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Enneagram Type 4: The Creative Individualist

Posted by Ashley Robinson | Jun 7, 2020 3:00:00 PM

General Education

 

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Are you the type of person that marches to the beat of their own drum? Do you blaze new trails for yourself and others? Are you a bit of a creative genius? If so, you might be an Enneagram Type 4, also known as The Individualist! 

In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about Enneagram Type Fours, including:

  • The typical Enneagram Type 4 personality, and how to know if you’re a 4
  • The top five things you need to know about Enneagram Type 4s
  • Enneagram Type 4s in relationships 
  • The best career choices for Type Fours
  • The Enneagram Type 4 wings 

Let’s get started!


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The Type 4 Personality

Enneagram Type Fours—or “Fours,” as we’ll call them—are known as “the Individualists.” These independent folks are known for being sensitive, introspective, and expressive.

Fours thrive when they have the chance to follow their creative impulses, whether that’s making beautiful art to share with the world or embracing a unique way to express themselves. (If you’re the type that changes your hair color every three weeks, you might be a Four!) 

Fours are always on a quest to find and express their true essence—no matter how unusual that might be. In fact, if you’re a Four, quirkiness is a good thing! Fours want other people to recognize and celebrate their uniqueness, and they value uniqueness in others, too.

When Fours are under stress, they tend to withdraw from social life and become hyper-focused on their flaws and negative emotions. At their worst, Fours lose their sense of self-worth and tend toward depression and melancholy.

As a personality type that’s strongly impacted by their moods and emotions, Fours tend to be mercurial. It can seem like Fours are in a constant state of change! But this is one of the things that makes Fours wise: they understand that humans evolve and grow. When Fours are balanced and happy, they can be some of the most understanding and supportive people out there. 

If you’re wondering what this personality type looks like under the limelight, some Enneagram Type 4 celebrities include Bob Dylan, Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, Virginia Woolf, and Frida Kahlo. 

 

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Quiz: Are You a Type 4?

While there are many in-depth resources that you can consult to take a deep dive on your Enneagram type, we can get you started here with a five question quiz to determine if you might be a Type 4. Answer the questions below with a simple “yes” or “no” to find out:

  • Do you enjoy spending time alone exploring your ideas, dreams, talents, and art?
  • Are you highly creative?
  • Are you confident in your individuality?
  • Do you sometimes feel like no one understands you, or that your identity is too complex for others to connect with?
  • Do you sometimes withdraw from others and hide your true feelings because you’re afraid of rejection?

If you answered “yes” to the majority of the questions above, it’s possible you are an Enneagram Type 4! 

Exploring your perceptions of yourself and learning more about this Enneagram personality type can help you better understand yourself and how you relate to the world around you.

 

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Top 5 Things to Know About Enneagram Type Fours

Every Enneagram personality type has some trademark features that make them stand out. (It’s a lot like astrology in that way!) Knowing these core characteristics can help you figure out what makes you tick, and it can even help you be more successful in school, your relationships, and even your career. 

Below, we’ll cover the top five things you need to know about being an Enneagram Type Four.

 

#1: They Feel Misunderstood

Four’s lifelong quest is to understand who they truly are. Because Fours are always on a journey of self discovery, they often feel that others cannot understand them either. This trait is at the core of the Enneagram Type Four personality.

In order to feel safe and accepted, Fours need to know that they can express themselves and be honest in relationships with others. Friends and family who recognize this struggle in a Four’s life will earn a Four’s trust. Most of all, though, Fours have to learn to be comfortable with their own ever-evolving identity. 

 

#2: They’re Highly Creative

When Fours are at their best, they are highly creative. Fours are gifted at interpreting human experience and often feel inspired to represent what they see through beautiful art, writing, music, or dance.

More than other Enneagram types, Fours are also known for having deep emotional experiences and grappling with the darker parts of their personality. This willingness to be honest about their inner world can lead Fours to create art that makes others feel seen.

 

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When Enneagram Fours feel stressed or overwhelmed, they tend to retreat until they feel more in control.

