pandemic. Once I gained more time in my schedule because of quarantine, I started working out again doing pilates and Zumba. I have been drawing almost everyday and taking art classes because I want to continue honing my craft and skill so that by the time I get a job, I am ready for routine and discipline. As an extrovert, I also LIVE for virtual hangouts and catching up with friends. I would say that these activities definitely relate to being a type three because I am an achiever who likes to take the initiative and stay on top of things.


2. Is there a quote or life mantra that has been getting you through this season of life?

A quote that has been getting me through these times is, “I knew these small feathers would become wings, I knew the wings would make me fly.” – BTS.


3. As an Enneagram Type 3, you’re likely motivated by "Optimism and achieving goals.” What are some things you’ve been doing to motivate yourself?

One of my strengths is being futuristic and able to plan ahead and work towards my goals. Some things I have been doing to keep myself motivated is drawing for hours almost everyday honing my skills and taking online art classes to learn animation and design programs. I also make sure to send my work to professionals in the industry for critiques and to learn what I can do to make my art stronger and grow as an artist. I also talk to friends often who hype me up as much as I hype them up. (Note from the editor: This is true!)


4. As an Enneagram Type 3, your core fear is likely “Being worthless / being a failure.” How do you see that playing out in these unprecedented times?

As a type 3 wing 2, known as “the charmer” and because I am an artist, I aim to please and entertain people, especially proving my worth to others. Like many others, at the start of the pandemic I was laid off from my internship at work. Once positions began opening up again I would apply. However, days, weeks, and months went by where I would not hear back from the positions I applied to, even though the positions were still open. It made me wonder whether my applications were just falling into a void never to be answered or simply I just was not qualified enough. It was an up and down process of convincing myself that it is not because I am not qualified, it's that the world is in a weird state at the moment and I just need to continue doing my thing, believe in myself, and keep trying.


Type 4: The Individualist

Kayla Whitmore


1. What activities have you discovered or re-discovered during quarantine? Do you feel like this relates to your Enneagram?

Ha, it's funny that you asked this, because prior to quarantine, I always really wanted to learn how to hand embroider, but I either never had the time to sit down to do it or didn't have the energy to figure it out. When the weather started to get rainy and cold in Oregon (where I'm currently living), many of the outdoor activities I had previously been doing to occupy my time became less available to me, and I realized that if there was ever a perfect time to begin embroidering, it was now. So, I ordered a beginners kit, researched and practiced basic stitches, and started putting needle to canvas. Eventually, I actually got pretty decent at it, and I even used my newly-minted embroidering skills to make most of the Christmas gifts that I gave to my family! And just today, one of my brother's friends asked if he could pay me to make him one, which I thought was both hilarious and a good opportunity. In the meantime, I also rediscovered my love for other creative hobbies, like sketching, writing, and reading, all of which had taken a back seat to homework and socializing in the last couple of years. All that to say. . . yes. I most definitely think that these hobbies relate to me being an Enneagram 4.


2. Is there a quote or life mantra that has been getting you through this season of life?

It's not a quote or anything, but I try to always keep in mind that there's no such thing as wasted time. Personally, I tend to fall into this cycle of anxiety that causes me to overthink tasks/events/things in general, which either leads me to procrastination and avoidance of whatever is causing me anxiety, or to perfectionistic tendencies that eventually burn me out. And when I inevitably have to take a mental health break, I typically spend the majority of that time worrying that I am not doing enough or that I am wasting my time being "lazy." (Which, I might add, doesn't lead to much progress in the mental health area.) So, during this time of isolation and self-reflection, I continually have been reminding myself that there is no such thing as "wasted time," because every second that I spend doing something or doing everything or doing absolutely nothing, is another second that will contribute to who I am and who I will be in the future. And every second of my life in the past has done exactly the same thing, regardless of whether I wanted it to or not. I like who I am now, so who's to say that this period of time filled with a whole lot of everything and nothing will result in anything different? It's not wasted; it's just time.


3. As an Enneagram Type 4, you're likely motivated by "Creativity, finding deeper meaning, and experiencing authentic feelings." What are some things you've been doing to motivate yourself?

Mainly, I've been investing in the hobbies that I previously mentioned in the first question. Participating in activities that I don't strictly have to do allows me to occupy my time with something that brings personal fulfillment while also encouraging further creativity. Additionally, I personally become more motivated when I am surrounded by people who share my passions or push me to grow. Since quarantine made it much more difficult for me to organically be around people and friends like that, I've also had to push myself to reach out to others and spend time flexing my creative muscles with them over FaceTime or Zoom, even if we have put in the extra effort to schedule those times out.


