Law school isolation

Law school is a very isolating experience. When I first joined my sorority (or rather Fraternity) I was told that from the outside looking in, you can’t understand it; from the inside looking out you, can’t explain it. Law school is exactly like this. I briefly touched on this during my bar prep survival post but it seems to extend far beyond what I thought it did. People outside law school can’t understand obsessing over exams,  being overwhelmed by loan debt, and job searching. It’s just not possible.

I’ve recently realized how isolating law school is when I started studying for the bar. For me, bar prep nightmares have already started and I’m constantly stressed out. Naturally, I lean on my family and friends when I’m stressed and no one outside my law school friends seem to grasp how important it is. When I talked to Patrick about everything, his only response is to not worry because I succeed at everything that I put my mind to. Ok, so that’s mostly valid but the bar is like nothing I’ve ever done before and if the past round of results showed me, no one is immune from failing.

Even outside the bar, non-law students have a hard time understanding exactly what you have to do to be successful as a law student and future lawyer. I constantly try to make notes about judges or attorneys, network when I can, do well on exams, etc. It’s constant work and I never take time for just myself. Somehow, this blows peoples’ mind. But when you talk to other law students, they understand completely.

Law school to non-law students is just another year of school, not a completely different way of learning. How have you dealt with the isolation of law school?

Did I make a huge mistake?

Lately, I’ve been wondering if my “speed through life” plan has been a huge mistake. I’m only 22 and have taken on huge life steps and am ready for more. If everything goes according to plan, I’ll take the bar at 23. I never did Spring Break in Florida or spent an entire weekend drunk. I didn’t do irrationally stupid things or get into trouble. Instead, I’m in law school, happily married with two dogs, I like netflix binges more than binge drinking and my excitement in life is sleeping later than 7:45.

I’ve started to realize how much I missed out on and I can’t decide if I’m upset about it or just don’t care. Now, I know I don’t care about spending a weekend drunk or getting in trouble. But I feel like I missed out on rites of passage too. I’ve never gone on spring break somewhere. I’ve never done something irrationally stupid. I’ve never made out with some random guy just because. Things like that that you’re supposed to do as a young adult I’ve just never done. My priority was always my education and making sure I got what I wanted out of life.

About a year ago I realized I missed out on one thing I think is an absolute rite of passage that every single person has to do at some point. I’ve never broken up with someone or been dumped. Patrick and I have been together since I was 17 and we’ve been happy ever since. But, because of that, I never go to do the wine drinking, badmouthing boys, ice cream eating break up phase that people go through. Things like that are fine; I kicked Patrick out one night, brought over a friend, and we did that anyway. I loved being able to do that but at the same time, those other rites I haven’t gotten just don’t interest me for the most part. Does that make me crazy?

Another downside to my get through everything mentality is job interviews. Since asking someone how old they are isn’t allowed in interviews, every single interview I’ve been to beats around the bush with it. Yes, I am aware I have undergrad and law school done in 5 years. I’m aware I look young. It becomes this main thing in my interview and instead of focusing on the things I’ve done and taking them for what it’s worth, it becomes “you’ve done so much in so little time. How aren’t you overwhelmed?” or “aren’t you busy all the time?”. I know I do a lot and I’ve done a lot in a short amount of time. It is what is it. But, I do feel like I’m not trusted nearly as much as another law student may be simply because I’ve done things so fast. Who trusts a 23 year old lawyer to represent them in things that could potentially change your life? I don’t know that I would.

I could have taken the traditional route. I could have done 4 years of undergrad and 3 years of law school. I could have taken a gap year and done whatever I wanted. In the end, those things wouldn’t have made me happy. The thought of sitting in an English class in college makes me want to cry and taking on yet another full semester of law school crazy just doesn’t make sense to me. I’m motivated to get to where I want to be in life: a lawyer. I’d rather focus my attention 100% on school now and not have to worry about it until I’m 25-26 years old. I want to be able to set a good example for my younger relatives and future children. I want Patrick to be able to go to grad school when he’s ready without worrying about me being in classes too. I have all these motivations for wanting to get to the end goal quicker than a normal person. I just wonder if in the short term, it’s going to hurt me as far as waiting to accomplish any additional goals or finding a job and having an employer or client trust me. I don’t want to think my life path has been a mistake but sometimes it’s hard to stay positive with it when so many things seem to go against you for stupid reasons like this.