 

#3: They Withdraw When They’re Stressed

Fours are introspective and highly sensitive, so when they’re under stress, they tend to withdraw. Fours need space to process their feelings and are highly sensitive to judgment from others. 

To protect themselves, Fours will hide out to get their emotions under control before venturing into their social circles. When Fours disappear for too long, it’s important to check in: they can get bogged down in an endless cycle of self-reproach and, sometimes, depression. Being reminded that they are wanted and loved can help pull stressed Fours out of a downward spiral.

 

#4: They’re Contemplative

Fours are highly contemplative, probing their inner world for new perspectives and ideas. They’re constantly considering others’ feelings, motivations, and needs as they navigate their path through life.

Fours can make excellent listeners because of their thoughtfulness. They can also be counted on to bring a fresh perspective when solving problems. 

 

#5: They’re Emotionally Aware

While they dedicate a lot of time to understanding their own emotions, Fours are also attuned to the emotions of others. As gentle observers, Fours can read a room and put out feelers for signs of disharmony, sadness, or loneliness. 

An emotionally aware Four can even help others process their own tough emotions, and they make others feel safe to express how they truly feel—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

 

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In a relationship with an Enneagram Type 4? Here's what you need to know. 

 

Enneagram Type 4 in Relationships

In relationships, Fours are at their best when they have the freedom to express their creativity, intense feelings, sensuality, and spontaneity. These qualities can help a Four’s friends and romantic partners find their own creative passions, express their emotions, and see the humor and irony in the human experience. Above all, Fours will teach those close to them to value the power of self-reflection and to dedicate time to nurturing and exploring their inner worlds.

When Fours aren’t doing so well, they can be cryptic, moody, and emotionally unavailable. Fours under stress believe they aren’t worthy of love. This can lead Fours to push their friends and partners away in an effort to shield themselves to avoid what they perceive to be inevitable rejection. They may fear that if a friend or partner sees their flaws, they will no longer care for them. That’s why Fours sometimes avoid forming deep, authentic connections with others to shield themselves from pain.

In romantic relationships, Fours crave warmth, appreciation, and total acceptance. Because Fours can have outlandish ideas and an innate eccentricity, they also need partners who won’t flinch in the face of a little strangeness. Fours also pair well with partners who match their intensity and creativity, and they’re invigorated by the chance to probe all of life’s beautiful mysteries with a loved one.

While they may not realize it, Fours also need to surround themselves with people who can respond to their sometimes volatile emotions with tact and objectivity. Fours can benefit from friends and partners who balance out their creative impulses with practicality and follow-through. This personality type thrives when others add balance and stability to their lives. 

 

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Because Type Fours are creative and community oriented, they're great fits for careers in teaching, therapy, and nursing. 

 

Best Enneagram Type 4 Careers

Type 4 personalities are known for their creativity, innovative thinking, imagination, and emotional awareness. Because of these character traits, good choices for Enneagram Type 4 careers most likely include art, design, project management, or helping professions. 

Some of the best Enneagram Type 4 careers can be found in art and design. These creative fields give Fours the opportunity to be incredibly innovative and imaginative in their professional life. Fours will be fulfilled by making beautiful things that others will engage with. Jobs in graphic design, community theater and arts, museum curation, or writing may be a good fit for a Four. These career fields also often provide opportunities for freelance or gig work, which may appeal to a Four’s desire for freedom. 

Project management is a job that appears in many different sectors like business, education, engineering, and nonprofit work. Working as a project manager in any field gives Fours the chance to let their big picture vision shine. Project managers need to be able to think strategically and creatively about how to solve problems, connect people with one another, create content, and engineer programming that goes off without a hitch. The collaborative aspect of project management may suit Fours, who crave connection with other bright minds and visionaries. 

Finally, a career in a service-oriented job allows Fours to bring their intuitiveness, deep thinking skills, and emotional awareness to their professional life. Jobs like teaching, various forms of therapy, or nursing allow Fours to use their emotional connectivity and empathy to help others thrive. 

