Monday, October 26, 2015

Why I Chose Not to Go To Law School

Something I struggle with in both my personal and professional lives is the acceptance of imperfection in myself. I have always felt as though I have an image in my head of how everything is supposed to be - my life, my house, my appearance - and I am constantly striving to achieve those things. I am not sure where this image came from of what I believed my life would look like at age 23, but it isn't exactly what I have. Don't get me wrong, every day that I wake up I count myself fortunate to be able to have legs that work, a nice house to live in, a loving family, and always enough food to eat. However lack of satisfaction is more a disappointment in myself that I could not achieve all of the things I felt I was supposed to. I am constantly striving to do better (not always a bad thing) and to fulfill the image I have of myself and others have of me.

All throughout school I worked diligently on my education, and graduated from grammar school, high school, and college with high honors. This was a way for me to measure my worth, something I could point to on my down days and say "But look what you've accomplished!" After the fanfare of graduating college had died down, there were suddenly no more grades to receive, no more scholarships to win or honor societies to join, and I was honestly at a loss. Despite my internships throughout college, I did not have a job waiting for me after graduation and suddenly I was sitting with nothing to do while my friends moved forward with their lives. So one day I thought "Hey I'll take the LSAT and see what happens. "

What happened was that I had plenty of time to prepare for the test, so I did pretty well. So I thought "Well I guess I'll just apply to some schools and see what happens." So I did. And I was accepted into every school I applied to, including my dream school USC, with scholarships.  The whole thing kind of snowballed and, after almost moving to LA, I found myself at Fordham Law School's orientation day. I quit my job at Nickelodeon, bought a bunch of heavy case books, and went to class. And I hated it. It's terrifying to hate something you've already invested so much time and money in, but I did. I was miserable between my 4 hour round trip commute, the texts that I had zero experience with, and my desire to just return to working in television. My decision to attend law school stemmed from all the wrong reasons. I wanted to make money, I wanted to be respected, I wanted to add another degree to my resume, and I wanted to return to the validation of school. I did not have a passion for the law or a passion to help the wronged and defend the accused.

I have always heard people say to worry more about being passionate about your work and less about the money but that is easier said than done. I saw law school as a means to an end. To be able to live a comfortable life financially. I thought doing something you felt passionate about was only for people in the arts or the person who runs a small cafe in a cutesy town in a Hallmark movie. I learned this lesson quickly though and it hit me hard. I found myself talking about my love for television  and the industry and the wonderful people I worked with, while others talked about their jobs as paralegals and childhood dreams of being lawyers. It had been in front of my face for months but I hadn't wanted to hear it.  The idea of law school fit into the perfect image I created for myself, scholar, successful career woman. But there were other things I wanted to be now - wife, mother, dog-owner, runner, maybe writer! - but I would not have time for these things. Why would I sacrifice the things I enjoyed for the thing that I didn't truly care about, just so I could appear perfect? I don't think anyone even really cared that much about this standard I held myself to.

So after a few days of mental breakdowns and consulting everyone I knew, I decided to withdraw. Luckily I was able to get back my full tuition minus the fees and cost of books, but I was left with the simultaneous feelings of relief and utter and complete failure. I thought about what people would say and where I would go from there and what I would do with all of my free time. After a few days of freedom and agony I got a call from my former supervisor at Nickelodeon. I had let them know I had changed my mind about law school and was interested in returning to television, and by some miracle, they had a freelance position open in the same department I used to intern in, with the same people I had just worked with a month prior. I said yes before she could finish describing the position and immediately knew I had made the right choice. I returned a few days later and ended up sitting in a cubicle right across from the one I used to occupy. This may seem like one step forward and two steps back to some, but to me it felt more like I had veered off course and was now back on the right track.

I find myself now at another turning point. My freelancing contract is coming to an end in a couple of weeks and I am once again facing the unknown in my career. I am not as afraid as I was though, because I now know I am at least headed in the correct direction. I have learned that it is okay to choose something you enjoy and care about over something that fits into a perfect image, and that things have a way of working out. I hope that, armed with this knowledge, I will be able to make positive choices for myself and put in the hard work to build something strong and solid in my career, even if it's not what I thought it would be.

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