“Be—don’t try to become” ―
Hello Enneagram lovers! Today on Enneagram Paths I’m continuing the interview series with another Type Three, Jordin Kelly. I’m so excited, you have such great things to share. My partner is a Three, and I was reading your answers to him out loud, asking, “is this true?” It’s good stuff, you guys.
Welcome, Jordin, thanks for being here and sharing with everyone your unique experience as a Three!
1. Three’s experience the world as a series of tasks or challenges to be overcome. Talk a little about how this shows up in your life.
I get really uncomfortable when there is no goal to work toward. Even if there is nothing to be achieved, I will make something up to keep me preoccupied with a sense of proving my self-worth. Everything I do, including relationships and spirituality, has tinges of achievement-oriented thoughts. Case in point: my entire spiritual journey started by trying to “achieve” enlightenment
2. How do you make decisions? From your gut, from your head, or from your heart? (Or any combination.)
At my healthiest, I make decisions with my heart. In other words, whatever I feel most “aligned with,” I choose. However, sometimes I am afraid of my heart because it is inefficient, childlike, and has no concept of a finish line or achieving anything. For a lot of my life, I have actually tried my best to avoid making decisions with my heart and instead relied on my mind to logically figure out what I should do because that seems more efficient.
3. What happens to your closest relationships when you’re stressed and go to Arrow Type Nine? What happens to your relationships when you’re healthy and go to Arrow Type Six?
Yeah, I’ve got this thing I do where if I feel vulnerable, I just totally withdraw like a Nine. I go to a place deep within myself that makes it hard to communicate clearly because shame twists everything. Also, I have a very hard time expressing anger. It’s one of the quickest feelings I both self-medicate with and withdraw from.
When I go to Type Six, this weird thing happens where I feel more separate and more connected with my partner at the same time. I feel more separate in that I no longer am seeing them as just an extension of myself to manipulate and take for granted. Instead, I see them as a separate person, with their own wants and needs, in their own beauty, and I can actually appreciate them for who they are instead of using them to help me feel like less of a failure. And I feel more connected with them because I feel like more of a team. I am trusting, instead of insecure or anxious. So, it’s like I become less co-dependent and more present, trusting, and appreciative.
4. How does the need for image and status play out in your daily life? Do you find yourself changing and adjusting to people and circumstances?
I moved around a lot as a kid. As a result, I got really good at working my way into friend groups. One time in high school it finally dawned on me like, “Wow, I start talking and acting like whoever I want to hang out with. And I’m so good at it that I sometimes do it better than they do.” I think even beyond the achieving and success-oriented part of my Threeness, the chameleon/mask wearer part is going to be the hardest for me to shake. It’s like it’s unconscious. I went to Peru, and within the first day there I already knew what clothes I needed to buy to look cool and fit in. It can be nice when I can “speak the language” of virtually anyone, but it is also a curse. There is a lot of pain and suffering that comes from abandoning myself to play what I think is a more admirable role for someone else. I would say most of my pain comes from this, actually.
5. What do you wish other people understood about being a Type Three?
I feel like a lot of what I read on the internet about Threes is really surface-y of the type. Like, sure we like achieving things and work really hard and all that. But maybe similar to Sevens, there is a deeper side to us Threes that doesn’t get talked about very much. At our core: we work hard to achieve things because we don’t feel like we are worthy human beings until we prove it; until we convince someone else to say we are good enough. We’re so disconnected from the part of ourselves that knows we are worthy no matter what, that we’ve no choice but to manipulate others by performing and achieving into being a replacement for that part of ourselves. The real tragedy is that nothing outside of us can replace that part of ourselves. And while all we’re looking for is ourselves in our search for worth, we tend to disconnect from ourselves even more in the name of winning attention and admiration from others.
