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The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
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The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Pop Culture Psych: How Pete Davidson’s failures are his success

How can a comic with mommy issues be so successful? Well, we’ve looked into Pete Davidson’s mind and found a thing or two about how you can succeed amidst emotional turmoil.
Alexa White
What is Pete Davidson’s enneagram type? What can it teach us about self-awareness?

A 28-year-old mom-loving stand-up comic has proved to America that one can succeed in spite of mental health issues. Yes, I’m talking about Pete Davidson. 

I’ve looked into it, and now I can tell you what I suspect in the wiring of Pete’s brain has made the former drug user with too much game suddenly relevant, and—perplexingly—left countless women swooning. 

From Staten Island to SNL

Pete got his start in comedy at age 16 when his friends dared him to do a stand-up act in a bowling alley. He later dropped out of college to pursue comedy full time, and starred consistently in New York City comedy clubs. 

Later becoming the youngest member of Saturday Night Live (SNL), he owes his success to a simple trick: staying in the comedy club for hours to network even if he was only performing for a few minutes. So Syncd concluded that Pete’s personality type is an Enneagram type 7, which likely played a huge role in his climb from being a Staten Island college dropout to stellar comedian. 

“Half of the stuff that I’ve ever gotten has just been [from being in the] right place [at the right] time,” he said in an interview with Cheat Sheet. “Sometimes you’re just hanging out [at the club] and Dave Chappelle pops in.”

Enneagram 7s like Pete suppress their fear and seek constant pleasure and stimulation to avoid the painful moments of life. This may look like constantly partying and drinking, joining every student organization in college or pursuing a humorous and intensely social career like comedy. Staying in the club for hours likely came naturally to him, and was far less painful than going back to a quiet and contemplative apartment. 

Davidson, whose father died in 9/11 when he was only seven, probably resorts to comedy to escape the fears of his childhood. In a recent interview he attributed his new comedy-drama King of Staten Island for helping him open up about his struggles and process this loss. 

Davidson’s Enneagram ‘subtype’ likely also supplemented his path to the top on MTV comedy shows and eventually SNL. There are three Enneagram ‘subtypes’ under each primary type, each based on a basic human instinct that is exaggerated in a person. I’d argue that Pete is the ‘transmitting’ subtype, or one that strives to attract attention and leave a legacy in the world. 

“Transmitting” subtypes are like braggadocious peacocks spreading their feathers—they “transmit” attractive “signals” in the form of statements, clothing, and behavior. Once they attract attention, they lure people into one-on-one relationships where they can make them feel special. This makes Davidson particularly good at drawing women in with his humor or networking at comedy clubs, activities where the greatest returns are conferred to those who foster one-on-one connections. 

This also may explain why he is so close with his mom.

So, why does every woman want Pete Davidson? 

Sevens on the Enneagram are known for their chaotic allure: they are constantly on the go and trying to stay happy. Consider Pete Davidson’s Netflix comedy special and upcoming film The King of Staten Island: his energy and apparent happiness attract women from all corners of the tabloids. 

However, Davidson’s scatter-brainedness also affects his ability to commit (as you may have noticed). Sevens fear stagnancy and enjoy getting to know people and being challenged, and as a result may enjoy the process of dating more than the resolution of a single relationship. 

When Cazzie David spoke of her breakup with Davidson in 2018, she revealed that he went public with a new girlfriend (Ariana Grande) just days after their two-and-a-half year relationship ended. His “transmitting” subtype seems to result in the intense passion and connectedness he has shown with many of his partners. For instance, within just a few days of his breakup with Cazzie, he switched the tattoo on his finger from her favorite emoji to Ariana Grande’s. 

What’s next for the ‘King of Staten Island’?

Despite Pete’s star qualities and booming love-life, there’s lately been a lot of tension between him and his colleagues on SNL. 

“Pete doesn’t contribute much to the writing,” his colleagues said. “ Yet he’s the only one who gets star treatment.” Classic Enneagram 7—always on the go but never putting in the work. But, actually, it goes deeper than that.

Pete has struggled with growing fame and detriments to his reputation since his romantic foray for Ariana Grande. As many of us know, quite a few SNL skits benefit from making fun of Davidson, and he, a “transmitting” subtype, is frustrated with the detriment to his reputation (even though he sought it in the first place) and has mentioned leaving SNL as a result. In my experience, many of us struggle with a perceptual bias that Davidson seems to possess: becoming frustrated with the very aspects of ourselves that we have brought upon ourselves.

Davidson called the teasing and mockery a “punch in the gut,” and blamed Grande for the paparazzi beginning to show up at his house. Here we see an Enneagram 7 “disintegration” pattern. When at their worst, sevens become judgmental and critical like an Enneagram 1, the Perfectionist, in order to prop up their unhealthy tendency to escape pain at all costs. Like a 1, Davidson has grown resentful of his fellow cast, feeling their immaturity and mockery is below him. 

As a 7, he dislikes stagnancy and will likely continue to publicly climb the ranks of comedy specials, tabloids and relationships in the coming months—possibly even meaning a leave of absence from SNL.

In Conclusion

Pete Davidson, I have concluded that as a “transmitting” Enneagram 7, has scrambled to fulfill his need for stimulation and rope in the attention of those around him in ways that have attracted an audience. Such behaviors are a product of how he approaches suffering. 

For Davidson, moving in a positive direction may look like stepping back from sensory stimulations and appreciating alone time, self-reflection and some time without attention. Will Davidson reach this goal? We’ll just have to wait and see. Regardless, his well-developed humor and “transmitting” skills have certainly filled a void in popular culture, and show that even high-performers struggle with emotions that seem perpetually out of balance. 

We’ll just have to sit back, learn from Pete Davidson’s trials and tribulations, and see where he lands in this wild ride of life.

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About the Contributors
Veronica Tadross
Veronica Tadross, Senior Staff Writer
Veronica Tadross ('25) is majoring in economics and history and minoring in Arabic in the College of Arts and Science. She is from Long Island, N.Y., and you can reach her at [email protected].
Alexa White
Alexa White, Former Graphics Director
Alexa White ('23) is from Traverse City, Michigan, and is double-majoring in secondary education and English. When she isn't writing for The Hustler, she is probably teaching, reading or creating art. After graduation, Alexa plans to be an English teacher and hopes to inspire kids to love reading, writing and exploring their creativity in all forms. She can be reached at [email protected].
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