Musings from Episode One of the Netflix Show the Queen’s Gambit

Welcome to the chatter in my head as I watch the popular Netflix original about a prodigy playing chess

It’s a miracle. I doubt she’ll see it that way.

The trauma of being in an accident, losing a parent, and having to move to a new home with new people all as a child is a lot to handle at any age, let alone that young.

As someone with mental illnesses that resulted from traumatic childhood experiences similar to Elizabeth, I think that it’s interesting how Netflix decides to play out how she copes with her experiences and how her home enables potentially unhealthy coping mechanisms.

21 girls here … all just as sweet as you.

This was said by Mrs. Theodorf while giving Elizabeth a tour of the home.

But I just heard one of them yelling profanities which didn’t seem to be out of the norm? so either you underestimate how sweet I am or you’re just lying; either way as the authority figure in this new home of mine, our relationship is not starting on the right foot. Saying sweet nothings to make someone feel momentarily better at the cost of building trust in a relationship is a critical, and too common, mistake.

I know that in this moment all you’re feeling is loss.

When my mother died, people liked to assume a lot of things about how I felt and why; they were all often wrong. I think that the biggest thing to do in a tough moment for someone is not to tell them how they feel or should feel (such as saying ‘don’t cry’ etc), but to ask them how they feel and truly listen. Just listen.

Girls do not play chess.

I think that the interesting thing about gendered opinions on hobbies is that people fail to acknowledge or realize how refusing to teach someone who has demonstrated interest in a skill creates the exact environment in which they do not know the skill later on / are no longer able to be enthusiastic about learning it which then powers the stereotypes about who is or isn’t into it.

I watched this happen as I asked my cousin to teach me to play video games. Even though I was learning well, he dismissed the progress I made while actively encouraging and applauding our neighbor’s young son even if he was playing worse than I was despite us learning together.

I have to beg to be taken seriously enough to learn enough to be taken seriously while others are actively invited and even forced to partake in learning what they’re stereotypically believed to be good at regardless of their natural inclination of abilities. Stereotypes are taken as fact or evidence without regard to how they’re self-fulfilling conditions that we actively create for each other.

Stay away from all forms of alcohol.

Teaching abstinence rather than responsible participation is forcing children to learn how to engage in activities that peers will pressure them into at least once from nonreliable or predatory sources.

What surprised me is how badly they played.

Michelle Obama: “I’ve been in those rooms; they’re not that smart.” The spaces of which you are made to believe that you cannot meet the criteria for entry might surprise you once you are actually there. You might be shocked to realize how much the prestige of the space is built upon exclusivity, not on merit. Do not let impostor syndrome stifle your skills and hold you back. In the end, you may realize that you are the one who actually causes others to feel like frauds if you are set up with the right opportunities.

It felt good. I’ve never won anything before.

Judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree and it will live its whole life believing it's stupid. A thought that keeps me up at night is pondering how many things myself and others could’ve been all-stars at had we been met with the right opportunity early in our lives. How many Beyonce’s in the world never get to a stadium because they don’t have a music teacher to tell their parents how much potential they have or because they don’t have parents who believe music is something legitimate to have potential in or because they have parents who believe in their potential but don’t have the resources to act on it. Michelle Obama said she and Barack are not special; there are endless amounts of kids with the same potential for excellence who will be stuck in underprivileged circumstances outside of their control. Talent is distributed evenly; opportunity is not.

Product manager | Leading with empathy.

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