A fellow law student introduced herself to me last night as someone who reads my blog. 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 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.
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