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The older I get, the more ‘Good Will Hunting’ resonates with me

The Channels Arts Pages | STAFF SUGGESTION
Screenshot of Good Will Hunting movie soundtrack from Spotify.
Screenshot of “Good Will Hunting” movie soundtrack from Spotify.

The 1997 film “Good Will Hunting” changed my perspective on how I viewed a limited scope of existence, that I was not living the life I’d been given and letting people define me before learning what actually defines me.

The story follows Will Hunting (played by Matt Damon), a young genius mathematician who had been dealt tough cards in life putting him in a position to meet with therapist Sean Maguire (played by Robin Williams), who would guide him through his deep-rooted trauma.

While quick-witted and filled with humor, this film draws me to tears now realizing the parallels between my life and Matt Damon’s character. It’s real, raw and upsetting to recognize the character’s feelings so closely when they remind you of your own instances.

I watched the movie when I was 8 years old with my dad. He was holding back tears while I sat quietly observing, not fully grasping its message. At that time, I regretfully didn’t capitalize on asking the questions about life I would experience firsthand.

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I found this film again on Netflix when I had just recently decided to stop playing baseball. Baseball was a staple of what made me who I am. As a result, I was undergoing an identity crisis similar to the one Will had between what he comfortably knew and the prosperous unknown of his talent.

There is such a strong theme of trust in this film. I have encountered many people who have tested that relationship and sought out a way to overpower me. Watching this film made me realize how many people in my life were keeping me around with selfish intentions, simply to take advantage of my talents.

Over the course of the film, Will was constantly expected to be something great and a generational talent in mathematics. Beaten down by the expectations he looked for safety through his close friends. While his friends aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer, they were the closest thing he had to family. They respected him as if he were a sibling rather than a colleague — cracking jokes and beers without a care in the world and simply living.

This lifestyle with friends was simple and fun, yet everyone knew what he was capable of and that his stubborn, sloth-like nature would hold him back. His therapist saw this and wanted him to cut out his pessimistic view of the world and explore the options within his talents.

My dad was a complete parallel to the therapist in this film. Emotional and reserved, yet powerful in the messages he delivered. I was a know-it-all kid growing up, bless my parents’ hearts for dealing with me. I would constantly push away the perspectives of others believing what I knew was more valuable than what anyone else had to say. It took a lot of mental conditioning from my dad in order for me to take people’s opinions with a grain of salt. Just to open my mind to the possibility of being wrong was a hard pill to swallow.

Will was granted clarity after a heartbreaking moment between him and his therapist. Completely unfolding his past in front of his eyes, he would finally accept the fears of the unknown and take the risk of following his passions while leaving behind the simple lifestyle he had.

Now, reflecting on the months following my shift of focus in life, I have the trust in myself to say I have found a passion beyond what had defined me before. A mental fire has been lit, sparking my excitement for everyday activities and knowing what I do now is my path alone, not to be tampered with by any judging eyes.

Watching “Good Will Hunting” is a great opportunity for anyone who feels like they are failing someone or themselves. I have found you’re able to romanticize life in a realistic way through loving yourself and forming genuine lasting connections with others. Will’s experiences in the film feel like a very exaggerated form of everyday life, but there is a realization that those experiences are in our lives every day and we are just too scared to leave our comfort zone.

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