Exploring Enneagram:: What It’s Like Being a Three

This year, our Houston Moms writers will be giving you first-hand accounts of life behind their Enneagram type. For an introduction to the Enneagram, see this post, and then read on as Kirsten shares her experience of living as an Enneagram Three. 

Honestly, DJ Khaled said it best. “All I do is win, win, win no matter what.” Drop mic. We out. That’s Enneagram Three—essentially.

Let’s talk a little about typecasting. I have been mistaken {on multiple occasions} for a seven. There is nothing wrong with being a seven. They’re delightful, optimistic, versatile, spontaneous creatures. But I, my dear, am not those things.

In fact, if I do not vacation with a semi-firm itinerary in advance, I may be in the infirmary for hives.

But here’s why. The excited, enthusiastic cheerleader I am to you on the outside, is not my internal monologue. Underneath the toothy smile and fervent {albeit genuine} support, is someone who is, deep down, seeking approval and reassurance.

Driven to Achieve

Type Three is appropriately named “the Achiever.” When people are saying nice things about us, we are charming, driven, and poised. When we push it a little too far, we are accused of being overly image-conscious, bossy, and competitive. {You say that like it’s a bad thing?} It’s true. I don’t throw the domino game for my 5-year-old nephew and I no longer choose my spouse to be on my team because he is a handicap.

Ever since I was a kid, I craved medals, trophies, ribbons…anything I could display on my wall that would prove I was the best at something. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested in trying new things, but if the natural ability wasn’t there, I wasn’t necessarily interested either. Just un-enroll me now because I am not doing this. {My parents learned the hard way with soccer.} I had shelves of trophies and tiaras. My mother had a setup in the dining room displaying our hard-earned wins. {Yes. The dining room, it was the largest shelf. Try to keep up.}

I learned at a young age, accolades equal praise—and I never forgot it.

Connecting With Threes

Have you ever looked up a “hierarchy of needs” for enneagrams? Do you know the base of an Enneagram three pyramid? Coffee. That’s it! And it’s accurate. There’s a burning desire to keep it moving, keep the calendar filled. We are perpetually exhausted…but also, can’t stay still and struggle to know what to give up for fear of it being misconstrued as weakness.

We take pride in looking like we have it all together. Balancing work, spin class, kid’s science project, organizing a blood drive, editing a blog, dog’s grooming appointment, organizing a space mission—and that was just Tuesday. Let you in on a secret? We’re just a hot mess like anyone else, we just tend to hide it better than most.

For the most part, I love being an Enneagram three. Mostly because I don’t know how to be anything else.

I am ambitious and energetic. I have big goals and will find the most efficient way to accomplish them. I do everything at full speed and take immense pride in my work—paid or volunteer. I am forever the cheerleader and get immense joy out of encouraging others. I love coming up with ideas and seeing them through. In the workplace, threes are great employees because we pride ourselves on hitting targets and being productive.

I have always had a natural ability to connect with others. My parents used to joke that I could make friends with a fence post. I am not counted among the majority of the population that fears public speaking.

The limelight was invented for threes.

The Other Side

But, there’s an underbelly to driven. When I’m in my head; when I’m unhealthy or my environment is, it’s easy to let extremes take over. I have strung myself until there is nothing left striving for approval. Just one more kudos to put in my tank.

On every Facebook quiz I’ve ever taken, the answer is always the same, “biggest fear:: failure.” A classic plight of the threes. It can be paralyzing at times, keeping you from even trying for fear that you won’t succeed.

Threes will be your biggest advocate, but they are hard to get to really know. We are skilled at discerning other people’s feelings and can drill down to the root of the conversation, but aren’t quick to volunteer our feelings. Keeping my inner thoughts where they “belong” is a skill I’ve mastered most of my life.

Confrontation is not a friend of the threes. We often go to lengthy measures to avoid it. Even after we have the “tough talk,” we try to glitter it up and follow it up with a lovey message just so it isn’t misunderstood. If the criticism is pointed toward us, well, just prepare for the inevitable spiral.

Apologies if we come across as impatient or dismissive—we don’t mean to be. It’s just that we have a lot of pots on the stove and we don’t want you messing with any of them unless we are one thousand percent confident in your abilities. {Sorry, not sorry.}

Your Type

Maybe you identified with being a three, maybe it wasn’t quite your fit. Totally okay. But you should figure out your number! There’s a breadth of knowledge to be discovered with Enneagram and lends to some healthy discussions around strengths and growth areas.

Here are some sites to access more information and tests::

*Houston Moms does not endorse nor guarantee the accuracy of any Enneagram test.

Stick with us for the rest of the Enneagram series and we explore all nine types!

Famous Threes
Muhammed Ali
Truman Capote
Oprah Winfrey
Barbara Streisand
Prince William
Jon Bon Jovi
Taylor Swift
Courtney Cox
Reese Witherspoon
Andy Warhol


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Kirsten C
Kirsten C. was born and raised in Texas Hill Country. After becoming a hopelessly devoted Bobcat and earning a degree in Mass Communications-Public Relations at Texas State University, she was wooed by the never-ending culinary options and vibrant street art of Houston and became a transplant. By day she is a marketing enthusiast for a downtown engineering firm, and by night, an over-the-top {and unashamed} dog mom. She and her husband William are licensed foster parents—advocating for children and families—who hope to one day grow their family through adoption. You can follow their unruly journey on their blog, Cornell Chaos. When she’s not trying a new restaurant, playing behind the lens of a Cannon, piddling in the yard, or scouring markets for hidden gems, Kirsten is often found teaching student ministry through Kingsland Baptist Church or escaping at a local coffee spot.


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