This (beginning-to-be-fall!) Monday, we have Alexandra Arroyo-Acevedo on the Enneagram Paths blog. Welcome, Alexandra, it’s so great to have you and we’re looking forward to hearing about what it’s like to be a Type Five in your life. As a reminder, Riso and Hudson in The Wisdom of the Enneagram define a Type Five as, “[the investigator who] wants to understand how the world works. They are always searching, asking questions, and delving into things in depth. They do not accept received opinions and doctrines, feeling a strong need to test the truth of most assumptions for themselves.”
As a Type Five, I found myself saying, “Hell yes!!” a lot when reading through this interview. I learned about Alexandra, a person different from me, but who sees the world using my same lens. This is why I love doing interviews, they’re both so uplifting of individual expression, while also unifying under the shared expression of Type, growth, and stress. I hope that Enneagram Paths is a place where you can feel like you’re not alone in the way you think, act, or emote and I hope it helps you become more compassionate about the way others move through the world.
Here we go!
1. Alexandra, Fives see and experience the world by trying to make sense of it with their thoughts. Talk a little about how this shows up in your life.
Oh god, how does this not show up in my life? Understanding is how I feel comfortable enough to bring forth my full personality—my humor, my effort, my ideas, my generosity, everything. This applies to people, social environments, jobs, machines, you name it. The people who know me well almost unanimously believed I was cold and arrogant at first, and then got closer and knew the real me better. The ones that did not have that first impression of me, saw me as gregarious, extroverted, and opinionated, probably because they were observing me in a setting I was already comfortable in. (Five go to Type Eight in health/integration) Crazy difference.
I frequently compare my personality to that of a cat. I can’t be approached quickly without being startled. It’s best to make your presence known and then just exist around me while I get comfortable on my own. People descriptions of themselves mean almost nothing to me, sad to say. I have to observe them for myself.
2. How do you make decisions? From your gut, from your head, or from your heart?
My default is to make decisions from my head. Even with the influences from my gut and my heart, my head has the last say. I have to consciously make the decision to give my heart and body a voice. However, that is a practice that still makes me very nervous. Putting my head in the back seat makes me feel prone to behaving like a wild animal. Exciting and honest, but reckless and potentially dangerous. At times, I definitely wish that I was more spontaneous and bold with action and emotion, but those responses only seem to come out after my processing has made its way through the plumbing of my brain.
3. What happens to your closest relationships when you’re stressed and go to Arrow Type Seven? What happens when you’re healthy and go to Arrow Type Eight?
I’m sure I frustrate people when I go to Type Seven spaces. I crawl into my Type Five cave but seem indifferent to my stressors. My favorite phrases to use are “I just need some space” or “I just need to re-center”. Then I cheerfully flutter away on my own to some activity that doesn’t require me to think like yoga, cleaning, shopping, etc. It must confusing to watch because right before that, I’m usually DEEP into a rabbit hole of confusion and indecision. I’m sure it’s mostly frustrating because I’m very resistant to help or advice.
Being in a Type Eight space is very different. My loved ones, even strangers, feel more connected to me because I become more outspoken and forward. This especially comes out in group settings with friends or family. My charm comes out confidently and I feel seen and felt. Although sometimes I dip into the low end of Eight and get a little too blunt when I’m feeling determined but nervous about what needs to be said. It’s a balancing act.
My fiancé is an 8w9. He’s the greatest man on the planet and such an inspiration. Our relationship is super helpful to my growth because it requires me to speak up and take action just as often as it requires him to slow down and access his gentleness.
4. How does Avarice/Greed play out in your daily life? Do you find yourself hoarding time, energy, and resources?
Time and energy are my most precious resources. I’ll decline invitations and cancel plans if I feel my day or my week is too filled up because I worry I won’t have the energy or attention span or fullness of myself to be engaging or sharp or effective. I also tend to exaggerate how much time I need to complete tasks or to recuperate post social event. I don’t find that I’m greedy with my physical resources (money/ food/etc.) but perhaps this is because I don’t often put myself in positions where others can see them as available.
5. What do you wish other people understood about being a Type Five?
Our slow pace towards action, even reactions, is not due to indifference! If I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it! …eventually. I just need to go about doing it correctly and thoroughly. If I don’t immediately argue back or respond in a discussion, it’s because I need a moment (or many) to consider what I’m being told in order to respond thoughtfully and effectively. The worst thing I could do is give someone a reason to believe I don’t know what I’m talking about! I care so much! Just in a slow, methodical way.
