Most Olympic medals earned by an American female gymnast.
So … what do you have in common with her?
More than you’d think, actually.
After a year-long delay, the 2020 Olympics officially began on July 23. Like usual, our eyes have been glued to NBC and social media, cheering on our athletic heroes who take the world’s biggest stage every four years.
One of the biggest stories out of the gate was Simone Biles’s unexpected scratch from the women’s artistic gymnasts all-around and individual event competitions. What?! How could this happen to our shining star?
The “twisties.” Grief. Separation from support systems.
While us Average Joes may not ever experience “the twisties”, many of us can appreciate what it’s like to grieve, be separated from our greatest supports, and come up short when it seemingly matters most. And, because sport isn’t always just about sport, there are takeaways from Simone’s experience in Tokyo that can inform our journey, too.
Here are lessons we can learn from Simone:
1. First and foremost, mental health matters. It impacts every dimension of our being. Prioritizing your mental health is prioritizing your physical health. What are YOU doing to address your mental health?
2. Caring for yourself is the right thing to do, even if it means disappointing others. The joy we get from watching the Olympics does not outweigh Simone’s safety. Similarly, work commitments, social obligations, and other “norms” do not overpower our need to take care of ourselves. You might upset someone in the process of affirming your boundaries and that’s okay. If staying in for the night instead of going to your fifth holiday potluck in three days means you get rest, so be it.
3. Even GOATs have bad days. As Simone and others have suggested, even the greatest of the greats have days where their vaults don’t stick, sales fall through, and songs don’t hit. If our work is brilliant, perfect, and groundbreaking 100% of the time … is it really brilliant, perfect, and groundbreaking? Allowing ourselves to experience and learn from adversity makes us better.
4. The way we view setbacks can inform our comebacks - in gymnastics and in life. If we are focused on the things we can’t do, we’ll miss the things we can. Simone didn’t quit - she made a choice to prioritize her physical safety. In your non-gymnastics world, this could mean choosing to walk instead of run, rest instead of pushing through, and asking for help when needed. What’s something you can reframe as a choice to care for yourself?
5. Lastly, perspective is a game-changer. You might remember that Simone earned a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics in Beam, something she was vocal about being a let-down. No frowns with bronze in Tokyo, though. What resilience she demonstrated when triumphantly earning bronze in this Olympic cycle’s beam event! How does this relate to you? Perhaps now you’re a new parent, serving prepared foods for meals instead of the home-cooked versions you once enjoyed. Maybe you were once a marathoner, but now a 5K is the furthest you run. Both are totally okay, 100% acceptable scenarios! When highlighting the things you used to be able to do, be sure to make a list of things that make your life different now, too. It’s not excuses. It’s life.
What have you learned from Simone or others in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics? Let us know!
Talk to you soon!
Counseling services designed to help set you on a path of living a more fulfilled, calm, and happy life. We specialize in anxiety, depression, grief, chronic illness, therapy for men, couples, and maternal overwhelm. We can also help new moms with various postpartum concerns, moms in the thick of parenting, and moms with teens. We can also chat from wherever you are in the state with online therapy in Missouri and online therapy in Illinois. No matter where you are in your journey, we would love to support you.