Athletes see a mental health turning point after Naomi Osaka takes a stand at the French Open at the beginning of June.
By Caleb Izaguirre
Naomi Osaka attends a conference after winning the Australian Open in Melbourne, February 2021. Photograph: Natasha Morello/Tennis Australia/AFP/Getty Images
What were once seen as deficiencies and irregularities are now important health specifications that could hinder an athlete’s life and physical performance. While organizers of the Grand Slam(s) say Osaka’s defiance against the French Open was hurtful to tennis, Naomi Osaka retains that she didn’t feel comfortable performing press conferences this season.
I’ve experienced several mornings where I can’t seem to find the energy to get out of bed. All I feel like doing is endlessly scrolling through my phone. However, over time I learned that once I play one of my favorite songs, I get a little burst of energy. It feels as if a switch is flipped in my brain that makes me feel inspired instead of washed out. It is obvious how closely music and mood correlate, but there is an even deeper level of connection between music and motivation.
When I was little, my mother told me that when a baby first laughs, a fairy is born. I later found out that the notion came from Peter Pan, but I’ve never forgotten the sentiment — laughter is magical.
The above picture shows a group of friends. This group happens to be made up of the main characters of a video game called Persona 4, and the picture does a great job of depicting each of the characters’ unique personalities: Rise looking at Yu with admiration, Naoto hiding half of her face with her hat (which reflects her tendency to hide who she is), and Chie’s cheerful look towards the camera. The image serves as a great way of communicating how these characters are during the game’s story. Even though these people have different personalities, the image beautifully shows how they all accept each other for who they are and love each other all the same.
I’ve seen Pixar’s Soul twice – the first time with my best friend and the second time with my sisters. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these are the people who consistently guide me to the light switches in life – the message of Soul was one of them. I was stopped dead in my tracks because the story’s message struck a chord both times – the first time an artery and the second time a vein. I started thinking about the oxygenated blood I’ve taken from the world and the people in it and questioned the oxygenation of the blood that I’ve given back. I began following a cascade of thoughts about the trends in the path I’ve been on.
There are many difficult lines that life requires us to walk, one of which is the tightrope over thick white water rapids where striving to be purposeful, as opposed to being perfect, tumble over one another in swallowing waves. The important thing is that these waves are crashing into each other from competing directions. Aiming to be purposeful is challenging because we struggle to guide our own thoughts without adopting large portions of a standard that doesn’t exist in practice. Perfection doesn’t even exist in theory – circles aren’t even perfect – Pi is an incomplete number and mathematicians only find a new digit every so often.
I believe that almost everyone has seen the power of hope through witnessing someone else find it. I also believe that it is a different question to ask: have you felt hope within yourself? The answers will vary much more, especially now.
Hope seems to be the seed of miracles. The voices and platforms we follow endorse hope as a necessary component of the next step we take. With that said, one thing I have always felt is missing, is instructions on how to find it – different circumstances, epiphanies, experiences etc. give different people hope. How do we tread these waters? We have seen the stories of people who have found hope, often by chance, but how do we go looking for it when it would seem there is none to find? Or, alternatively, that there is no reason to try to find it anymore. Unfortunately, in this world, it is easy to give up. But this is where I believe there is a complicated relationship between accepting victimhood and fighting for agency and authority in your life. When I started writing this piece, I thought hope could be the bridge.