Naomi Osaka speaks out on others’ expectations: ‘Your life is your own’

Osaka says she's working on maintaining a positive outlook ahead of the start of the 2021 U.S. Open.

In a lengthy social media post written in Apple’s notes feature, tennis star Naomi Osaka says she is working on maintaining a positive outlook ahead of today’s start of the 2021 U.S. Open. 

The note is titled “hi,” and in it, the 23-year-old writes: “I’ve been reflecting over this past year. So grateful for the people around me because the support I feel is completely unparalleled.” 

“Recently I’ve been asking myself why do I feel the way I do and I realize one of the reasons is because internally I think I’m never good enough,” Osaka contended. “I’ve never told myself that I’ve done a good job, but I do know I constantly tell myself that I suck or I could do better. I know in the past some people have called me humble, but if I really consider it, I think I’m extremely self-deprecating.” 

Tennis player Naomi Osaka of Team Japan prepares to serve during her women’s singles third-round match in Day Four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

“Every time a new opportunity arises,” she added, “my first thought is, ‘wow, why me?’ I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m gonna try to celebrate myself and my accomplishments more, I think we all should.” 

“You got up in the morning and didn’t procrastinate on something? Champion,” she continued. “Figured something out at work that’s been bugging you for a while? Absolute legend.” 

Inspirationally, Osaka wrote, “Your life is your own and you shouldn’t value yourself on other people’s standards. I know I give my heart to everything I can and if that’s not good enough for some then my apologies.” 

“I can’t burden myself with those expectations anymore,” she concluded. “Seeing everything that’s going on in the world I feel like if I wake up in the morning that’s a win. That’s how I’m coming.” 

Osaka’s Twitter post has been “liked” by supporters more than 90,000 times. One popular response said, “You’ve won awards — but what you’re doing by speaking out & prioritizing your mental health has won ALL my respect. We’ll all meet ppl who insist their gratification takes precedence over our wellbeing. By rejecting that argument — despite global pressure — u’ll inspire others to do so.” 

“You have no idea how many people care about you,” the same user noted, “how many people are rooting for you, and how many people are praying for you.” 

One fan saluted Osaka’s Japanese heritage, sharing the note and writing: “It’s Monday in Japan and I feel many people very much needed to read this today considering everything that’s going on. Added Japanese translation so that more people could benefit from your message. Thank you so much for sharing.” 

The U.S. Open concludes on Sunday, Sept. 12. The official Twitter page of the tournament replied to Osaka’s tweet with blue and gold hearts. 

Last week, the tournament announced a new mental health initiative aimed at “providing best-in-class mental health support to players.”

“Our goal is to make mental health services as readily available to athletes as services for a sprained ankle — and with no stigma attached,” said Dr. Brian Hainline, who is leading the initiative, per CBS News. “We will provide an environment that fosters wellness while providing the necessary resources to readily allow mental health care seeking.”

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