“Gattaca” and Overcoming Adversity

One of my favorite films is called “Gattaca”.

It is about a man named Vincent who lives in a futuristic society heavily influenced by eugenics. At contraception, genes are selected by parents so their future children are born without any genetic deficiencies. This process is seen as a means to “perfect” human beings. But Vincent is part of the minority who did not have this opportunity. People with his kinds of genetics are labeled an “in-valid”, and they are looked down upon in society. Because of this, Vincent is continuously reminded he won’t be able to achieve what genetically-selected people will. But despite rejection he works hard, he stays focused on his dreams, and he exceeds people’s expectations of his capabilities.

He didn’t let others’ opinions of him define who he became.

There is one key moment in the film with him and one of his critics: his genetically superior brother, Anton. During their childhood, the brothers did swimming contests across a lake. Whoever was the first to give up swimming lost the contest. Anton lost to Vincent as a kid so they re-challenge each other again, now as adults.

Again, Anton loses.

He asks Vincent how he did it, how he kept winning despite the odds stacked against him. Vincent replies:

“I never saved anything for the swim back.”

You cannot “select” the human spirit.

While the film has other subplots, the idea that we can be greater than our circumstances is at the heart of the film. Throughout our lives and in our history, we have heard about many individuals overcoming great adversity. Examples can include Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and Oprah Winfrey. Despite their pasts and other people’s doubts, they defied the odds and achieved success. You can attribute many reasons for their success, and I’d argue a lot of it included their own hard work, persistence, and determination.

Your past does not have to equal the future. When your environment gives you doubts, remember your destination. No matter what life hands you, you can still achieve greatness.

“Even if no one else sees it for me, I must see it for myself. ~ Les Brown

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