Megan Rapinoe is playing in a key game with her U.S. national soccer team in Rio de Janiero Tuesday night, facing Colombia at the Olympics. And as an openly gay competitor, she is a role model for countless LGBTQ young people here in the United States and around the world.
Perhaps with that in mind, Rapinoe wrote an encouraging letter to her 13-year-old self, published Friday in The Bleacher Report. It’s emotional, inspirational and very personal. And there is not a person alive who won’t get goosebumps reading the insights Rapinoe has drawn in her 31 years on the planet, and seeing the photographs of the athlete as a young girl with so much promise.
Here are some excerpts:
“If you knew then what you know now, maybe you would have felt better about branching out on your own a little more. Maybe you would have realized that it was totally OK that you didn’t quite know how to wear the right clothes or whether you were supposed to think the boy sitting next to you in class was cute.
“Maybe you would have realized that you were gay. And funny. And outgoing. And one of the best soccer players around.”
“It’s OK to feel different right now. You are supposed to be feeling weird a lot of the time. You have a lot going on. And you are supposed to feel uncomfortable and awkward because it’s a good thing, and it helps you grow.”
“I’ve been asked a lot through the years, why I came out as gay, why I decided to do that. Most people assumed I was gay and I can live my life the way I want to. But for me, it was important, really important to the rest of the community I live in.
“If you are feeling uncomfortable about speaking out about something, instead of doing it for yourself, do it for someone else. Do it for the people, or the cause, that you are standing up for. Sometimes it’s just bigger than you. If you carry the strength of other people, it makes it a little less daunting.
“Putting yourself out there is hard, but it’s so worth it.
“I don’t think anyone who has ever spoken out, or stood up or had a brave moment, has regretted it. It’s empowering and confidence-building and inspiring. Not only to other people, but to yourself.
“Your life is about to get amazing. You are going to want to soak it all in, embrace the great moments and gain perspective from the not-so-great ones.
“And remember, always, to look up and watch where you are headed.”