After four years of undergrad, two new cities, and a semester of law school, all I know for sure is how to handle every question my extended family will throw at me over winter break. There’s a strict science to it, a standard formula: Keep it positive, stay away from controversy, and pivot to the weather as soon as possible.
Turns out, even revered Christmas traditions are vulnerable to the all-consuming legal education. After a mere four months and one round of exams, all I could muster when faced with the entirely-expected “how’s law school?!” was:
Now, over a month later with the benefit of hindsight and hard data to back up my analysis, I stick to my original claim. It was hard. Yet, strangely, first semester was comprised of a bunch of things I’d done successfully in some past life, but suddenly found myself ill-prepared for: Getting involved, reading, riding the bus, taking notes, eating three meals a day, speaking in class, writing, staying alive.
Do I think we psych ourselves out? Absolutely. Do I think it’s part of the experience? Definitely. Would I do it differently? Surprisingly, yes. Coming from a guy who avoids regrets at all costs, I’m oddly comfortable looking back and realizing it didn’t need to be as neurotic and fanatical as it was. When I add up all the time I spent comparing myself to my classmates in a panic or sticking with methods that simply weren’t working, I get more than the two hours it should have taken to cut it out.
So, I’ve thought long and hard about what I can do to stay ahead of the curve this semester. I’ve read the blogs, audited the calendar, and have my game plan. To have a truly successful semester, I will:
- Hang out with my girlfriend. She deserves more than an overextended roommate. A wise friend always says things aren’t going to get any easier moving forward. We’re all headed toward rewarding, if not entirely family-friendly, careers. If I can’t learn to strike a balance now I have a feeling I’ll be overextended and single.
- Be more radical. It has never been more important to speak out truthfully. Plus, if I’m going to make good on the blood oath I’ve made to become public defender I have to up the ante sometime.
- Become immersed in the material. Not (only) because it will make a difference when all is said and done, but because with the cost of attendance at this place it’s utterly irresponsible to do anything else. I also needed one practical goal.
- Read a book. Just as spot-training isn’t a thing in physical exercise, engaging with other ideas and disciplines is not only important but worthwhile. Sure, I don’t exercise and had to Google “spot training”, but Infinite Jest probably won’t hurt my Con Law grade.
- Have one (1) event with my law school friends that does not devolve into a conversation about law school.
While perhaps my honest goal is to embrace the rigor of this new semester and to avoid comparisons and panics, I believe being a real person matters. Even if it’s only for an hour a week. To that end, each of these goals is well within reach.
Except #5. That’s never going to happen.