Originally Posted On August 8, 2012
Last night I was watching the Olympic women’s individual gymnastic competition on beam and floor. I have really enjoyed watching these women compete over the past week, with obvious emphasis on team USA. If any of you have been living under a rock, Gabby Douglas has become the first black woman to win gold in the all-around, at the ripe age of 16. She has a contagious smile, personality, and a strong belief in God. Unfortunately, if you were watching last night, you may not have believed you were watching the same Gabby. She performed so well over the past week, but two nights ago she made a mistake on uneven bars resulting in 8th place and last night she fell off the beam ending in 7th. So how can she go from nearly perfect to not even close? There are a few things that come into my mind, but one very disturbing thing that stands out—ignorant people. If you haven’t heard, I guess people on twitter have been tweeting about how she is not embracing her ethnicity because she has been straightening her hair and there have also been comments about her mother, but I am unfamiliar with the content of those tweets. Gabby is 16 years old, at the biggest competition of her life and fulfilling her dreams. She used her success to share her beliefs and most likely hopes to be a great role model for other girls, but then encounters those comments. I am sure it impacted her greatly and even though a more mature athlete would put those ignorant comments out of their mind come competition time, I am not sure she was able to do so. Why am I interested in any of this? Because I enjoy psychology and I think it is a representation and glimpse into the human psyche; the animalistic instinct to pull down those above you. Resorting back to when only the fittest survived, if we let any one person have too much success, we may die.
I assume most of the comments were from people who don’t even know her, but they feel the need to judge and belittle. Instead of being happy or inspired by an athlete that has dedicated most of her life for a dream, they decide to do anything they can in order to lower her esteem. Why do humans feel the need to do this?
This also happens with athletes we idolize yet pick apart the moment we find a flaw. We think “well if they are successful, famous, rich, or an Olympic gold medalist, they better be perfect.” But perfect to whom? Sally Sue who expects Gabby to not talk about her religion because she doesn’t believe in God? Or Jon Johns who expects her to keep her hair in its natural state—heck with flyaways, right?
But this scenario could also happen among those we consider to be our friends. Have you ever encountered someone talking behind your back or a friend getting mad at you for not breaking from your diet, ultimately so they don’t feel alone and bad about their choices? This has probably happened in some realm to all of us.
But what it breaks down to, Olympic athlete or not, is the more successful you become, the more people will feel the need to tell you how to act or live your life. This aspect of human nature will never go away and neither will the desire to share one’s opinions. People will be jealous of others’ successes whether it’s because they lack the same amount of talent and are resentful, lack the work ethic but still want to have their cake and eat it too, or are simply too afraid to take risks to follow their dreams. Don’t get me wrong, it is normal to have feelings of jealousy at times if you lose or someone has accomplished what you want to accomplish before you. I have encountered these emotions and thought it was wrong, but this is just an unfortunate part of being a human being, especially a competitive one. However, it is not your thoughts but your actions that determine your character.
So if you are that person that not only feels jealous and resentful, but acts on those feelings, stop! Instead of pulling others down, start on the path toward your dreams and aspirations! Simply taking action towards your goals will make you happier and less resentful towards others that are experiencing success. And if you have people trying to pull you down, don’t let them win. Someone will always have an opinion, but they are not the ones who matter. YOU matter. You need to develop yourself into the perfect version of yourself. Be who you want to be and do what makes you happy. You only get one life, and you don’t want to look back with regret because you were too afraid or you let others’ opinions get the best of you!