In some cases, the best Enneagram Type 4 careers may even allow this personality type to exercise multiple strengths. For instance, a Four might make an excellent creative writing teacher. This job would enable them to create alongside their students and connect with them as a mentor.

Jobs that require repetitive, monotonous tasks tend to make Fours feel isolated and unfulfilled. Highly administrative jobs that require Fours to enforce arbitrary rules or standards probably won’t suit a Four’s sense of individuality, either. 

Whatever career a Four chooses, it should be one that allows this Enneagram type to put their strengths and interests to use every day. Fours will be happiest in careers with optimistic, caring coworkers who recognize the goodness in Fours and want to see them shine.

 

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You might feel like you're not exactly a Type Four. That's okay! Every person has an Enneagram wing, which can help you better understand your personality! 

 

Enneagram Type 4 Wings

The Enneagram uses something called “wings” to help explain the nuances of each personality type. A “wing” refers to the tendency for each Enneagram personality type to mix characteristics with one of the two types adjacent to it on the Enneagram. 

For Type Fours, the wings are Type Three and Type Five. These are expressed as “four wing three,” abbreviated as 4w3, and “four wing five,” abbreviated as 4w5. We’ll explain what it means to be a 4w3 and 4w5 next.

 

Enneagram Type 4 Wing 3

Enneagram Type 4 Wing 3s are Fours who tend to exhibit some of the personality traits of Threes. In other words, a person who is a 4w3 is a unique mixture of their basic 4 personality type and some of their wing 3 personality type.

4w3s are likely more extroverted, sociable, and outgoing than a typical Type 4. Like a typical 3, 4w3s are highly motivated by the approval of others and may seek out opportunities to show off their talents to any admiring audience. 

This means that 4w3s may channel their creativity into grand accomplishments that will earn them praise and notoriety. While these behaviors may make 4w3s seem confident, they actually tend to fear rejection, like a typical Four. 4w3s may use their creative talents to garner achievements that validate their self-worth and earn love.

A 4w3 may be less likely to need lots of time to process their deepest, darkest feelings and insecurities than typical Fours. Threes tend to scoff at Fours’ obsession with emotions, so a 4w3 may not be as emotionally sensitive as typical Fours.

 

Enneagram Type 4 Wing 5

Enneagram Type 4 Wing 5s are true Fours who share some characteristics with Fives. While Four traits are ultimately dominant in this personality type, the Five wing will add some personality traits to the Type 4 in this combination.

4w5s are deep, introspective folk who tend to be withdrawn. Fours and Fives share a need to retreat from the world, but they focus on different things during their alone time. Fours are highly emotional and need to spend time alone to work through their feelings, but the added Five wing will motivate the 4w5 to retreat to analyze what they learn and observe. 

A 4w5 adopts the analytical nature of Fives, and they may use their creativity for intellectual or academic pursuits. Whereas Fours create things in search of the approval of others, 4w5s tend to be less sensitive to others’ opinions. Like true Fives, 4w5s create for their own satisfaction, and they don’t need external validation in order to believe that their ideas are valuable. 

4w5s value independence and autonomy and may reject opportunities to depend on the generosity of others. This personality type sees accepting help from others as creating debt, and 4w5s don’t want to owe anything to anyone. On top of that, 4w5s hate feeling vulnerable and inferior, so they will avoid depending on others—which they perceive as weakness—at all costs.

All in all, Enneagram Type 4 Wing 5s possess the creativity, independence, and originality of Fours, and those traits are magnified by the Five wing’s addition of analytical thinking and unconventionality. At their healthiest, 4w5s are creators who can inspire others to think outside the box and view the world from new perspectives.

 

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What's Next?

If you’re a Four, you may be interested in art school. Here are the best art schools in the United States.

But Four’s also love to explore! That’s why we also have a list of the top art schools from around the world.

Fours are also fascinated by human nature. If you’re a Four, don’t miss out on taking AP Psychology in school. (You’ll love it!)



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Ashley Robinson
About the Author

Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.



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