State of the legal world

I’ve learned a lot about myself since I started law school. One thing I’ve learned is that giving back is just as important to me as it was when I was young. I will get involved in anything I possibly can to help the community and those who need me. Seeing the legal system from an almost insider’s perspective definitely changes how I see the way things actually go. Going into law school, I expected to be changing the world or doing something good for people. The longer I’m in law school, the more I see how far from reality that is from what most lawyers actually do. Yes, all lawyers advocate for their clients and that is awesome. But at the same time, very few lawyers are able to make an actual impact on the community around them. There are pro bono but beyond that, it’s easy to lose faith in the legal world sometimes. Just like everything else, the legal world is imperfect and sometimes, those imperfections just get overwhelming and discouraging. I hope that as I get closer to the legal world and actual become a lawyer, I’ll be able to find a way to make my impact on the community around me.

Asking for help

I’ve always been really bad at asking for help with things. I just don’t like to. I want to feel independent and feel like I’m in control of my life. Even when it comes to school, I’d rather struggle and have the satisfaction of figuring it out on my own instead of asking for help. But sometimes in law school, it one of my worse traits. 

Asking for help is not a bad thing, and I do know that. When I suck it up and ask for help, I always feel better afterward. It’s never easy for me to admit to someone that something isn’t in my control, whether it be the topic in torts or not having time to clean up my apartment. I know if I ask for help, I have plenty of people willing to step up and help and I’m very grateful for that support system. 

In law school, sometimes you just have to suck it up and do what is necessary. I’ve never been one for the “you’re my professor, my tuition pays your salary” argument but in law school, the professors all genuinely WANT to help you. Law school can be a competitive time and it’s good to have people who are mostly impartial to help you along the way. If you’re like me and are too stubborn to ask, it can ruin your life but when you realize that being an adult means asking for help sometimes, life gets easier and you learn so much more about different topics, your friends, and yourself. 

Having it all

So today my (future) niece was born. I’m absolutely thrilled and loved going to the hospital to see her.

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I can’t help but be a “typical girl” and put together the timeline of when I’ll have my own baby. Don’t worry, I have zero desire to have one soon; I’m good being the awesome aunt. I just wonder if I’ll ever be able to balance my career goals with being a parent.

I have three years of law school, the Bar, then starting out in a practice. I’ve wanted to have kids somewhat early my whole life but it’s almost slipping away. Being a partner at a law firm is an ultimate goal of mine and it’s going to take a lot of work. I’m not sure how to balance that with having my own family.

For now, I’m ecstatic to have my adorable niece and the future that is ahead of me. But I can’t help but wonder if a career and family can peacefully coexist.

Early Struggles

It’s just over a week before I begin orientation for my first year. While I’m very excited, I can see the anxiety starting to get to me. It’s 12:30 and instead of sleeping like a normal person, I’m sitting up worried about what to pack to go to my parents, if I’ll make friends, etc. all incredibly trivial things in the big picture.

I sincerely hope I’m just being that kid I’ve always been near the first day of school.  Yes, I was this kid:

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Far too excited and nervous to go back to school. I hate to think this is me for every big event in life ever. Despite knowing my neighbors would kill me if I started packing right now, my mind is racing with everything that needs to be done before I leave. Only one more short week before I start a whole new chapter in my life.

Fear of the Number

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m terrible at making friends. It’s not that I’m mean or anything, I can just be quiet at first. (ok I know I’m not rainbows and sunshine all the time). Going into college I knew things were going to be difficult. I started at a tiny college in Minnesota and didn’t make a single friend my whole semester there. When I transferred, I was lucky to have some semblance of friends until I went through sorority recruitment.

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Well now my sorority sisters are 90 miles away and family even farther. I’m so lucky I have Patrick and his friends who over the past 3 years have gotten to know me fairly well.

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I still have this fear I won’t be able to relate to anyone in law school. I fast tracked undergrad because I didn’t feel like I related to anyone there. I’m only 21 (almost) and law school is a completely different ball game. I don’t have life experience and I don’t want people to take me being 21 as a negative thing.  I want friends that I can talk about ridiculous law stuff with and have them understand. There is still this nagging “what if” lingering I can’t seem to go away.