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Law School is a Path, Not a Mountain

JD Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

My first semester of law school was one of the most nerve-racking experiences of my life. Now, for those of you who do not know me (ahem, everyone) I am not the type of person to get nervous about things. The problem was that I had built this whole experience up in my mind as some sort of a huge deal. Don’t get me wrong, it was a big deal, but for me, a person who was never supposed to make it this far, it was the ultimate achievement to even be there. So I went into school over-thinking every aspect of it.

I am sure that many of you have had the experience in which you are confident, yet unsure at the same time. Well, as I walked into orientation this is the experience that I had. On the one hand, I felt as if I were given this tremendous opportunity, and that it was my time to shine. On the other hand, coming from a poor family from which no one had ever attended college, I was afraid that I did not belong. As I walked about the room and looked at all of the faces, I thought to myself about the others there (with only slight belief) “I am on your level.” The problem was that my subconscious began to look at the upcoming year as an insurmountable mountain that I was unworthy to climb.

As the semester began, I constantly analyzed what I was doing and compared it to what I believed everyone else was doing. I never got a good night’s sleep. Even when I had a moment to myself, or with my fiancé, all I could think of was “I should be studying.” I read a lot of supplements. I read and reread cases. I basically lived and breathed school because of my insecurity. I lost a lot of precious moments in my life because I was never really there, I was constantly thinking about school.

Following the semester and final exams, I started re-evaluating my life and myself. I came to the realization that I had been killing myself, and hurting those around me. For the first time I was able to think clearly, outside of the scope of school, and found that I needed a change. I realized that I am on the other student’s plateau. I recognized that I could do well in law school and needed to accept that I belong.

The following semester, I stopped worrying about what others were doing and just found my own groove. The truth is, the persons who are involved in the admissions process know what they are doing when they evaluate who will succeed in law school. The fact that I got in was proof that I could succeed. I did not need to prove myself to the other students. All of this is not to say that I stopped working hard. Hard work always pays off and I still put in the effort, I was just able to turn it off when necessary.

Once I had this epiphany and decided to work at it my own way, my life at school became much better and a lot less stressful. I am now able to actually enjoy law school. It is no longer a mountain, it’s a just a path that will lead me to my future. To those of you starting law school, be confident in yourself. You got in because you are capable. Don’t turn this path into a mountain. Just relax; keep a routine that suits you, live your life in a healthy manner, and you will be successful.

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