I Just Wanna Be Successful

Brief thoughts on life after football.

Chris Rock has a joke where he says “only women, children and dogs get unconditional love. Men only get love under the condition that they provide something.” As men, we face a lot of societal pressure to be successful. From the music we hear to our family and community, we hear the message of “No Scrubs”, “Broke Boys don’t deserve…”, deadbeat fathers, and the list goes on. To provide something, you have to be good at something. The race is to find that something so you can get the love you want in your life. When I was playing football, I had that thing I was good at. I made it to the NFL and became a starter. Life made a lot of sense when I was playing. Things changed once I got injured and lost my career.

When football was over, I no longer had that thing I was really good at. Since a kid, I went all-in with football. I knew that it could provide me the success and security that I wanted growing up and thank God, it provided that for me. When it was all over, though, I felt like I hadn’t done anything great in my life. At that point, Football was in my past and as far as I was concerned, I wasn’t good at anything at the moment. That took a toll on me mentally. I wasn’t as happy as I was before. I didn’t have as many people in my life as I did before. Chris Rock’s joke started to have a whole different meaning to me.

The worst part of starting something new is that you are gonna suck at first. No one likes to be bad at anything, especially after you’ve been good at something. But the irony is to get good at something, you have to endure being bad at it. That’s where I'm at in my journey.

On the field, things came naturally, I didn’t have to think, I could just trust myself. In my new endeavors, all I do is think and make mistakes. Everything feels like riding a bicycle, you fall off the bike at 1st but eventually, you catch your balance. Now there are remedies to being bad. Asking for help from someone who did it before, having a teacher, working for a successful company, all ease the pain of the struggles of starting something new. What I had to learn, however, was that it is okay to not be good. It’s a part of the journey. Eventually, you will be good if you keep at it. The only way you lock in being bad is if you quit. So I say all that to say, it's okay you’re not good yet, just keep going.

Isa Abdul-Quddus is a former NFL Athlete, playing 6 years at safety for the Saints, Lions and Dolphins. After suffering a career ending injury, he took his focus to sharing his story, emphasizing on mental health. Isa also loves music (Hip Hop and R&B), film and reading.