Yuuri and Emotional Vulnerability
I was doing some thinking on this line of Yuuri from episode 4’s beach scene and, even though it’s been done to death by now, I’d like to talk a bit about it.
What Yuuri is talking about, and what the entire crux of the issue is, is that Yuuri feels that showing emotions and being emotionally vulnerable is a sign of weakness. To go even further, he feels that having these emotions at all makes him weak. In turn, at any point that he thinks someone has seen this ‘weakness’, he proceeds to push them away and run from the issue for as long as he possibly can.
He does this time and time again. In episode 4 we’re presented with an example of this in the short term: he pushes Victor away and hides at home instead of going to the rink. This isn’t just an issue that has haunted him in the short term, however. From a more long-term perspective, he’s pushed away friends and family; the example he tells us is when he pushed away the girl who saw him upset and tried to hug him. We also see the same pattern with the girl who made him the music.
This habit hasn’t only affected him in the past and present, but it’s also impacted his future. What I mean is that this issue is inextricably tied to his confidence. Everyone has emotions, and everyone has times in which they are emotionally vulnerable. Yuuri has been suppressing this for so long that he’s been crushing his confidence in himself at the same time.
But during their talk at the beach, Yuuri has an incredibly big realization. Through Victor’s words and actions, as well as the influence of Yuuri’s friends and family, Yuuri sees that having emotions is not a weakness. That it’s okay to be emotionally vulnerable in front of other people. That having these emotions, and showing them, does not make you weak – it makes you human.
When we look at Victor’s lines during this scene, we come to realize that this is the exact message he is trying to impart to Yuuri. He starts with opening up and being emotionally vulnerable first by admitting he misses St. Petersburg and didn’t have a firm direction for his future in mind. He then follows that up by telling Yuuri that he himself, along with everyone else around them, does not see Yuuri as being weak. Victor’s trying to tell Yuuri that having emotions, such as his own homesickness and loss of direction, does not make him weak. And neither does showing them.
I think, in this moment, this is exactly the words Yuuri needed to hear. He’d come close to the realization before, when he noticed that his friends and family don’t see him as weak and that they know to give him space when he needs it, but it hadn’t fully clicked into place yet. Victor’s words serve as the affirmation Yuuri needs to start to see how others view his emotions/emotional vulnerability and Yuuri uses Victor’s own vulnerability as the launching point for this realization.
We immediately see the affects this revelation has on Yuuri. The first thing he does is open up and apologize to Victor for avoiding him. As the cherry on top, Yuuri even admits why he did – because he felt that having these emotions would make him “weak” and he wanted to hide those “shortcomings” from Victor.
Yuuri then immediately reaches out to someone he’d avoided for what might have been years, someone he had avoided simply because he felt guilty for turning down her work and not wanting to show how that had affected him. He had run from his feelings but, through Victor’s help, was finally able to face them.
But Yuuri doesn’t stop there. He doesn’t look only at the past and the present; he also looks to the future. He opens himself up enough to admit to Victor that he wants to reach his level. Not only that, but Yuuri also asks Victor himself for his help to do it.
After this, and all the way through the rest of the series, we see how this life lesson has impacts his thoughts and actions. Yuuri finds himself admitting things to himself that he was barely able to realize he felt before – such as wanting to win gold at the previous year’s Grand Prix Final.
In the end, this one conversation opened Yuuri’s eyes to so much more than just his emotions – it opened him up to new experiences and, in turn, enriched every other aspect of his life.