You can find something truly important in an ordinary minute - Mitch Albom, For One More Day

Truth be told, when I did a search for quotes pertaining to the word, ordinary, this was perhaps the only one that didn't make the word out to be something less than, something for which someone merely settles. Ordinary appears to be something that most people don't want to be. Culture and society teaches us that we much seek after the extra-ordinary. The mundane simply isn't enough. The bland does not bring fulfillment. The plain and simple simply leave us wanting more.

I'm nearing the end of my first unit of CPE here at the Clinic. Earlier in the unit, my supervisor and I were trying to nail down and get clarity on my Enneagram type. For quite some time, computer tests had typed me as a Two, a Helper. My tests here typed me initially as a One, a Perfectionist/Reformer. But another number was a close (one-point) second, and as we talked, we realized that I am a Four, an Individualist/Artist/Tragic Romantic.

To anyone who knows me, I ask this: are you surprised? 

When Amy asked me how I felt about the word ordinary, I imagine she could see me almost visibly gag, wanting to vomit as if simply hearing the word turned my guts inside out. This reaction, she told me, is not uncommon to a Four. The Enneagram Institute describes a Four in brief as follows:

Fours are self-aware, sensitive, and reserved. They are emotionally honest, creative, and personal, but can also be moody and self-conscious. Withholding themselves from others due to feeling vulnerable and defective, they can also feel disdainful and exempt from ordinary ways of living. They typically have problems with melancholy, self-indulgence, and self-pity.

Given a Four's basic fear of having no real identity or personal significance (read: uniqueness), their core motivation is to be unique, to be perceived as special. As I began to read about my type, I felt more and more exposed, laid open, as if someone had just told my deepest, darkest secret... that was never really a secret at all. The truth is this was not the first time I've been called out on this fear. However, it feels as if this was the first time that someone called me out on it, and I was willing to receive this truth in love rather than as a condemnation or mechanism of shame. For whatever reason, this is who I am.

Amy shared another truth, laying my fear right out there on the table for me to hear...

...I'm really not that special

I cannot tell you how sad part of me felt to hear those words. Paradoxically, I cannot tell you just how deeply that statement resonated within me as being true. But there was a second part to this truth: there are people in this world to whom I very special, to whom I mean a great deal, and this has to be enough for me. If I or anyone were special to the whole world, then we wouldn't really be special, important, or significant at all. What kind of world would that be? What kind of happiness or fulfillment would that bring?

None of us are ordinary – we just settle into ordinary lives - Dianna Hardy, The Spell of Summer

Please hear me correctly: this is an admission, a confession of sorts. Not a cry for help, much less rebuttal. In admitting my fear of the ordinary, I hope to re-understand the ordinary, mundane, banal, plan and simple in a new light, with grace and welcome. I hope to let my needs be more simple and plausible rather than these grandiose, larger-than-life, unattainable apexes of impossibility. I hope to let myself languish in the love already given me instead of having a truly insatiable appetite for attention that leaves me feeling actually rather unseen and unheard.

To all those who have loved and continue to love me, even in all of my faults and flaws, thank you. Because of you, I am special. There isn't much else I can say...

If you're curious about the Enneagram and perhaps your own type, check out this free test.


photo credit: Caro Wallis via Flickr