4. As an Enneagram Type 4, your core fear is likely "Being without significance / having no identity." How do you see that playing out in these unprecedented times?

Full disclosure, I feel like my past experiences with both depression and personal insecurities have partially prepared me to handle these recent events. During some of the darkest times in my emotional life, I would actively isolate myself or avoid meaningful connection with those close to me-- which is a very similar situation to the byproducts of quarantine. Those times taught me how to force myself to be vulnerable with others and ask for help or support, and they also provided ample opportunity for me to practice being totally honest with myself and my weaknesses in order to properly address them. At the time, I wished I didn't have to deal with those issues at all, but now? I'm grateful for how they prepared me for this period of intense emotional, physical, and mental vulnerability. That isn't to say that I haven't struggled at all with feelings of insignificance or loss of identity during this time, but those struggles are more manageable now because I feel better equipped to view them objectively and rationally. It also helps that I recently got married and now have a built-in system of unconditional support and love, haha.


Type 5: The Investigator

Brooke Adams


1. What activities have you discovered or re-discovered during quarantine? Do you feel like this relates to your Enneagram?

I have read even more books during quarantine than usual. I feel this relates to my Enneagram number's love of knowledge. While this is not a new activity, I have re-discovered a sense of comfort with reading in this time.


2. Is there a quote or life mantra that has been getting you through this season of life?

"This is temporary. This is temporary."

-Dax Shepard (or at least I attribute it to him as he said he says this to himself over and over, if he needs to for two hours or two weeks, to overcome a challenging time).


3. As an Enneagram Type 5, you’re likely motivated by "Learning and having a deep knowledge of topics." What are some things you’ve been doing to motivate yourself?

Learning about trail running, my new favorite activity, has been an outlet to gain knowledge of a new topic. It is fun to learn and then immediately apply the learning when I go running. This motivates me and is also a great way to feel like I’m exploring a new place without being able to travel- my favorite way of learning and engaging with unfamiliar topics.


Learning more backcountry skills, perfecting sourdough, and learning about natural cleaning products (random, I know) have also been great motivators as all of these have tangible rewards such as: increased feelings of safety outdoors, delicious bread, and a home that smells good without irritating chemicals.


4. As an Enneagram Type 5, your core fear is likely “Being incompetent / being incapable.” How do you see that playing out in these unprecedented times?

Being unemployed for a year has very much hit on that fear, endless applications and quiet on the other line, and also not having anything I can do to change that. I was in a job that proved my competence and capability and had that taken away due to COVID. Throughout unemployment, people remind me that these are unprecedented times, especially being in the job market for international development. It is easy to get down on myself, forget this fact, and attribute it all to my abilities or lack thereof.


Type 6: The Loyalist

Emily Luk


1. What activities have you discovered or re-discovered during quarantine? Do you feel like this relates to your Enneagram?

I have rediscovered my passion for visual art and design. Growing up, I had always loved drawing and painting, but this year I created my own small business to sell the stickers I am creating! Combining my passion for art with business definitely relates to being an Enneagram Type 6. During the pandemic, I worried about not being able to get hired to work while most places shut down. Making my own form of business gives me a sense of security in terms of giving myself a goal to work towards during these times!

2. Is there a quote or life mantra that has been getting you through this season of life?

A life mantra that has been getting me through this season of life is to take everything one step at a time! I strongly believe that achieving anything is possible when you take a step back and roll with the punches as they come. I tend to stress when I am not working or get overwhelmed when I want to complete several tasks immediately. I learned the hard way that I’d rather take a full day off for myself rather than getting sick from overwork and then not being able to work for at least a few days. I often have to remind myself that taking breaks and having “mental health days” are extremely important. Despite the difficulties of this season of life, I am still grateful, because I got the opportunity to see how taking care of my health has benefited me in staying positive and motivated overall.


3. As an Enneagram Type 6, you’re likely motivated by "Creating and finding security, having a duty or responsibility to complete something." What are some things you’ve been doing to motivate yourself?

This is in fact extremely true for me! I mentioned my small business earlier, which keeps me busy on some days. Creating stickers for my shop keeps me motivated for what my mind perceives as an important task. If I work on the important task for too long, I will get burnt out. If I do absolutely nothing or watch Netflix for an entire day, I get anxious. To find the middle ground, I like to schedule in time to work on an oil painting or catch up with my friends/family over the phone. These activities are more like hobbies and personal responsibilities, but they still give me the secure sense of “I am completing necessary tasks.” A busy day keeps me recharged and guilt-free when I do take a break to watch Netflix for hours at a time!


