When the Win isn’t what you wanted.

US Open.

Serena Williams.

Naomi Osaka.

If you haven’t followed the controversy around these three, let me sum it up for you. Naomi Osaka played in her first US Open this year against 6th time US Open winner (among many other trophies and awards) Serena Williams. This match was special for Naomi because she always dreamed of playing Serena, whose game she has studied her whole career. Up until this match, Naomi has made quiet a name as a competitor in the world of women’s tennis. The match was intense, but what happened during made it even crazier.

Serena was given a warning for receiving coaching during the match. After some confusion and a few mistakes during her play, she also got a point taken away for smashing her racket, and then she got a game taken away for “threatening” the umpire, Carlos Romos.

Ultimately, this put Naomi at the advantage. She won that set and the title.

While watching this with my friend, I began to experience all type of empathy for both of these ladies. On one hand you have Serena: fan favorite. She has been tormented her whole career by unfair rules and unwarranted criticism. Told what not to wear. Told to be a certain way. She fought her way back to the US Open, only to be cheated out of a fair shot of winning, to be called a cheater and to be disrespected.

And then you have Naomi. A young girl who has dreamed of this moment, playing her role model. Not only is she under pressure of the game, but the media seems to constantly dismiss her Haitian heritage and focus on her being Japanese. Now she’s won the US Open and is getting booed because of the incident with Serena. She’s literally crying on the stage and apologizing to Serena’s fans for winning!? Serena had to ask the crowd to be more respectful of Naomi during her interview. How crazy is that?

I’m sure when Naomi imagined winning the US Open, it was nothing like this. I’m sure that moment was filled with mixed emotions. What happens when you get what you want, but not in the way you wanted? How do you recover from that?

Losing is hard. Most of the time, it’s unexpected. You’ve worked hard to get to a goal and falling short of that can cause all sorts of emotions. You may feel like a failure, a disappointment, and not worthy of your goals. You could be frustrated with yourself or someone else that you feel may be responsible for your loss. All that is pretty normal, may not be the best way to handle it, but normal.

In a mature, perfect world…a loss is a lesson. You tried something and it didn’t go right? That’s okay! You tried. Learn what you can do better the next time. Even if you aren’t technically to blame.

We have to take the same (correct) approach when the win isn’t what we thought we wanted. Take that lesson and move on. We cannot live off of failures or successes because they are all temporary. We have to learn to grow from every situation we are in, whether we feel like it was a good or bad experience.

The win won’t always be what you dreamed, but that’s okay. Take your win and learn from it.

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