Growing up, I played soccer and volleyball competitively, and I loved it. Not necessarily for the life advice but because I loved the thrill of the game and the challenge. Looking back, it wasn’t until I stopped playing that I realized all the lessons I had learned playing soccer and volleyball could be directly applied to life in general.
There is one piece of advice in particular that I consider the “greatest” though. Let me set the stage:
By my sophomore/junior year of high school, I felt pretty burnt out on sports after playing in back to back seasons for so long. I also wanted to focus more on my academics before applying to college. I had not planned on playing club volleyball, but my coaches and former teammates/friends convinced me that we should have one last hurrah. We would only practice once a week for a couple hours and go to 4 tournaments total. I agreed, and the season got started without a hitch. The greatest piece of advice I ever received didn’t occur until our 3rd tournament in Reno, NV though. In Reno, our team was seeded 164 out of about 170 teams, so basically the bottom of the barrel. Since we weren’t participating in any leagues, the tournament coordinators didn’t know how where to place us so they put us at the bottom. I can’t exactly remember how most of the games played out or the rankings of those teams. (This is common, considering a team could play up to 12 matches in a weekend).
I do however remember one specific team from the second day of the tournament. They were from Colorado, ranked 6th in the entire tournament, and stood about a foot taller than me (Keep in mind, I’m only 5’2″ but still). We went into playing this match as we did with every other game: just excited to be there and ready to put it all out on the floor. Channeling this energy, we won the first game! But the match wasn’t over yet. We had to win 2 out of 3. So we played on. And they took the second game… This meant there was only one more game and 15 points standing between us and taking the number 6 rank. The game started and we were losing. That’s when my coach intervened with a time out with the greatest advice I have received,
“ARE YOU JUST GOING TO ROLL OVER AND DIE, OR ARE YOU GOING TO FIGHT FOR THIS?”
So maybe this wasn’t put in the most eloquent way, but it was practical and exactly what we needed to motivate us. (We won the game by the way). Out of all the advice I’ve been given, I have found this the most valuable because it can be applied to anything. Like not getting the grade I wanted. Or struggling to find an internship. Or getting frustrated with bureaucracy at school. It’s easy to feel powerless or down on your luck. But I believe that in most situations there is a choice: to roll over and die, or to fight. It all depends on how badly you want something and if you’re willing to continue to pursue it. The key is in the approach. Instead of defeat, frame it as a challenge. I can guarantee that most people will not do that. Taking that extra step, and fighting for something can make all the difference in getting to where you want to be.
Stephanie Lee | UCLA Career Center Peer Advisor