What football taught me about post-grad life

College football season is in full swing, and when your alma mater is ranked number one in the country, it’s pretty hard to ignore the hype. Evidence of lively rivalry is all around. It’s at the Seattle bars, where our Duck gear gets scowls from Husky fans. It’s on television, where my roommates cheer for the underdogs and boo the top-ranked teams Oregon might later face in a bowl game. It’s in the University District every Saturday, when the entire neighborhood dons purple and white.

The exhilarating fact that Oregon is still undefeated has made me far more invested in football than I’ve ever been before. I now spout facts and figures that last year were a foreign language to me. And even though I still don’t take football too seriously, I think there are a few (slightly cheesy) things I can learn about persistence and success from watching the games.

1. Don’t let your guard down when you’re ahead. Since graduation, it’s been tempting to stop thinking about the future when I’m content in the present. During my internship at The Seattle Times, I didn’t apply for any jobs until my last week there; I’d been so happy with the job that I forgot to think about how discontent (and jobless) I’d be in a matter of days. I’ve learned my lesson: even though I have a job now, I haven’t stopped thinking about where I might want to be a year or two from now. I still scour job sites regularly and look for future “dream jobs” or freelance writing jobs I can do on the side.
2. Things are better when you keep your cool. At the beginning of last football season, Jeremiah Masoli had everything going for him. He was among the best players on the University of Oregon team, people were already murmuring his name in the same sentence as “Heisman,” and students at games worshipped him. Then he was linked to the theft of a laptop at an off-campus fraternity, he was cited twice for marijuana possession, and police arrested him on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol. Finally, Masoli left the team–and Oregon–for good. I don’t have a tendency toward violence or illegal acts, but Masoli’s unproductive outburst taught me to stay calm and reasonable even when things aren’t going my way. Things turn out better.
3. Two heads are better than one. Teamwork doesn’t just work in sports and in business–it works in job hunting. When I’m nervous about missing typos in my resume or cover letter, I have a friend read over it. When I’m at a major job-related crossroads, I get a second opinion from someone I trust. And when I land an interview, especially at a publication, I’m more likely to stand out if I prove I know how to work with editors, photographers, designers and bloggers to produce the best content possible.
4. Winning isn’t easy. I know–I should have learned this by now. But to be honest, I’ve lived a privileged life–one with endlessly supportive parents, intelligent friends and a tolerant local community. All this made it easy to do well in school, to dabble in multiple subjects, to choose whether to get a side job–all without financial or social pressure. Up until now I’ve never had to pull out all the stops to succeed. Now I know that the real world demands more of us than school ever did.

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