Tennis star Naomi Osaka in mid-serve

Naomi Osaka Gets Candid About Imposter Syndrome & Making a Commitment “To Celebrate Myself”

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Going into the U.S. Open, which started today, tennis star Naomi Osaka is sharing more insight into her ongoing mental and emotional health journey. Earlier this summer, Osaka chose to prioritize her own wellbeing over her career—a choice she never should have been forced to make—and withdrew from the French Open.

Going into this week’s tournament, Osaka shared a message on Twitter and Instagram, expressing her gratitude for the “completely unparalleled” support she’s received from people in her life and also doing some self-reflection.

“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,” she writes. “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. Every time a new opportunity arises my first thought is, ‘wow, why me?'”

23-year-old Naomi Osaka is the current reigning U.S. Open champion, she’s a four-time Grand Slam winner, and Forbes named her the highest-paid female athlete of 2021. Which all just goes to show that imposter syndrome comes for everyone.

Osaka goes on to say that her goal moving forward is to “try to celebrate myself and my accomplishments more,” and that “we all should.”

“You got up in the morning and didn’t procrastinate on something?” she writes. “Champion. Figured something out at work that’s been bugging you for a while? Absolute legend. 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 but I can’t burden myself with those expectations anymore. 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 message to celebrate small victories is one that resonates with a lot of people, including our favorite fictional sports coach, Ted Lasso, who responded on Twitter with his own message of support, writing, “The thing about small victories is that they’re easier to carry with you.”

The small victories are absolutely important, but Osaka has also been having some pretty big wins, too. Her decision to speak out against the mistreatment of players by aggressive members of the media has had a real impact, as the U.S. Open recently announced there would be “quiet rooms” and mental health resources available at the tournament for the first time ever.

(image: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.