U.S. Soccer's Megan Rapinoe: I wish 'I knew that I was gay' earlier

Soccer star Megan Rapinoe wrote that she wishes "that I knew that I was gay" when she was growing up.

Rapinoe and the United States women's national team opened their Olympics campaign with a win on Wednesday, and ahead of Friday's opening ceremony, she wrote a letter to her younger self on Bleacher Report.

"It's OK to feel different right now," Rapinoe wrote. "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."

"Know that it's normal, and it's OK. Everybody else is going through the same thing.

Michael Chow/USA TODAY Sports

Megan Rapinoe, right, has 113 caps and 31 goals since debuting for the national team in 2006.

"I do wish, when I was younger, that I knew that I was gay. It would have made things a lot clearer for me. Really. Looking back on it, it was so obvious, but it never really dawned on me. Socially, I felt like I didn't know how to be and who to be. If I had known back then, it would have given me more self-confidence."

She also encouraged herself to reach out to others if they are "feeling uncomfortable about speaking out about something."

"Putting yourself out there is hard, but it's so worth it," she wrote. "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."

Rapinoe also included advice for young athletes in her position, both on and off the field.

"Be honest about how you approach failure," she wrote. "Don't just be critical of yourself, because that can be self-serving. Approach it honestly, assess your performance, and assess the areas where you have fallen short. Correct them and move on. Don't dwell on it. Don't hold on to it."

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