An integral part of law school is the friends we make along the way. I know, it’s cheesy, but let’s face it; law school can be a very isolating experience. For many of us non-Bostonians, we moved all the way from our comfort zones to a new city with new faces. A big part of this transition is figuring out where we belong, and who we belong with. No longer do we have the privilege of knowing what kinds of jokes will stick, nor do we know who has the same interests or hobbies. We watch Instagram stories of our friends back at home hanging out and long to be there with them. They think we’re doing something amazing, which we are; but most of us are just trying to stay afloat. There never seems to be any time to catch up with friends, and we can only hope that Thanksgiving break will give us a bit of an opportunity to see old faces. Bottom line: we miss our friends and families, yet just as their lives go on without us, so must ours.
It’s not easy to make friends in law school, and that’s the unfortunate truth. I know I’m not the only one who read posts on the law school subreddit about classmates sabotaging each other, and how generally lonely people are. In this institution, we find ourselves surrounded by people from different walks of life. It doesn’t help that in the back of our minds, we know that the people sitting next to us are the ones we are stacked up against on the curve. It is easy to slip into the imposter mindset, wondering if we truly belong here when there are so many people with seemingly endless qualifications. When everything feels weirdly like a competition and you’re looking out for yourself, it’s hard to feel at home.
I got very lucky with my group of friends (shoutout to my section 2 Glue Eaters!). Somehow, we all gravitated towards each other very early on in the semester and happened to have interests, beliefs, and personalities that meshed well with each other. And even though it has only been 3 months since school started, I feel that I’ve known these people for so much longer. From apple picking to spontaneous mall trips; from movie nights to trivia nights, I have made truly incredible memories with people that I was nervous to talk to just a few months ago.
Now that finals are coming up, it can definitely seem harrowing to try to carve out time to hang out with friends. And perhaps this article reads as a bit naïve; “grades are way more important than your social life,” as my mother would say. But in my honest opinion, making time for mental health is just as important as trying to understand the historical background of personal jurisdiction (I am absolutely throwing shade at Pennoyer). And a big part of our mental health is social interaction. It is important to have friends in law school because they’re the only ones who really understand what you are going through. I think of this as akin to a hazing ritual–people on the outside do not and never will understand how different law school is from anything we’ve experienced before. They will never understand why we prepare for finals a month in advance, or why we seem to never have time to visit home. But the ones who will keep you going here are the people you see every day, pushing through the same lectures, making sure you didn’t leave out the parole evidence rule in your contracts outline. And through the stress, you build a strange bond of commiseration that would otherwise take longer to build.
It’s funny: when people ask me how law school is going, I don’t think about the readings I have to do or the papers that are due next week. I think about the random texts in our group chat during class that make me grateful for this mask I wear, because I cannot contain my laughter. (But, uh, don’t text during class. Pay attention.) I think about our inability to focus in the study rooms we pile into between classes because one of us is too busy drawing a map of Europe from memory on the whiteboard while the rest of us watch. And maybe that’s not the most ideal situation from an academic standpoint, but I think about it this way: in ten years, I want to be able to look back on my time in law school and think, “Hey, that wasn’t so bad!”
Just because we’re in law school doesn’t mean we must give up who we are. Perhaps it’s the ENFJ extrovert in me, but I really do think that as people, we are truly the happiest in good company. Next time you find yourself doubting whether or not you should tap on the shoulder of the person next to you, put those doubts to rest. Everyone needs a friend, especially here.
Seung Hye Yang is a first-year student at BC Law. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.