I sat at the back of the classroom. The fluorescent lights gave everyone a green pallor to their skin. You got used to the constant buzzing after years of conditioning.
I liked sitting in the back. No one noticed me. This was both good and bad. No one noticed me, but then, I wasn’t teased or called out in front of anyone. I was invisible.
I sat next to a nice girl, and two more popular girls sat in front of me. We were a cacophony of big hair and vibrant colors. French rolled jeans were now out of favor, and wide legs were coming back.
This was the 90s. And, I was in 8th grade.
The home room teacher was one of the science teachers. There was a closet that adjoined the two corner science classrooms. And the rumor was that the Mr. Caruthers (married) and Ms. Holden (divorced) were conducting a secret love affair in the closet. Before attendance was taken, Jill turned around, excitedly and asked who she should invite. She was looking at me, and the nice girl, Amber, who sat at my left. It was nearing the end of the school year because she was planning her June birthday party.
I gave a non-committal shrug, as I sat and listened to this conversation. I was trying to be stoic. I was trying to hold back the warm salty drops that were welling up in my eyes as Jill excitedly described the pool, and warm, and fun she was planning. I was trying to be calm while she inconsiderately described her party.
I was holding back tears because I wasn’t on the guest list. I had succeeded in being invisible. I had succeeded, again, in not mattering.
Fast forward to 2014, and it begins to make sense. Dale Rhodes explained to us, during our first and second WVDO leadership academy class, that a classic trait of nines is that their trance always goes back to “I don’t matter.”
In 2008, she asked me in one of our weekly sessions, “Do you think he’s capable of deep feeling?” I wanted to say yes. I wanted it to be true, but I wasn’t sure. We hadn’t had enough conversations. Certainly not enough that went “deep”. And, now, years later, as I consider my “type”, my avoidance of conflict, my inability to correctly articulate exactly what I’m feeling in any given moment, especially when asked point-blank… Now, I wonder if that question should be turned to me. “Do you think you are capable of deep feeling? Do you think you are capable of having relationships more than shallow, surface things?”
The answer is that I don’t know. Being a fence sitter. Being non-committal about passing judgement, holding it back, to keep the illusory promise of harmony — this is how I’ve always operated.
It’s interesting to uncover this layer of knowledge. I’ve taken various forms of the Meyers Briggs. I’ve read different books on spirituality. I have been trained Catholic and learning that perception of what’s right. But, when Dale showcased the 9 types of the Enneagram, and how it showed where we excel (me: diplomacy, hearing all sides of a story, seeking peace, harmony, and mutual regard) and then our pitfalls (my vices: too much TV watching, sloth like, inability to make decisions)… It opened up an awareness that Meyers Briggs and Strengthsfinder have not been able to do. Sure, those tools help understand how I perceive information and where my strengths focus, but something was always missing.
Now, I begin a new journey of self-awareness. As I sit around, I try to focus, now, on where my attention is going. In conflict, I try to assess what my gut is telling me, what messages is it sending to my head. I look around, does this message match with what they are trying to show me? It’s an interesting experience to be outside of yourself while inside of yourself, observing the feelings you are having and where your attention wants to naturally gravitate.
That’s all for now. For now, welcome to my point: Nine.