Welcome, Divergent

Wherever you are in your Mac career, there may have been a point when someone somewhere asked you to map out your professional life to a T. Depending on the day, my rebukes involved either retreating inward while mumbling Wall Street job titles or adamantly proclaiming that life can only be lived embracing the unknown.

This past summer cozy perusals led me to a story of teenagers about to make life choices there was no going back from. I’m thinking of Veronica Roth’s characters in her bestselling trilogy Divergent. In this series, children grow up in post-apocalyptic Chicago living in one of five factions. Abnegation teach selflessness, Amity peace, Candor honesty, Dauntless bravery and Erudite intellect. At the brink of adulthood, every individual is faced with a choice. Do you stay in your faction? Transfer to another and leave your family behind? Or perhaps fail initiation altogether and become faction-less, destined for an impoverished life on the streets?

Roth’s curious dystopian plot begs the question: How does one choose? In the book one cannot simultaneously be a peaceful farmer and intellectual scientist…but what of intellectual farmers? Brave scientists? Honest politicians? (Unlikely, I know – stay with me).

These simplified examples speak to a greater beauty that even the most jaded Mac senior can still embrace when faced with stark ‘permanent’ choices like those in Roth’s story. Our collective beauty lies in studying biology and religion. Music and medicine. Japanese and theater.

We choose what to study and even what we believe. Do you enjoy hookup culture? Tennis? Casual sex? Painting? Drinking? Coding? DJ’ing? Swing dancing? Do you yearn the renewal of Renaissance values? Do you decide to respect your peers by using preferred gender pronouns? Do you dare ask questions about new concepts you don’t understand?

We are privileged enough to dedicate four years of our lives to deciding what we value. To reflect on what we believe, why we believe it, what we stand for. And then reflect some more.

The Divergent are Roth’s characters who yearn to embody multiple disciplines. These dangerous individuals cannot be controlled, they disrupt the orderly system and override carefully placed norms. SPOILER ALERT: At the end of the series, readers discover the society was an experiment intended to produce more Divergent, because these interdisciplinary fellows were just as desirable as those with more rigid focuses.

So whatever year you are and whatever faction(s) you identify with, don’t commit wholeheartedly to a career just yet. That is not the main purpose of the community you’ve joined. Explore who you are and know the reasons (if any) behind your choices. And know that you are welcome. Welcome, Divergent.