Fours: Telling People it's their Birthday

Yesterday at work, it was a Type 8 teacher's birthday.  Eights are famously direct and simple.  Some would say they have the most primitive psychic structure- it was probably the first to evolve.  They know what they want, and they go get it.  Theirs is a clear libidinal, gut energy.  There's no funny stuff going on like projecting hidden motives onto others, indirect emotional manipulation, wondering how their image is coming across, having anxiety about if they're doing the right thing or if they're going to hurt someone.  There is a straight line between A and B.  So when a dad brought in cupcakes for his son's birthday yesterday, and gave them to his son's Type 8 teacher, the teacher boomed, "Oh!  It's my birthday too!" and the well-wishes back and forth ensued.  Simple, direct, and the Type 8 teacher walked back to class happy and probably forgot the encounter within 2 seconds.

Contrast this with indirect, secretive Fours who have all kinds of complicated culicues going on around getting attention on their birthdays- it has to be "the right kind" of attention, and they want it to mean something.  Ideally, the person wishing them a happy birthday should be someone who recognizes them for who they truly are, but not the deficiencies they're ashamed about- they should be supportive of the Four's self-image, an elegant, romantic, and cultured fantasy self that has been carefully spun during hours of time alone with their imagination (where they were probably avoiding doing the concrete things that would actually turn them into a successful version of their fantasy self).  Presenting a highly aesthetic and refined image to others, they reject themselves by directing attention to who they wish they could be. 

In their book, Personality Types, Don Riso and Russ Hudson explain their coyness like this:

Fours do not go out of their way to meet others; rather, they secretly want people to seek them out.  They project an aura of silence and aloofness, hoping that someone will notice them and take the trouble to approach them.  While others may think that they are mysterious, or perhaps profound, Fours [at Level 5] are simply attempting to disguise their growing emotional vulnerabilities behind the protective haze of exotic mystery.

Fours will be enigmatic about their special day because, while they're lonely, they still need to play hard to get.  According to Riso and Hudson, being high maintenance allows them to evaulate "how much they mean to others by how willing [they are] to tolerate their emotional ups and downs and their neediness."   By that standard, Facebook has permanently ruined birthdays for Fours.  When everything has to be deep and meaningful, how artificial is it to rely on a platform as contrived as Facebook which has a code embedded in its computer system that automatically sends out reminders to everyone's friends, regardless of how unique or refined you are, blasting Fours with the cold air of a stranger's or former colleague's happy birthday wish that hasn't been processed through the relational strainer that teaches people to respect the Four's emotional delicacy.  Not only are these so-called friends walking all over the emotional eggshells Fours lay down, they don't even know they're doing it!  They don't even know there ARE eggshells!  Rather than allowing Fours to be coy about their special day, Facebook has shoved them under the glaring light that threatens to unravel the very cornerstone of their identity- the belief that they are cut off from the group and nobody cares.

As long as Fours withdraw from participation in life to punish those who don't recognize and respect their specialness, their fantasy self, and the delicacy of their emotional world, their world will shrink in painful ways, like having their birthday forgotten.  But if they can begin to disidentify with their shadow self, and stop curating their life experiences, they can find joy in relating to others at various depths; the surface is usually where a deep relationship begins anyway.  To truly receive a happy birthday wish from someone who doesn't know or care about their hidden complexes requires a maturity and a willingness to sit with the vulnerability that comes up when they realize they "have made the worst and most crippling aspects of their self-image into the whole truth of who they are" (Riso and Hudson, 1996), and they need discipline to bring their fantasy self to bear in the world, or they have nothing substantial to base their identity on.