6. Tell us about your Wing. Do you know what it is? How does it color your experiences as a Three?
I’ve got a Four Wing which means I’m both terribly tortured (and dramatic ) and complete with a system of checks and balances. When I feel sad, my Threeness wants to power through the sadness and get to work, but my Fourness wants to sit and wallow in it for a while. Since I look similar to a Nine in stress anyway, I usually end up wallowing and/or self-medicating. And then my Threeness shames me harshly for wallowing and not being productive. Which makes me want to wallow even more. It’s a vicious cycle that has lead me to very severe depression. Another aspect that can be torturous at times but has felt more like a beneficial check and balance system for me is the Type Three’s tendency to betray themselves to fit in and the Four’s desire to be 100% authentic and stay true to themselves even if it means not fitting in. In this way, my Four Wing has actually been a map back to my virtue of honesty while still maintaining my three superpower of adaptability and connecting with others using their language.
7. What would the phrase, “I am loved as myself, even when I fail,” mean to you if you knew it to be deeply true?
Phew. I mean, that is THE game changer for me as a Type Three. It speaks directly to the inner chains that say, “I am only loved if I succeed.” To be loved even in failure means I can get off the hamster’s wheel and stop trying to hard to be anything other than myself. One night I went out with a couple of friends to play shuffleboard. One of the girls had so much to drink that she wasn’t doing very good at the game. I could tell though, that her teammate loved her so much that he would rather be on her team and lose than to win and not be on her team. That realization hit me hard. Because love like that is so foreign to a Three. I imagined being loved that way, and loving myself that way, and for an instant, it was like everything shifted, my inner chains broke open, I stopped running on the hamster’s wheel, and I just…was. I felt free to try new things and not have to worry about failing because I would rather be on my own team and fail than to betray myself and win.
8. As a Type Three do you connect to spirituality? Are there any spiritual practices you participate in?
I do, but I don’t call it anything in particular. Growing up I was a Christian, which for me, was the perfect vessel to use all my Three neuroses to win the approval of God. I played the part valiantly, but even my construct for God could not replace the part of myself I was searching for; the part that knows I don’t need to earn my worthiness, that I am already worthy. I am very spiritual now, but have no labels for anything. I play in all religions and non-religions, holding everything loosely. I don’t have a set practice on purpose, because I don’t want it to turn into another thing to check off the to-do list. Instead, I try to get in touch with my heart and follow my desires for spiritual practice in the moment. There is no separation between secular and spiritual in my life anymore. By tuning into my heart, I find that I’m always practicing my spirituality.
9. How do feelings show up in your life? Are you able to recognize and experience your feelings or do you suppress them?
Committing to feeling all of my feelings revolutionized my life. I have a lifetime of stored emotion packed away in my body because I refused to feel it. After all, it is hard to run an efficient race when you’re sobbing uncontrollably. But committing to feeling all of my feelings forced me to change my priorities from achievement and efficiency to connecting with myself in the here and now. This has opened up a whole new world – a painful world sometimes, sure, but also a happier, more integrated and more connected world that I much prefer.
10. Talk about what the words Authenticity, Be, and Pain mean to you today?
Achievement and admiration used to be the motors that kept me moving forward, now it is authenticity. Instead of asking how I can be more productive, I now ask how I can connect with myself even deeper. Being is still very hard for me sometimes. Similar to Type Sevens, staying in the same place starts to feel like sinking. I get restless and get the urge to DO something. But I’m learning that just being is perhaps the most fruitful thing I’ve ever done. Underneath the icky stuff that sometimes gets brought up when I stand still long enough, being always leads me back to myself and to reality. It is necessary for centering, and makes me wonder how I can integrate even something like productivity into presence even more in my life.
Bio: Jordin Kelly is proof you’re not the only weirdo spinning around this ball of blue. Don’t believe it? All the proof you need is on her blog at ourweirdlives.com. There she shares her most embarrassing moments and other stories tailored around one thing: helping you feel less weird and alone. Do yourself a favor and check it out here.
*Photo by Andi Rieger on Unsplash