What’s the Enneagram, and what are we talking about when we say type FOUR? Check out our Enneagram Types on Vacation post and our Enneagram Resources page to learn what the Enneagram is and why we think it’s helpful when applied to travel.
People don’t fit in boxes
One of the major arguments against personality typing systems I have heard is that people are so multi-faceted; how can a personality type define all of the subtleties of an individual?
We have been amazed at how extensive the Enneagram is. While you can dabble and learn a great deal of helpful information, you can also do a deep dive and still not touch the bottom.
We would never want to put anyone in a box or say that we completely understand another human being because we will never be able to experience how another brain works.
We’ve found the Enneagram to be extremely helpful in articulating how we’re motivated and learning how to relate to each other as we travel together.
Who is type FOUR
At their best, a type FOUR is creative, and they can hold others’ emotions (both joyful and sorrowful) and their own; they are good listeners and empathizers. They deeply love the atmosphere and bringing all the senses into play when doing anything. They have a rich inner thought life.
FOURS are passionate, desiring others to meet them at their level of intensity in feeling, appreciating beauty, and in the richness of their inner thought life.
FOURS crave ideal circumstances.
They live with a nagging sense that they lack something that everyone else has in themselves. This often leads to feelings of envy as they compare themselves to others.
“With your [FOURS] creativity, imagination, and authentic self-expression, you [FOURS] are an amazing gift to the world.”Becoming Us
By Beth McCord and Jeff McCord
An unhealthy FOUR can be moody, withdrawn, self-centered, and dramatic. In unhealth, they cannot see others’ needs and focus on their emotions.
To better understand FOURS, use our Favorite Enneagram Resources to Help You Learn the Enneagram.
Enneagram type FOUR is often called…
The Romantic. The Individualist. The Aesthetic. The Melancholic. The Special One.
“While it is true that FOURs often feel different from others, they do not really want to be alone. They may feel socially awkward or self-conscious, but they deeply wish to connect with people who understand them and their feelings. The “romantics” of the enneagram, they long for someone to come into their lives and appreciate the secret self that they have privately nurtured and hidden from the world.”The Wisdom of the Enneagram
Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson
Of having no identity. Of having no personal significance. Of being inadequate.
“Seek out truthful friends who will mirror you honestly and accurately. Find people who can see your genuine good qualities and talents and support you in their development – as well as speak compassionately, but directly, to you about your blind spots.”The Wisdom of the Enneagram
Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson
To find themselves and their significance, to create an identity out of their inner experience.
To be unique and special and to live authentically.
Ability to sit in longing and desire without acting on it.
Ability to see and hold both despair and joy in this world.
They can become self-absorbed in the process of trying to discover who they are.
Deadly sin or passion
The feeling that something fundamental is missing in themselves. Feeling that others possess something that they lack. Longing for what they perceive is absent, and often unable to see the blessings they do have.
Enneagram type FOUR strengths
Creativity. FOURS are very aesthetic people. They desire to take on the world and experience it to the fullness of all their senses. They see details that most others miss.
FOURS have a rich internal world. They can also experience a wide range of emotions, much more extensively than many other Enneagram numbers.
FOURS bring depth to life, a keen awareness of what is aesthetically pleasing, and an ability to express themselves clearly. They can go deep into feelings to discover a richness of meaning in life. They can put thoughts and feelings into words, lyrics, musical riffs, art, and many other creative expressions that connect and help others relate.
FOURS desire authenticity in themselves and often from others. They have a deep desire or longing for the richness and intensity of their inner world to resemble the world around them.
Due to their deep emotions and ability to sit in melancholy, FOURS have a fantastic capacity to sit with others in pain. FOURS have an intuition about others’ feelings and can act on that knowledge to support others with authentic empathy.
Enneagram type FOUR struggles
FOURS basic fear is that they are in some way inadequate. This leads to their deadly sin, envy, and feeling they lack something that everyone else has. They desire that “something.” This leads FOURS to struggle with a negative self-image. They often have chronic low self-esteem.
“The pitfall of FOURs is their melancholy, a “sweet sadness” that lies over their whole lives like a fog. FOURS have to be depressed and suffer from time to time in order to be happy.”The Wisdom of the Enneagram
Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson
Because FOURS are comfortable with feelings of melancholy, their feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, and others not meeting their emotional intensity can cause them to shut down and withdraw into their inner self. Self-centeredness can easily be walked into if the FOUR continues in self-pity and does not gain perspective.
Leveraging type FOUR strengths and struggles in travel
Awareness of our strengths and struggles is often half the battle to address them. When we know what we’re good at and weak in, it’s easier to work in a team, seek help, or leverage what we know about ourselves to improve our circumstances.
Type FOURS make good travel companions. They know how to experience the world for all its worth. They are natural at seeing and meeting others’ needs. They will be on the lookout for the most beautiful, authentic experiences as they travel and happily invite their travel companions to join in.
FOURS can make an occasion overflow with abundance and depth. They love the atmosphere and experiencing life with all their senses.
“You [FOURS] embrace a wide range of emotions and experiences, and with your knack for self-expression, you bring a unique aesthetic, depth and creativity to any event or situation.”Becoming Us
By Beth McCord and Jeff McCord
FOURS are great travel companions because they will pursue the richest experiences and activities. They are also instinctively able to identify others’ needs. Giving them the ability to plan and travel well with others can maintain a balance of needs in the group.
Similar aspects of the general struggles FOURS face in everyday life also apply to travel.
