I put in one of my favorite movies today. The movie is called, “G.I. Jane” starring Demi Moore. I think it was released in 1997 if I remember right. At any rate, it is among my favorites, not because I like Demi Moore, but rather because of the story the movie tells. I find it encouraging seeing the transformation in Lt. O’Neil and those who are training alongside of her. She goes from being an outcast to being a valued member of a Navy Seal team. Along the way she has to contend with obstacles relating to her gender and in short being in a place where nobody is welcoming her. She has to not only prove that she can make it through the rigors of Seal training, but she also has to prove that she can keep up with her male counterparts in addition to contending with political games going on behind the scenes. In short she starts something she has been set up to fail at. She does everything she can to try and complete the training and eventually does finish her training and becomes a Navy Seal.
I think for me the reason I find this movie to be so encouraging is because for me, I always felt like an outsider, not only in dealing with the world around me, but even within my own family and even in some way to myself. Like O’Neil points out at one point she has been given a different set of rules that forces her into a position where she isn’t able to fit in with her male team mates. It’s tough to explain, but I always felt like I was an outcast. I felt like I was raised under different rules then my siblings, at school, I wasn’t accepted by classmates most of the time, and I think teachers were perplexed as to what they should do with me. I have been told I’m bright, intelligent, and that if I applied myself better I wouldn’t have a problem with anything presented to me in terms of school assignments. I guess that the way I’ve seen things in terms of my ability to learn is that I’m ‘too smart for my own good’ at times. I get bored with stuff, I am always looking for something to occupy myself with, and the things I come up with that hold my attention and give me something to challenge myself with that makes sense to me are often things like computer games. Or things that others feel are pointless. What they don’t realize though is that I often am learning about myself when I play these games, I learn about how I am best suited when it comes to either leading or following. I find that I can work on improving other skills as I play games, like web design, writing, and even make some new friends along the way. Socially I have always felt awkward, but when I am playing a game like “World of Warcraft” which is made by Blizzard Entertainment. I am able to work on improving my communication skills and have begun to see that I’m stepping out of my shell when dealing with the real world, in part because of the things I’ve been learning through gaming. I feel less like an outsider then I did as a kid, but still feel quite awkward when I’m in a group of people. How does all this relate to why I’m inspired by the movie “G.I. Jane”? Well, while keeping in mind that “G.I. Jane” is pretty much a ‘what if’ kind of scenario that was probably influenced by the ongoing debate over what women can and can’t do while serving in the US military. For me it reminds me how strong and resilient the human spirit is and how given the right mind set, a person can overcome situations that are out of the ordinary and where they have started out in a position where they are expected to fail in the eyes of others.
I know that there have been those in my life who wanted more than anything for me to be “a success” whiles many others I’m sure doubted I would amount to much of anything. I have at times felt I would never achieve anything while other times I felt like I could take on the world. I see this happening in the character Lt. O’Neil in the movie “G.I. Jane” at times I can see her looking at the bell like she is seriously considering ringing out and quitting, but then it’s like something clicks inside her and she regroups and is able to take a stand against something she sees as wrong, and for a little longer, she regains the strength to fight despite her doubts. It is this human experience portrayed in the movie that I think draws me to it so strongly. Seeing a movie that demonstrates that everything isn’t always going well, but that there is still potential to overcome despite the odds being faced.
To some I’m sure I am viewed as lazy or even a leach to society, and there are times when I feel that about myself. I also know that there are those who recognize the battles I’ve faced over the years and commend me for getting to where I’m at now, and who encourage me to keep reaching beyond where I’m at. I think the ones who believe I’m lazy are probably ignorant about what I have had to do to reach where I’m at today, and don’t appreciate that in many ways I’m at a place in my journey that there were some who never thought I would reach. Dealing with having a serious mental illness and trying to balance my needs with what society expects of me can be very tough. I would love to be able to have a regular 9 to 5 kind of job, but I know that in reality it isn’t something I’m capable of doing at this time. I want to give back to society though so I find ways to contribute something to the world around me. I have a blog where I try to post information about what is happening in the mental health community in my state. I’ve been told many times that people who read my blog often learn about things they weren’t aware of that are happening in Pennsylvania, which helps them be aware of the impact of what they are doing. I also write and publish items on Associated Content. I really don’t expect to get rich through publishing my work there, but for me it is a way to share what I have learned through my experiences, and be able to get an idea of how many folks are possibly benefitting from my work through the statistics I can look at for each piece. I know that these have nothing to do with the movie “G.I. Jane”, but for me they kind of do, because like the character Lt. O’Neil, I am finding was to keep standing up one more time then I get knocked down and in some small way be able to give something of value o others. I don’t have a fancy title or job description, but it really doesn’t mean I’m not doing anything of value. My contribution is just different then what is typically the norm in our society. Besides, as I work on improving myself, with the help of others, those who assist me in my endeavors have jobs and are able to support their families. There are many folks who if it weren’t for people like me wouldn’t be doing the jobs they are doing, so I guess that the hidden contribution is that there are jobs available that wouldn’t be needed if it weren’t for people with serious mental illnesses. So, really there is another way I contribute to society. I volunteer as a web designer for a non-profit organization and also collect and recycle ink cartridges to help raise money for them so they can continue to train and place service dogs. I don’t have a designated work schedule, but I am productive, and that is something some thought I would never do. Like Lt. O’Neil in “G.I. Jane” I may have started out with a snowball’s chance in hell to succeed, but little by little I am not only succeeding in my own way, but I think I can safely say that others are benefitting from some of my efforts. I am feeling less like an outsider then I use to overall, and maybe someday just as Lt. O’Neil was able to overcome insurmountable odds and become the first female Navy Seal, I hope to continue reaching towards my own accomplishments and maybe someday I will be able to have that 9 to 5 job and be able to tell those who thought I would never succeed look what I did. For now I’ll take the progress I am making and do what I can with it, in hopes I will not only keep growing myself, but also that I’ll be able to make some of my dreams come true despite the odds I face on a daily basis.
Information about the movie “G.I. Jane” could be found on the “Internet Movie Database” (IMDb) website at the following address http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119173/ at the time of the publishing of this article.