If you’re an Enneagram Type 4, you’re all about standing out. When it comes to your career, a day job might not fulfill you unless it’s a creative, uncommon job that sets you aside from others. But whether a Type 4 has carved out a unique career path for themself or is working in a more common occupation, they’ll experience some trials.

Here are some relatable career struggles you’ll recognize if you’re an Enneagram Type 4.

1. When you don’t feel you’re meeting your creative potential

Enneagram Type 4s are creative, unique individuals who strive to reach their artistic potential. Because of your need to feel different from others, you focus on what sets yourself apart, which often manifests in your creative skills. Whether you’re an Enneagram Type 4 who prefers painting, writing, singing, or sculpting, you may have a job that uses some of your skills but doesn’t employ enough expertise. 

A good illustration is a Type 4 working in technical writing. While you might thrive writing creatively, a technical writing position can feel too dry. This job may feel like it’s a good match because it utilizes your creative skills, but when it comes down to it, you’ll feel bored and overqualified. You’d rather do a job that offers more creative license and gives you a more flexible use of language.

If this sounds like you, try to find a job that better suits you or ask your boss if you can try a more creative approach to the work you already do.

2. When emotional scenarios and drama wear you out

If you’re an Enneagram Type 4, you’re emotional and embrace the mood swings that life brings you—but not the bad ones. If you’re working in a job that imparts too much negativity into your outlook, you will feel worn out and jaded. The negativity may come from the job duties themselves, like in difficult professions like police work or security, or perhaps your workplace is full of too much drama from an overreactive boss. A Type 4 can learn to let some of the negative vibes roll off their shoulders. However, it can be hard to overcome when a job takes a toll on your outlook and morale.

The best thing you can do in this case is to avoid the drama if you aren’t able to make a career change anytime soon. Detach yourself from the negative energy and remember that you’re there to work. Whatever goes down behind-the-scenes doesn’t have to rule your mood.

3. When you don’t value your work

It’s easy for a Type 4 to feel undervalued at work when they aren’t expressing themselves in their career. But what’s worse than being undervalued is feeling like your job is meaningless. Type 4s get their value from feeling unique and contributing to an art form that expresses what it means to be human. That means your love for analyzing the human condition and emotions pushes you forward, but some professions don’t echo your ideals. 

Jobs that a Type 4 doesn’t value may include raw-data positions like accounting or bookkeeping or career paths such as restaurant work or retail. Because you want people to recognize you for your contributions to humanity, positions that don’t have a direct impact or artistic outlet will feel unsatisfying and unfulfilling. 

Type 4s need to feel value in their work, so if you’re struggling with this, you may want to consider making a career transition. Find a path that feels more meaningful to you. If you can’t do so, try to find meaning in the small things.

4. When you don’t feel recognized or appreciated

Type 4s won’t admit that they thrive on praise or recognition, but they need to feel valued to be happy. Because your worst fear is that you’re inherently flawed and incapable of being happy like others, you place a heavy focus on your work and creative projects. Even if your job isn’t your dream position, you want to receive some good feedback from your boss and feel valued. When you don’t feel appreciated, you start to question your worth in the company and may even consider quitting to find a new boss who does appreciate your work. 

How do you fix this? You may want to try sitting down with your boss and having a conversation about your work. Is there something you could do better? Or are they just not big on giving compliments?

5. When your work schedule is too limiting

“The Individualist” needs a sense of autonomy and isn’t always the best candidate for the 40-hour workweek. You might love your full-time job, and in that case, a full schedule isn’t so bad. But there’s a limit to Type 4’s happiness at work. If a job tends to overwhelm you, rob you of your energy, or go past the typical full-time schedule into 60- to 80-hour workweeks, you’ll dread going to work because you don’t have enough downtime to pursue your own creative outlets. 

With their need for autonomy and their thirst for creation on the back burner, a Type 4 will feel overwhelmed and stressed if a job schedule doesn’t allow them time to do their own thing.  

A limiting schedule can be a burden for a Type 4, but it isn’t the easiest problem to fix. You can talk to your boss in hopes to scale back your hours or make your free time more intentional. Pencil in some time (even if you don’t want to) to engage in your creative, de-stressing activities. It might be an adjustment, but even ten minutes can help.

6. When all of your co-workers are inauthentic  

Type 4s pride themselves on authenticity and expect the same respect from others. Although your reserved nature doesn’t make it easy to get to know you, you open up to those you care about, and will never lie about who you are. But the easiest way people deter a Type 4 from building a good working relationship is when they prove they’re inauthentic.

As a Type 4 who spent plenty of time working in restaurants at a younger age, I had a difficult time feeling like I fit in. I was reserved, quiet, and sensitive, and there were several people who put on masks. Many workers were two-faced and dishonest, and tried hard pretending they were friends with everyone when they were not. As a result of discovering co-workers’ lack of authenticity, I withdrew more and revealed very little about my life outside of work.

Unless you want to talk it out with your co-workers, you may want to remain an island if you don’t trust them to be open and honest. If you’re feeling like you’ve misjudged them, try scheduling an employee bonding activity outside of work to get to know them.

7. When your boss is overbearing, unkind, and unapproachable

You like to work in an atmosphere that yields and nurtures your creative spirit, so when you have a difficult boss, it can be detrimental to your mood in the workplace. You want to be able to approach your boss with new ideas and be heard, but when they are unreceptive, it will wear on you over time. 

In this scenario, a Type 4 may have a hard time keeping their position if their boss doesn’t learn how to be a better leader. You may want to discuss the issue with your boss if you think they’ll be receptive.

Summing it up

Enneagram Type 4s will experience some or all of these common career struggles in their lives, but some of them are more easily avoided than others. The most important thing a Type 4 can do is to find a career that fulfills them and work toward developing good relationships in their field. If that isn’t possible for you right now, try to set aside some time to destress. Remind yourself that your life is more than your job, and you can find real solutions to the problems.

Cianna Garrison
Cianna Garrison holds a B.A. in English from Arizona State University and works as a freelance writer. She fell in love with psychology and personality type theory back in 2011. Since then, she has enjoyed continually learning about the 16 personality types. As an INFJ, she lives for the creative arts, and even when she isn’t working, she’s probably still writing.