The 9 Enneagram Personality Types as Children’s Books Series: Type 5 as Someday NarwhalPosted: September 20, 2020
Enneagram Type 5: The Investigator = Someday Narwhal
Type 5: “The Intense, Cerebral Type: Perceptive, Innovative, Secretive, and Isolated” as defined by the Enneagram Institute.
What a day to be a 5! My choice for best example of “The Investigator” in motion, is Someday Narwhal, written by Lisa Mantchev, and illustrated by Hyewon Yum. Even the cover art has 5 written all over it. What environment is more confining than a narwhal in a fishbowl? Narwhal, as she is so named, immediately conveys a sense of isolation and solitude. She displays a preoccupation with observing and describing the space outside her fishbowl, reciting (and repeating), “Red front door. Potted plant. Umbrella stand. Piano.” This fulfills the FIVE‘s key motivations, in that FIVEs, “want to possess knowledge, to understand the environment, to have everything figured out as a way of defending the self from threats from the environment,”-the Enneagram Institute. Narwhal is curious about what could be beyond her bowl, but her interest is only exceeded by her anxiety of the unknown and the negative possibilities that may outweigh the positives.
“Fives are alert, insightful, and curious. They are able to concentrate and focus on developing complex ideas and skills. Independent, innovative, and inventive, they can also become preoccupied with their thoughts and imaginary constructs. They become detached, yet high-strung and intense.” -the Enneagram Institute
Narwhal’s little boy worries that she may be bored and dissatisfied with monotonous days in her fishbowl, so he invites some pals over to mix it up. The animal friends suggest an outing for Narwhal, a day she can spend seeing the world outside. Narwhal is immediately skeptical of this suggestion; she comes up with reasons that this outing may be a logistical nightmare: bad weather, her lack of feet, she doesn’t know her way around….
“For better or worse, the areas that Fives explore do not depend on social validation; indeed, if others agree with their ideas too readily, Fives tend to fear that their ideas might be too conventional.” -the Enneagram Institute
Narwhal’s preoccupation with memorizing, and thus controlling the details of her environment, is what makes her feel competent and secure. The thought of experiencing an unknown environment leaves her feeling vulnerable and unprepared. This is a common pattern of thought, informing behavior in FIVEs.
“They want to retain everything that they have learned and “carry it around in their heads.” The problem is that while they are engrossed in this process, they are not interacting with others or even increasing many other practical and social skills. They devote more and more time to collecting and attending to their collections, less to anything related to their real needs.” -the Enneagram Institute
The animal pals all offer to assist Narwhal in her outing, but most importantly let her take the lead from the information standpoint, counting on her to memorize the street names, thus fulfilling her basic 5 desire to be capable and competent. This is a step toward healthy balance in the life of this 5. Encouraging her to use her knowledge and talents to prepare for the outing, and to implement her skills during the adventure. This will assuage her basic 5 fear of being useless, helpless, or incapable.
The outing goes swimmingly (pun intended), and Narwhal thoroughly enjoys her trip outside of her home, taking in the city streets, big blue sky, colorful, memorable, exciting places and people.
“Thus, the challenge to Fives is to understand that they can pursue whatever questions or problems spark their imaginations and maintain relationships, take proper care of themselves, and do all of the things that are the hallmarks of a healthy life.” -the Enneagram Institute
Narwhal certainly meets this challenge, and exceeds her own expectations. She properly prepares, then eagerly explores, accepts assistance, and gathers, gains new experience, and therefore, knowledge. Now she will feel much more at home, outside of hers. More importantly, she is now surrounded, not by a confining environment, but by a group of considerate and understanding friends. Someday Narwhal is a wonderful lesson about conquering fears, but especially to fellow 5s, that striking a healthy life balance can happen when they make “someday” today! To learn more about being a Five, and the Enneagram in general, head to the the Enneagram Institute and pick up a curbside, or in (masked) person, copy of Someday Narwhal from Book People!