6. Tell us about your Wing. Do you know what it is? How does it color your experiences as a Five?
I have a large, large 4w. Large enough to have confused me considerably when I was trying to figure out my type. I relate to almost everything about the Type Four—the deep emotions, the comfort in melancholic feelings, the self-awareness, etc. The observation that finalized me being a Type Five is that I prefer to keep all of my intensity to myself. Fours, though shy at times, wear their hearts on their sleeves and are very emotionally forward. That’s not naturally me; I need a very familiar, safe space to be able to bring my emotions forward.
My 4w brings positives and negatives. Negatives: I have a stronger tendency to withdraw and wallow when I’m in lower levels of health. The Four energy can really slow me down because not only do I have to sort through my mental process, but I have to understand my emotions. Positives: it’s easy for me to empathize with others. As a teacher, my 4w is heavily utilized in making my younger students feel comfortable. Being in tune with my emotions has helped me understand that emotions are often just ever-changing weather patterns. Not all of them need to be deconstructed and taken too seriously. What a relief.
7. What would the phrases, “You know enough. You can handle this. You are wise,” mean to you if you knew them to be deeply true?
Just reading these phrases makes me nervous and emotional. Moments of really, truly believing I can handle things makes me feel like a superhero. And while the idea of ever knowing enough is wildly foreign to me, believing that to be true would make me question where to put my energy. Into just enjoying things? Into building an empire? Who knows! Perhaps, it would propel me to do everything I could, as well as I could. Knowing I have it all in me would be paradise.
8. As a Type Five do you personally connect to spirituality? Are there any spiritual practices you participate in?
Conceptually and emotionally, absolutely. However, the application of those practices to the “real world” requires an amount of discipline I still struggle with. I practice yoga fairly regularly. The idea of playing with shapes takes away the pressure of being perfect. The need to breathe through moments of struggle and tension is a good reminder to relax into my problems and trust that I know how to handle myself. Knowing that I will only get better and stronger if I continue to show up is invaluable wisdom.
9. How does emotion show up in your life? Do you value or suppress emotion?
I definitely used to suppress emotion. I still do without realizing it from time to time, but I value it enough to consciously bring myself back to it. Growing up, my mom and many close friends were very emotional. Their decision-making would depend on their mood, which wouldn’t always work out too great for them. So I learned to really discount how I’m feeling when it came to deciding what to do. Then a few years ago, I was in a relationship that really brought out the full force of my heart. I admired his emotional bravery and really learned how to tap into my own emotional intelligence. I learned that the confusion I was often frustrated with was really sadness or anger. I also learned that my relationship was actually highly manipulative and I had been feeling neglected and taken advantage of for a long time without realizing it. Learning how to listen to my own heart helped me take care of myself because, instead of constantly going back to the drawing board to find a thread of logic that would explain or justify the circumstances, I was able to just say “I don’t feel cared for or loved or respected” and finally leave.
Being a Five, though, emotions are not my first language. So rather than being in my emotions, I like to say that I have a relationship with them. I want them to feel heard and cared for and loved because they keep me feeling nurtured and cared for. It’s quite a team.
10. Talk about what the words Voice and Relationship mean to you today.
Voice makes me think that I should be louder about my thoughts. That maybe my perspectives could be helpful or insightful. The only thing that stops me is the idea that people will find them ridiculous or find that one flaw that will destroy it, making me look like an idiot. Working on that.
Relationship immediately makes me think of the word “generosity”. My close relationships with family, friends, coworkers, my fiancé all require my time, attention, and energy. I have to give myself to them in order to cultivate those connections and help them grow. And I do so happily because as dramatically introverted as I am, my relationships are my most precious jewels. They love and accept the way that I am while encouraging me to grow and play and build. Every Five needs relationships. They’re softening and strengthening, relaxing and energizing all at once.
Hi, I’m Alexandra Arroyo-Acevedo! I’m 26 and I work as a private vocal/piano coach, as well as a singer in a duo with my fiancé (8w9). I spend an embarrassing amount of time binge-watching dark dramas or bad reality shows. I fantasize about going back to school for a masters degree but the idea of being told what to study and how to study it stops me dead in my tracks every time. I’m just as into astrology as I am the Enneagram. I’m a collector of books, dog and cat mom, food lover, and I’m learning how to bead jewelry. Surprise! I’m a Ravenclaw.
*Header Photo by Cristian Palmer on Unsplash