Permission To Be Vulnerable Is An Investment In Success
The recent decision by Naomi Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam singles champion, to drop out
The recent decision by Naomi Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam singles champion, to drop out of the French Opens reveals a critical tension in what society expects of its highest-performing individuals, and what those individuals, as human beings, are “permitted” to reveal. Osaka is the highest paid female athlete in the world and has been unequivocally successful in the past two years. There should be no question about her ability to understand what conditions help her perform on the court, not to mention maintaining her stature as an outspoken advocate for social justice as an Asian and Black American woman. She described press conferences as a significant source of stress and anxiety, explaining that “in Paris I was already feeling vulnerable and anxious, so I thought it was better to exercise self-care and skip the press conferences.” And yet, after taking a stand for her own mental and emotional health – with the objective of being at her best during the French Open by not participating in press conferences – she has faced backlash and fines. The reaction from tournament officials – to threaten her with expulsion – demonstrates a significant barrier that prevents athletes, public figures and any high-performing professional from revealing the truth about their own mental health.