Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Real Law School-Related Post

A fellow law student introduced herself to me last night as someone who reads my blog. ** Hi Mary! ** We started talking about some of the challenges of having a family while going to law school, whether the family is a wife and human kids, or a spouse and furry kids, there are still sacrifices all around. Sometimes decisions are made, and other times they are forced upon us by circumstances, to put off parts of our life, or lose touch with friends, or not be as present for our family as we'd like. People tend to not talk about the emotional toll that the sacrifices take - on us as students, and on our partners, children, animals, and others. First year especially is kind of a mind-game and it forces us to call into question a lot of our own priorities and values. I think that is easier to see in retrospect than when you are going through it, and probably easier to value in retrospect, too.

I think more folks should be honest and open in their communication with others about what they are experiencing emotionally - at home, with friends, and maybe people would feel less alone. I know I've found a few people similarly situated and it has been nice to know we're all going through the same challenges, but not everyone is as up front, or has that kind of support. As lawyers-in-training we are taught to put on this all-knowing, in control-facade and it does us a disservice as students. The fake it till you make it mentality is necessary in the real world, but with each other, sometimes we just need to admit that we feel like we've been hit by a fleet of moving trucks. We are tough, or we wouldn't be in law school; we will bounce back, but sometimes the long hours, the studying, and the competing demands take their toll.

A lawyer recently gave me some advice about studying for the bar. She said that everyone around me will be saying they are doing great, all is going well, and the truth is that for most people, that is not really how they will be feeling. She said not to let that behavior psych me out. It ended up that most of the people she knew were actually uncertain and nervous while studying for the bar. So, it is OK to let our guard down sometimes, admit that what we are doing is often tough, even it if is mostly because we haven't seen our partner or children all week and almost nodded off twice in class.

(I am personally doing great this week, this is just a topic that came up in discussion that I thought was post-worthy.


Lynilu said...

It really helps to know that we are not in the mire alone, for sure. I think the trick is to find the balance between being honest, saying what is real and maintaining one's balance v. saying the truth and allowing it to begin a downward spiral if we buy into "the truth" too much. It is important to believe "this, too, shall pass."

Monogram Queen said...

I am finding myself getting sucked into what/where others are in my classes and i've just got to STOP it. It gets me nowhere!

Dakota said...

Lynilu -
Good point. No one wants to be around someone who is always whining. I am just advocating for a harder, honest look for students before they start school, and during school. It's OK to admit that this is difficult for reasons other than the classwork - and then, as you suggest, move on.

Mongram Queen - You are absolutely right! Still, we were raised with that competitive mindset, and are graded against everyone else, so it is hard not to buy into the game. Remember though, your game, as a working mom is not the same as the 20-something singles with no kids and part-time job (if that).

Mary said...

Hello! I've never been name-dropped in a blog before--very rad!