(My post is really long but I haven't really been able to share this with anyone and I think this may be a good place for it. If you feel it would best fit elsewhere, please let me know.)
I had no idea who Yuzuru Hanyu was until PyeongChang and had only started to follow skating a few weeks before the Olympics—the main reason I started was because it gave me something distracting and totally unrelated from my own life to look forward to. A few months prior, some things happened in my life and I was experiencing depression and anxiety in ways I had never experienced before. It wasn’t so severe to the point where I was in true danger, but I lived in constant fear of the future and there were moments when I just couldn’t see a way forward for myself. I felt like I had failed everyone who had given me so much support and most of all, I felt I had failed myself. Feeling this way was a shock to my system. I was about to graduate university so I thought everything was supposed to be exciting and special in my entry to the real world but this was far from the case. Many things I had always enjoyed lost nearly all meaning, but for some reason figure skating gave me something new to be excited about (I’m doing much better now and things are finally feeling normal again!)
The significance of Yuzuru’s win didn’t sink in until I read more about him and his injury during the months preceding the Olympics. To be honest, at first I thought he was overrated, just someone with too many screaming fans—until I watched his Olympic gala skate. Notte Stellata transported me to a different world. It was so beautiful, effortless, graceful, ethereal, and touching, and he seemed so at peace. I knew nothing about jump types or anything, I just knew that it made me feel something when I thought I would never feel real emotion again. (Even now, whenever I feel a little down or discouraged, I'll just watch that video. Notte Stellata has even been my most-played song on Spotify this year)
Yuzuru Hanyu saved me. I’m not saying watching him skate automatically fixed all my problems or anything, but at least he made things more bearable. He showed me that there is still hope and beauty in this life, and that with enough time, our struggles can become pure happiness and peace. His performances gave me hope that there was a future waiting for me, that everything should be done with purpose and with thought, that each moment should be given meaning and that life is better when we give it our own meaning. That passion and love still existed within me, and that I might also feel happy and peaceful someday. That having weaknesses is what makes us stronger.
In fact, that’s one of my favorite quotes, “weakness is strength” (弱さは強さ) which he talked about in one of his post-Olympic interviews with Matsuoka Shuzo in reference to his ankle. Any time I’m in a difficult situation now, I think about 弱さは強さ and how this difficult situation could actually be something good, and what I can learn from it. So, without Yuzuru, I wouldn't have felt and learned all the things that I have.
For a long time I didn’t bother to learn about the different types of jumps and the scoring system, because I only watched skating to appreciate the art and beauty. But I am slowly educating myself on the technical side, and followed the Grand Prix events for the first time this season.
Sorry for such a long post… all of this is to say: thank you, Yuzuru!