By Aly Raisman, Team Captain & Gold Medal Gymnast
“Today, I’m going to have a good day.” That’s what I told myself when I woke up on the last day of the individual competition at the Summer Olympics in London in 2012. Representing the U.S. was a dream come true but I was feeling sorry for myself after a tie-breaker had kept me from earning a spot on the podium for the individual all-around. With a renewed spirit of optimism, I waited patiently and guess what happened? I was relaxed, had fun and became the first American to win a gold medal in the floor exercise.
Long before that incredible moment, I had been the six-year-old girl who was the only one in gymnastics class who didn’t move up to the next level. Why? Ironically, because I wasn’t good enough on floor! But I didn’t give up because I loved gymnastics and that’s what mattered most to me.
My experiences as a gymnast have taught me about the power of optimism. As I travel the world and meet young girls, I encourage them to participate in sports and learn how to look for opportunities in obstacles. I want them to know that the amazing life lessons that I learned are right there on the soccer fields, the basketball courts and at track meets in every town across the country.
That’s why I was excited to work with Life is Good to design a line of T-shirts for young girls and women to celebrate the values that have guided my success in and out of the gym.
Any time you push yourself in sports to try things out of your comfort zone, you are being courageous. When I was preparing for the Olympics, I was so scared and didn’t feel like I was good enough. But I knew from my years of training that the hard days would make me stronger. I want girls to push through temptations to give up and think, “I’ve got this!” That’s being brave.
This is so important to me. My parents taught me from a young age that being a good person is way more important than winning. Especially when you are on a sports team, you will find that there is real power in kindness. When you practice kindness and show compassion, it actually rubs off and can totally transform a team into a family.
When I was young, I often felt out of place. At the gym, I was training with older girls who weren’t always nice, and at school people would judge me for having muscles. I had to focus on my love for the sport and be true to myself. I found that being authentic is the best thing we can do for ourselves in the long run. Looking back, while I’m certainly proud of my accomplishments, it means so much more because I feel good about who I am as a person.
My focus now is to inspire the next generation of girls to use the power of optimism to change the world. Let’s all start each morning believing, “Today is going to be a good day. Life is good.”
Shop the Aly collection here.