My daughter and I have observed that many people, on discovering their Enneagram type, sink into it like a warm bath, as if they finally know that the way they experience the world and express themselves in it is valid. I’m Okay, You’re Okay. Or, maybe it’s in knowing that they are, in a way, part of a set of people that would understand them, to which they in a sense belong. These people are out there somewhere waiting to be discovered, in their own extended family, book club, work place, regular coffee shop, in nonrandom places all over the world throughout history.
Because one of the problems with diversity, as essential for the survival and well being of community as it is,– neurodiversity overlaid by diverse patterns of nurture and experience, is that we all, in some sense, are living in a different “language,” and are unique, like snowflakes. That can be lonely. Most of us, except for sociopaths, make constant and minute efforts to adjust our communications to meet others part way, leaning into norms of acceptable discourse as best we understand them. In the process, we create understanding that would not otherwise have existed, sometimes surprising ourselves in the process. This takes practice–something that comes home to me every time I am too little connected with others and those social skills slide, feel more outside than usual. Just like what happens to the body without regular exercise, we can get weaker, less flexible, and more limited in our energy for social interaction, and gravitate toward easier relationships. I am on the introvert side, so I don’t want lots of close interaction in general, but a combination of infrequently deep interactions (which can include a good book), and friendly but less personal connections (greetings along a walking trail, coffee shop banter, joking in staff meetings) keep me in enough practice most of the time.
We also, in the process of these social interactions, become more like one another in some ways. This socialization of priorities and traditions allows us to get along within our communities on the one hand, and go to battle with other communities with a clear conscience and/or righteous indignation, on the other. All social species have evolved instinctive behaviors to socialize the young and continually socialize one another, pushing for a certain degree of conformity for the good of the community. But genetic and epigenetic diversity comprise a fail-safe system to counter the extremes that may result.
Social scientists try to step outside of this system in order to describe it more “objectively,” and maybe to figure out why they often don’t feel like they easily fit into the system they describe. A perfect fit would mean the system would be invisible to oneself, like water to a fish. Water of a perfect salinity, temperature, pressure, I mean. Fishes do notice water when any of these changes and cause a challenge to their equilibrium, so that they can make behavioral and physiological adjustments, aiming for homeostasis.