FOURS may withdraw if they don’t feel their needs are being considered. It is easy for a FOUR to become self-focused and manipulate others to pursue them by withdrawing emotionally. They do this out of a desire to be rescued, which is very confusing to others, like approaching a porcupine that wants to be friends but forgets to lower its quills.
They can become very moody. Or, on the flip side, desire an intensity of experience and intensity with others that others don’t meet – leading to more feelings of not being understood.
Type FOUR and vacation
What does vacation mean for type FOUR?
Vacation for a FOUR is an opportunity to pursue beauty and creativity, not just in what they do but in the place they go.
The more intense the senses come into play, the more a FOUR enjoys themselves.
Being able to get away from the mundaneness of daily life and live in a more authentic and “real” way is valuable to a FOUR.
What is the ideal vacation for type FOUR?
Going somewhere new, beautiful, and full of diversity draws a FOUR. They are often inspired to visit a place by the inspiration of social media, reading blog posts, and seeing photos of the location.
A vacation might be a combination of adventure activities and time to rest and relax.
Traveling relationally for type FOUR
It’s challenging when you get more than one personality in a room together. Add a few more characters (aka a family), and then send them off on a trip somewhere unfamiliar and out of routine. You have a potentially messy situation on your hands.
Becoming emotionally aware of yourself will help you communicate your wants and needs to others and open them to the same.
One time I heard a speaker say, “expectations ruin relationships.” It’s very real in traveling that un-communicated expectations can cause a lot of conflicts.
FOURS traveling with others
True for everyone is that others do not think the same way as you.
Unless you’ve talked through things, you won’t be on the same page as your travel buddies.
When traveling with others, it is valuable for the FOUR to communicate their needs and expectations. Expecting others to figure out what you need will cause conflict and frustration as others are not always on the lookout to defend the FOURS needs and desires.
The first step to a successful trip is understanding your travel companion’s motivations. What is the purpose of the trip? What are they expecting from this trip? What are their priorities?
Asking defining questions like those above and honestly answering them will help both the FOUR and those traveling with the FOUR establish intentions and expectations for a trip.
Traveling with a FOUR
Be aware that the FOUR you are traveling with struggles with a constant battle of feeling like they lack something everyone else has. They are fighting an insecurity battle that can cause them to withdraw, be emotionally short, and often moody.
While this can be highly frustrating and enraging for many other numbers, the best way to get a FOUR to work as a team is to seek them out and clarify what they feel their needs are. Remind them you care and that they have value.
Be aware that they desire emotional intensity, and they want others to meet them in that. This applies to travel experiences, vacations, and other aspects of life. They are probably asking themselves, “how can this be the best experience, and how can I enjoy it the most?”
Type FOUR and traveling the world
Skills for type FOUR tool belt: improve travel experiences
Skill 1: Embrace the mundane
There are many times on vacation or while traveling when things are going to be slow and may feel like a waste of time – sitting on an airplane, driving in the car, standing in line, waiting for other travel companions to get ready in the morning, getting a bad meal at a restaurant.
Learning to rest in these times without totally withdrawing and disconnecting from your travel companions can lead to great opportunities for conversation.
Share about what you’ve enjoyed thus far and what you hope to do next—or listening to how your companions are doing emotionally. Use the time to both share and listen.
Skill 2: Communicate before withdrawing
Try to catch yourself from withdrawing when you feel your needs aren’t being considered by speaking up for yourself. Communicate that you have something you’d like to do, see, or maybe you want to rest.
Letting your travel companions know will avoid trying to figure out what’s wrong with you later.
Skill 3: Keep a journal
Keep a travel journal to store your thoughts, feelings, and experiences of a place.
You can also use this to store and filter through the many stories you tell yourself throughout the day of how others relate with you, how you feel, and what you did like and didn’t like.
Often writing things out can clarify what you perceived others were thinking of you and what they were thinking of you.
Here’s what a type FOUR said…
Interview #1: Emilee Null
See Emilee on Instagram @emeelouwho
What is your favorite part about traveling?
The trip itself is my favorite part of traveling. I really enjoy the novelty of being in a new place and trying new things.
What do you think vacation means to your number?
A vacation to FOURS, at least for me, means spending time away from the things that drag us down and make us feel bad. We’re all about our feelings, so on vacation, we just want to focus on having a good time and feeling happy.
What is something you struggle with when traveling?
When traveling, I tend to want to eat at the very best restaurants and experience ALL the things that the locale has to offer because it is likely I won’t be back for quite some time. I struggle with overthinking those details and worrying about if there is a better option out there.
What is something you think FOURS struggle with when traveling?
I think Enneagram FOURS struggle with wanting the very best experience possible. We love being unique and experiencing life to its fullest. That can sometimes lead to discontent if things don’t go exactly the way that we planned them and feeling like we’re missing out on the best experience we could possibly have.
What is your biggest hurdle when preparing for a trip?
I cannot stand managing the minutiae of traveling. Thankfully my partner is a FIVE and loves to dig into the details, but it infuriates me researching the best place to stay, comparing flight costs, managing car rentals, etc. I just want to show up and have a lovely experience.
How do you go through the process of choosing where to travel?
This is such a FOUR answer, but I decide where to go *mostly* based on the visual appeal. If I see a beautiful place on social media, I will save it and add it to my ever-growing bucket list of places to go.
How often would you travel if you didn’t have work or budget restraints?
If work and budgets were not a constraint, I would travel 75% of the year.
How often do you think your number would travel?
As much as FOURS loves to be unique and feel inspired, I think you would be hard-pressed to find a FOUR who doesn’t love to travel regularly.
The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile
The Path Between Us by Suzanne Stabile