Sochi and Self-Esteem

By Lindsay Ritenbaugh
@lindsayrite

As I watched the Olympic figure skating team competition this weekend, I got a little frustrated by the commentary from the announcers. I have grown up loving and watching Olympic figure skating since 1992, and I understand the precision and athleticism needed to perform the choreography and jumps on the ice. I’m learning that the way I judge a good performance is much different than that of the judges and announcers at the Olympics. While I was celebrating the fact that a skater landed a difficult jump sequence or an ice dancing pair twizzled in perfect synchronization, I kept hearing little snide comments from the announcers about the imperfections in their performances. Yes, she landed a triple lutz/triple toe combination, but “her height was a little low” or “the judges are definitely going to count off on that landing—I mean, look at her feet!”

This got me thinking. Why do Olympians, who train for years for this moment, seem to find their only validation in what other people think about their performance? I understand this is a competition and the stakes are high, but it seems like the focus is on things that might not really matter. I watched a skater land all of her jumps effortlessly, then received lots of feedback from the announcers about what she did wrong. She appeared to be happy with her performance:



Then she got her score.


The picture speaks for itself:

 Rather than relish in the fact that she helped the team advance in the overall standings, Ashley Wagner mouthed the words, “This is bullsh-t. Sorry, that’s horrible.” Because of her score, it appears that Ashley decided that her hard work was for nothing and what I thought was an impeccable Olympic performance was made to feel like a complete failure. I’m not judging Ashley’s character—instead, I’m curious why we live in a society that is so dependent upon the opinions and judgments of others.


Can’t we focus on the positive of every situation instead of automatically pointing out our imperfections? We’re hard enough on ourselves (which is another blog post altogether), so why do we let the voices of those around us determine our worth? [I’m speaking to myself here, too.]






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