Unexpected Life Lessons You Can Learn From 'The Queen's Gambit'

Photo: netflix
anya taylor-joy from the queen's gambit netflix
Self

Who knew a show about chess could take off as much as it did? I think for me, one of the reasons I think a lot of people, including myself, loved Netflix’s The Queen's Gambit (2020) because there were a bunch of unexpected life lessons weaved into the show.

The Netflix series was released a month ago, and yet it’s still regularly in Netflix’s Top Ten for the U.S. With only seven episodes, each ranging from 46-67 minutes, it’s a captivating and moving show that has audiences raving about it, with Forbes calling it Netflix’s biggest show of 2020. 

The show explores the life of the young orphan Beth Harmon (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) who lives in the orphanage and has to take daily vitamins, develops a growing dependence on tranquilizers, and intense interest and knack for the game of chess. 

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Throughout the show, we see the struggle with Beth's addiction to drugs and eventually alcohol because of her mother's history of alcoholism, and the life lessons of growing up, like bullying, learning about love, earning money, the struggle of comparing yourself to others, and becoming successful.

The importance of focus and determination.

The show teaches you a lot about being determined and focused on your career.

Beth’s determination and focus on the game of chess is inspirational because she didn’t care what others said about being a girl and playing chess. She was determined and focused and that helped her win every time — minus the tranquilizer addiction part, of course — but I think Beth encourages us all to be like that in our career.

Why it's important to plan ahead...

Another thing I learned from the show would have to be thinking a couple of steps ahead, which is hard to do if you’re an impulsive person.

However, sometimes planning something out, especially in your career, can help you decide or visualize what you want to do and where you want to go. 

...but also learn how to go with the flow.

The Queen’s Gambit (2020) taught me that it’s okay not to know what people are going to do or not knowing how to interact with different types of people because everyone is different.

Life isn’t like a chess game where you know all the outcomes and can study all the different possibilities. People and the world are constantly changing and that’s something you can’t really plan for, you just have to be yourself and be confident in yourself. 

It's OK to take your time.

The show taught me that you can take your time when deciding what and who is right for you in your life and to make the right move that you think is right always. Never be persuaded or tricked by someone else to do something you don’t want to do or that you don’t think is right. 

In the show, Beth was always criticized for how she dressed and acted like a woman, which, even though this was typical because it was the 1960s, it’s kind of sad how some of it is still true to this day.

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Don't let others' opinions get to you. 

Beth was criticized at the beginning of the show as she entered into high school by the other girls that her outfits and shoes were hideous. However, even after she developed a sense of fashion and could afford the beautiful and fancy clothes she desired, she was then criticized for looking too “glamorous” to be a chess player.

But of course, it didn’t matter how expensive the men's suits were, a woman is always criticized. And that’s something we have to learn to not care about especially if it’s the unwanted opinion of men in our life.

We don’t have to fit into a perfect stereotype of how a woman is supposed to be either — I mean thank god it’s not the 1960s anymore, am I right?

You have to take your life into your own hands.

Beth taught me that sometimes you have to jump into the deep end to experience life. Even when you might not be fully prepared for something or ready for something to happen, sometimes you just have to make it happen like Beth and her career of chess.

She constantly bothered the janitor to teach her how to play, and once he realized her talent he helped inspire her to keep working at it and get even better.

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Sometimes we can be our worst critic and dig ourselves mentally and physically into a place we don’t like. By being open to constructive criticism and not being so hard on ourselves as we try something new is an important life lesson to learn. 

Prioritize your health.

Lastly, and this is what I find very important from watching The Queen’s Gambit (2020), is to prioritize and take care of your health.

During this pandemic, it’s now more important than ever to know how we are doing mentally and physically and seek out help if we need it.

Beth's mother (and even Beth herself) didn’t learn to do that until it almost killed them.

Beth is one of the few people who got a second chance from addiction and she used it well and cleaned herself up. It was really inspiring to see her from the lowest of lows climb back up and be successful again. 

I’d really recommend watching Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit (2020) because even if you don’t like chess — which I still don’t know if I do, but I do know that this was a great show about valuable life lessons which I will definitely take to heart. 

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Megan Hatch is a writer at YourTango who covers pop culture, love and relationships, and zodiac.