Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Finding Identity

A few weeks ago, I finally saw the Divergent movie. (Late to the party- I know.) I enjoyed both the book and the movie. Not my all-time favorites, but enjoyable and I think there's a lot of things to take from the story. However, there was one thing I couldn't help but think about as I watched the movie.

In case you don't know the premise:

It's a futuristic/dystopian society set in Chicago. The people are divided into five groups, factions, which are:  Abnegation (selfless), Candor (honest), Erudite (intelligent), Amity (peaceful), and Dauntless (bravery). When one is a teenager, they are to take a test which will help them to determine which faction they would fit in best. Then, they are to pick the one they will live in. It's all about knowing yourself and where you think you will fit. They leave their family and former way of life for their new faction. Faction before blood as the story says.

As I watched the movie I couldn't help but think "How the hell is a teenager supposed to make a decision like that?"

I know there are teenagers who do know themselves and possibly might be able to make such a choice. However, I know for sure I wasn't one of them. Or even if I thought I was, I have a sinking feeling later in life I would have changed my mind about which faction to be in. Because at that point in my life I was still figuring out who I was.

Heck, I'm still figuring out who I am.

How do you determine who you are?

I know I'm not the only one who wonders this. Not long ago, I was talking with a close friend who recently lost her job. She lamented to me:  "That job was my whole life. It was who I was. What do I do now?"

What happens when what you identify yourself with gets taken away?

A few years ago, one of the teenagers I worked with wanted to be in the military. It wasn't just his chosen career- it was his whole life. Everything was about being in the military. When the time came to enlist, a tiny  glitch in his health prevented him from joining any branch. From there he went on this crazy downward spiral trying to figure out how to fill that hole and find who he was. (He's fine now by the way.)

It's funny what we choose to identify ourselves with. Careers, relationships, family, friends, fandoms, pet-lover, mother, father, husband, wife, etc.

I've been re-reading The Mortal Instruments and in the second book, the main character Clary finds herself in her own identity crisis. She thinks she's just a normal teenager when in fact her mother has been lying to her the whole time and she is actually a shadowhunter who fights demons. In fact, she even has more family members than she originally expected.

"Somebody's girlfriend. Somebody's sister, somebody's daughter. All these things I never knew I was before, and I still don't really know who I am." (City of Ashes chapter 4)

What if what we thought was true about ourselves and our lives turns out to be wrong? What does that make us then?

I think a lot about Julie Andrews. For years and years she was one of the greatest singers in Hollywood and Broadway. Then, she lost her voice. She can't really sing anymore. Yet, she still keeps going. I don't know what her daily life is like or what it was like for her when she first lost her voice, but from what I can tell it doesn't seem to phase her. She's still fantastic. She's still Julie Andrews.

Yet, she had lost part of who she was. A singer. How do you recover from that?

How do you define yourself? When you lose it, how do you find yourself again?

Bout of Books Progress: On page 203, Chapter 12 of Clockwork Angel


  1. I think one of the problems is we tend to think of identity as something static; but it isn't. Our identity is constantly growing and evolving as we learn, experience things, grow, and evolve.

    How we identify ourselves one day could be very different by the next day. It's an interesting process, that's for sure. :)

    Great post.

  2. I still have no idea what my identity is, it would be so hard to choose!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

  3. Great post! I think it's so hard to pinpoint our identity, because there are so many facets to who we are. At work, I'm "teacher," at home I'm "wife," ect. Although my core is the same, different parts of my personality come out with all my different roles.

  4. I think this is something most of us struggle with. It's human nature to try to put things in nice, neat little boxes but in reality it's rarely that simple especially since we are constantly growing and changing. My husband & I have both had semi-identity crises (very different reasons, lol) so it's definitely not unusual, especially at this age.


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