I proudly spend some of my time between Zoom classes, case briefs, and outlines, scrolling through Tik Tok while attempting to escape the pressures of 1L. I may browse Facebook and Instagram every now and then, too. I’m often left laughing at unbelievably clever people from around the world as they try to inject some joy into our current existence called 2020.
One of the recent video trends shows people preparing to “turn up” on New Year’s to mark the end of this infamous year. Most people would agree that 2020 has been unusually chaotic. We’ve experienced a global shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, heard Black Lives Matter chanted from every corner of the country, and we’re currently living through one of the most polarizing elections in modern history. Not to mention, our society lost some impactful people: Rest in Power John Lewis, Justice Ginsburg, Chadwick Boseman, Kobe, and Mr. Trebek, just to name a few.
It’s safe to say that we are living in transformational times.
Yet, there’s a sense that the shock of 2020 will come to a screeching halt at 12:01 on January 1st, 2021 (or maybe January 20th). It seems that our society is striving to get back to where we were before 2020. I admit that last spring, I repeatedly said, “I can’t wait until this is all over.” I repeated this sentiment this past fall after the first Presidential debate: “I can’t wait until this is all over” (I may have also whispered this to myself a few times while stressing over my Law Practice memos).
The reality is that 2021 will continue to present us with our current challenges and likely some new ones. But, isn’t this why we are in law school? Isn’t this why many of you readers out there are considering attending law school? We’re here to figure out how to solve problems.
After acknowledging the very real pain this year has brought to so many, I believe there are three ways we can respond:
- We can be stuck in the moment: glued to the television and social media, waiting for the next spectacle to take over the headlines (yes, I called myself out on this one).
- We can be passive observers and ignore the realities of this transforming time hoping that the future brings “a sense of normalcy” (though, one may ask: normalcy for whom?).
- We can engage in the moment and leverage the chaos as fuel.
I’d like to encourage us to choose option three. 2020 is an opportunity to flex our muscles and adapt to this change.
If anything, this year should be fueling our burning desire for a better world regardless of our individual passion. Maybe it’s a healthier and sustainable world. Perhaps it’s a fairer, truly democratic world. It could be that it’s simply a more a connected world.
I was recently visiting my family in the great state of Pennsylvania (shout-out to Philly!). I connected with some friends outdoors, in the most socially distant, responsible way. Many of my friends and family expressed how proud they were that I was in law school. Some of the older people I spoke with expressed that we need more “good” people in the law and that they were counting on me.
Needless to say, the last thing I need is more pressure one week before Thanksgiving of my first year of law school.
But they are right.
As law students or prospective students at an incredible institution, we don’t have the luxury of choosing option 1 (being “stuck” in the moment) or option 2 (passive observers). It’s a daunting reality, but there are generations below us who count on us to harness the problems of today so that they can live in a better world. People did it before us and now it is our time.
So, allow yourself some grace to feel overwhelmed by 2020. But don’t sit back and wait until it’s over. Let us actively engage in the chaos and leverage it as fuel to be that necessary change.
Travis Salters is a first-year student at BC Law. Connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org.