You might be reading your Enneagram wrong

Illustrations by @ashton.creates

I’m a Type Nine on the Enneagram. According to an Instagram account I follow, I have a similar personality to Snow White and my ideal Saturday night involves pizza, essential oils and fuzzy slippers.

Flashy and colorful doodles on Enneagram types have taken over Instagram recently, inspiring Millennials to take part in this popular personality test, which has ideas that date back to ancient times. There is, however, a more complex rationale behind the Enneagram phenomenon that goes beyond Disney character comparisons.

The nine-pointed Enneagram of Personality represents nine types of self-identification, and each type is characterized by an inner motivation. For example, Type Twos, often known as The Giver or Helper, walk into a room and think they know what you need before you even know — there’s an underlying sense of pride based on this. Type Eights are often dubbed The Protectors or Challengers and have a lust for life and a desire for intensity and tend to be leaders.

Online Enneagram tests can give you a starting point in determining your type, but accredited Enneagram professional Nhien Vuong recommends doing deeper research to assess how you can apply your type to everyday life.

Vuong notes that while the Instagram accounts may be fun and can help spread the word about the Enneagram, they tend to oversimplify things. Vuong hosts periodical meet-ups to help people better understand their Enneagram type and how to use it.

“[Social media] does have a place because it gives people awareness,” she says. “But if people only focus on their type and nothing else, they can get stuck in their personality. And it’s not that the personality is wrong — it’s that it’s limited.”

South Carolina artist Ashton Brye is an Instagrammer known for her Enneagram illustrations comparing types, like Marvel characters and Disney villains as Enneagram alter-egos. Her account started out as a place for her to “dump” her artwork, but her follower count spiked when she started posting Enneagram content last August. She hit sixteen thousand followers in November, and her account is now at sixty thousand and counting. Brye turns to Enneagram-accredited friends and enthusiast Suzanne Stablie’s podcasts for help.

iphone with Enneagram

“I have a lot of good friends that I’ve met through this who have been gracious enough to pour knowledge and information into me and are always willing to double check my work and give me feedback,”
she says.

Brye hopes that her followers don’t see her artwork as the end-all-be-all in their types and that they make an effort to learn more about themselves.

“It’s all about who you are and why you are the way you are,” Brye says. “I want others to dive into it as much as I have so that they can reap the benefits that I have from learning so much about it.”

GO: Enneagram expert Nhien Vuong hosts regular meet-ups to discuss topics related to Enneagram. The next one is Feb. 9. See more info at

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