4. As an Enneagram Type 6, your core fear is likely "Being without support / being without guidance." How do you see that playing out in these unprecedented times?

Initially during these unprecedented times, I felt extremely anxious in what was to come. As an Enneagram Type 6, I always have a main plan and a few backup plans for my future. I strongly dislike going through life without knowing what goals I want to pursue. With these unprecedented times, I often still feel worried about how most of my career plans for 2020 falling through will affect my future. When I feel overly anxious and discouraged, I usually talk about my concerns with a friend or family member. I know they are always there for me. They are my personal support and guidance, especially when there is lack of support elsewhere. I honestly have no idea how I would be able to stay in a healthy mindset if it weren’t for their expressed support and confidence in me.


Type 7: The Enthusiast

Josephine Wang


1. What activities have you discovered or re-discovered during quarantine? Do you feel like this relates to your Enneagram?

I have rediscovered games like puzzles, chess, and sudoku during quarantine. It's something I started in March and have kept it up since then. It's really fun and it stimulates my mind! Definitely not related to my Enneagram number, I think.


2. Is there a quote or life mantra that has been getting you through this season of life?

No pain no gain. (Not only for this season of life. It is always my mantra).


3. As an Enneagram Type 7, you’re likely motivated by "Being happy and contributing to the world in order to relieve suffering." What are some things you’ve been doing to motivate yourself?

I think about the future and my goals. I also focus on what I have right in front of me like school, work, non-profit stuff, etc.


4. As an Enneagram Type 7, your core fear is likely “Being deprived / being trapped.” How do you see that playing out in these unprecedented times?

When I don't get to travel, I literally get antsy, anxious, and depressed- no joke. So not being able to travel as much as I used to is unhealthy. But also as I have been at home, I have adapted really well to enjoying my time indoors. So I realized that being an Enneagram 7 does not limit me to the "guidelines" of a type 7 and that being inside is completely fine.


Type 8: The Challenger

Sonia Mott


1. What activities have you discovered or re-discovered during quarantine? Do you feel like this relates to your Enneagram?

I rediscovered my love for baking! I recently purchased a new cook book (Desert Person by Claire Saffitz!) and have had a great time going through all of the recipes in there and perfecting some of them. I do think this is pretty on brand for my Enneagram.


2. Is there a quote or life mantra that has been getting you through this season of life?

“You’re fear of looking stupid is holding you back” has been on repeat in my head lately.


3. As an Enneagram Type 8, you’re likely motivated by "Being self-reliant and fighting for just causes." What are some things you’ve been doing to motivate yourself?

To motivate myself, I took up being more physically active and trying to keep myself mentally motivated for why I do what I do. I’m (hopefully) headed to law school next Fall, so when I feel overwhelmed or like I can’t do it, I will watch or read something that reminds me that the struggle now is worth whatever I might be able to do later.


4. As an Enneagram Type 8, your core fear is likely “Being controlled / being harmed.” How do you see that playing out in these unprecedented times?

I have definitely found myself struggling being home and losing the independence I had of living on my own. I try to be conscious of how this affects my behavior towards those I love and if I find myself lashing out because I feel controlled, I try to take a minute to just recenter myself.


Type 9: The Peacemaker

Taylor Johnson


1. What activities have you discovered or re-discovered during quarantine? Do you feel like this relates to your Enneagram?

During quarantine, I picked up knitting, cooking, and surfing, and got back into running and reading. As the center of the gut triad, I do think that I have a tendency toward more kinesthetic activities.

2. Is there a quote or life mantra that has been getting you through this season of life?

"Love is the motive, justice is the instrument."


3. As an Enneagram Type 9, you’re likely motivated by "Keeping the peace and connecting others." What are some things you’ve been doing to motivate yourself?

Looking past what's right in front of me. My biggest challenge, which is also my biggest motivation, has been to ask, how can I honor and work toward my future, instead of settling for what is comfortable now and what feels like peace right now?


4. As an Enneagram Type 9, your core fear is likely "Being separated / being at loss with others." How do you see that playing out in these unprecedented times?

This past year has really been an invitation to intentionality within my relationships. Struggling with the sense of lost connection and separation has put into perspective how much I do value those relationships and that real friendships do not occur by accident or through convenience, but by taking ownership of my part in building them. When feelings of separation do rear their ugly head, this year more than ever, I have chosen daily to turn to my relationship with God for peace and connection.


Note from the Editor: Thank you to all the lovely ladies who participated and shared their experiences so openly and honestly. You have all inspired me and I know our readers will be inspired too. Thank you.


78 views