It’s almost 5AM on a Monday morning in late July. Seems like a normal Monday for everyone else, but for my class and I, this is our last day before we take the Texas Bar Exam. To say it’s been a rough few months is an understatement. We’ve been studying for the bar, finishing up classes, applying for jobs, and in my case getting ready to move halfway around the world. It’s been stressful, humbling, soul-crushing, confidence breaking, and for me, the best seven months of my life. I’ve cried. I’ve screamed. I’ve literally set things on fire. I’ve also learned how to laugh in the dark moments, the ones that made me doubt who I am and what I’m about.
So a little background about my job and chosen profession. I am currently a law student. That means I basically survive on coffee or other caffeine sources, haven’t read anything other than newspapers and law books in two and a half years, and get compulsively specific with language. Case in point… the other day my non-law school friend said that he felt a tweet “conclusively proved something.” I corrected him saying, “well I wouldn’t say conclusively but I would say the tweet was suggestive.” I rolled my eyes at myself. I haven’t really had a full night of sleep in two and a half years, and this year with all its twists and turns hasn’t really improved that front. So why go through all this horseshit? Why put up with the constant bullshit of getting yelled at by professors, feeling embarrassed for not knowing an answer, denying ourselves sleep, and becoming more obnoxious versions of ourselves? Well for some, the median salary of an attorney is worth it. And I guess that’s nice. It’s nice to know I at least have a fighting chance at financial security. For me the money was never the draw.
I’m not proud to admit that I went to law school because I wanted justice for myself. When it really came down to it, I didn’t give a flying fuck about other people. I went because I was denied the opportunity to get on the stand and point at the men who sexually assaulted me and force them to admit that they did it. I wanted justice. I am proud to say that, that need hasn’t driven my actions for years. As soon as I got to law school, I fell in love with the law. I see the law as a vehicle for helping people, a vehicle for justice for others, not myself. I know that sounds nauseatingly douchy, but it’s true. Throughout my time in law school I’ve been given opportunities to help people through the worst times of their lives: facing the prospect of jail time, trying to get their university help them recover from an on campus assault, helping an abused wife get out of her dangerous situation. I have a gift for helping people in these moments.
I am cool under pressure. Supervisors ask how I do it. Lawyers have notoriously high rates of alcoholism, drug addictions, extra-marital affairs, divorce, suicide, depression, anxiety, anxiety-induced health conditions like heart attack and stroke… the list of how our job is ruining our lives is seemingly endless. The past seven months have really shown me why. My class was put through the paces of humiliation and despair, the usual hazing ritual of Baylor Law School. I’m definitely not claiming to have been perfect. I survived. And that is enough.
I’ve been through some serious shit. I’ve been through things that made me think that it was the end, that I didn’t have the ability to make it to the next day. I’ve had the thought that life wasn’t worth living anymore, that being dead was better than my current existence. I’ve felt like a waste of space and oxygen. I’ve wondered, quite often, why I was even put here on this Earth. I’ve known the soul-crushing disappointment of losing a life dream. I’ve known the uphill climb of reinventing myself over and over and over again. Exams, even the bar exam, have nothing on the experiences I’ve had. And that’s how I knew I’d make it, regardless of how ugly and tumultuous the process was.
Not every memory is a good one. We all have the things that keep us up at night or pain our soul to think about. We have moments that are so painful, that our minds have worked on complex ways of avoiding thinking about them. But these bad times of our lives set us up for what we are born to do. The bad times are the ones that harden our skin into armor. The uphill battles are the ones that make us truly believe we can do anything we set our minds to. Whatever you are currently going through, I want everyone to know that it isn’t the end. You will come out the other side. You might come out with scars and battle wounds. You will be stronger. You will live to fight another day.