Rebecca-Anne Withey: What the movie Divergent made me think about identity and where I fit in

Posted on October 19, 2015

I see metaphors in movies all the time. And my movie of the moment is none other than Divergent.

In case you haven’t seen it, Divergent is based around the population being divided up into ‘factions.’ People living and working in specific factions have separate values, attitudes and ways of living. One group, for example are more concerned with knowledge and inventions; another spends their time assisting and supporting others.

As children grow up they are asked to select which faction they wish to devote their lives to. This may be a faction their parents do not belong to but is one where they feel most themselves. Tests are also designed to help individuals understand where they belong according to their strengths.

However – not everyone fits into one category. They have qualities that belong to several factions and so are unable to be completely pigeon holed in one group. These are… divergent.

Now, I’ve always felt as though I was a bit of a black sheep growing up, never able to commit to just one thing or fit in one world. The factions in my life growing up have been several. And the compartments just seem to grow.

There’s the hearing world. The music world. The dance world. The writing world. The deaf world. The motherhood world. The holistic world. I could go on and on…

And looking back I know I used to struggle with this. ‘Why cant I choose just one career path?’ I would agonise at university. ‘Why don’t I feel the same as all the other people at the deaf club?’ I wondered as a young girl.

And the answers simple. I’m divergent. Now I may not be Shailene Woodley but I know that I’m far more than just an ‘inbetweener’ straddling the deaf and hearing worlds simultaneously.

I’m the product of my upbringing but also of my interests, my skills and my passions.

This is why I’m so much more than just my deafness. And why I’ll never get on with hearing people that can’t see past that. But I’m not your typical deaf person either and I can’t apologise for that.

I may prefer to speak at certain times and sign at others. I may need to disappear into an holistic retreat some weekends and dance joyously on stage on others.

My differences don’t make me dangerous, as the films tag line suggests. But they do indeed make me me. 

How about you. Are there other divergents out there?

Rebecca-Anne Withey is an actress, sign singer and tutor of performing arts. A black country girl at heart, she now resides in Derby where she works in both performance art and holistic therapies. She writes on varied topics close to her heart in the hope that they may serve to inspire others.

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