Sometimes I feel like the rarest of unicorns. Weird. Quirky. A downright enigma. Sometimes I feel like a charging herd of rhinos. Too much of me to contain in one body.
Such is the paradox of an Enneagram Eight. Now add in the “female” component, and I might as well have a tattoo on my forehead that reads: Walking Contradiction.
But I would embrace that. I love tattoos.
I’ve heard it speculated that a female eight is the most misunderstood type on the Enneagram, and call me biased—but I can attest there might be some accuracy to this claim.
The traits indicative of an eight personality are often the same traits our culture has branded unfeminine.
Aggressive. Outspoken. Intense. Combustible. An eight is all fire and fervor and fight. Energy and activity, tenacity and urgency. A passion for justice, a lust for extremes, an impulse for anger, a need for control.
Ahhh control. We can’t discuss this Enneagram number without using the “c-word.” Eights are motivated by a desire to control their own environments, relationships, circumstances and decisions.
They challenge norms with a steely persistence and rugged independence. They turn combative when that illusion of control is shattered, but it’s a reaction to vulnerability—something no eight wants to acknowledge. They fear being overpowered, so they micro-manage out of desperation just to keep themselves safe.
Eights appear dauntless and tough, poised for a feverish scuffle or fanatical debate at a moment’s notice. This wild, untamed presence sizzles through each atom of their bodies, making it seem like no fear can break them down.
But I assure you, that is not reality.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The female eight knows she doesn’t belong—not in the socially acceptable sense anyway. She instructs herself, “Fine. No sweat. I’ll just be a nonconformist then.” But somewhere in her depths, she feels the rejection and exclusion. She has a name for this, and it’s what her nightmares are made of. Betrayal.
She’s caught in the tension of longing to be part of the same institutions she defies. It’s isolating territory, but it’s also where she lives.
She perceives herself as an underdog, a crusader for the marginalized. She brims with such conviction that others find her intimidating. She is an acquired taste—and trust me, she’s all too aware.
Her universe is one of extremes. Too loud. Too quiet. Too brittle. Too fragile. Too opinionated. Too indifferent. Too emotional. Too stoic. Too invested. Too distant.
Too much. Just. Too. Much.
I am proud to be a female eight, a member of this beatnik tribe. But we eights have a dark side—an underbelly where our passion becomes antagonism, and our control becomes manipulation. We’ll browbeat. We’ll dominate. Because we can’t admit we’re scared. We’d rather be alone than love and be rejected.
But that’s another paradox—we do love. And we love hard. Once you’ve gained the trust and loyalty of an eight, I guarantee it’s for life. We rally for our people. We notice their potential. We believe in their impact. We’re not afraid to champion their cause before we’re even asked.
We know there’s electric power in our bones, and we ache for it to change the world. Because we love. If only we dropped our defenses long enough to accept love in return.
If you encountered me for the first time, I wouldn’t strike you as a powerhouse. I would strike you as small. But interact with me awhile, and I suspect you’ll wonder, “How does all that intensity exist in this 4’11” body?” To which I just smirk and shrug. It’s nothing I haven’t questioned myself. I’m a rhino-unicorn, remember?
This is how an eight operates—and it rarely makes sense.
A friend of mine jokes that she can gauge when I enter a room because my footsteps are loud. Emphatic. Purposeful. Not unlike the rest of me. And that’s Enneagram Eight-ness for you. A wildfire on the move with no intentions of slowing down.
Culture will not define me. Society will not restrain me. Stereotypes will not cheapen me.
So I’ll create the drum.
I’ll invent the rhythm.
Then I’ll march off-beat.
And if you’re reading this, chances are I love you—so reassure me that it’s better if we march together. I forget sometimes.