This is a post that's near and dear to my heart, because my first semester was rough emotionally. I don't say this to scare you, because it shouldn't. I've talked before about how, for the most part, law school isn't that bad. One way I guess I could describe it is when you have a hard work out for the first time in forever. You don't think you can do it. Your mind keeps trying to give you every reason to quit. People on the outside give you this "poor you" look. It's not fun. But afterwards, you look back on it and realize that it wasn't too terrible and that you can do it all over again the next day. Like that saying It Seems Impossible Until It's Done.
Accept the fear of the unknownThe worst part going in to law school is that all you hear are the horror stories and the "get out while you still can" jokes, and nothing can really help you be prepared. It's stressful at first because you never know if what you're doing is correct or even good enough. TBH, this gets a little better after the first few weeks once you get into the flow of class, but really doesn't go away until after your first finals when you've gone over your test. Then you'll know exactly where you stand in comparison to your classmates, what professors expect, and what you need to do to improve.
I wish there was something more than just "take it day by day" that I could say that would make you feel better, but there's not. BUT, you can take solace in knowing that everyone else in your
Remember that you're new to thisSo if someone around you uses a legal phrase or mentions a judge and you're just sitting there like Ha ha ha yeah mhmm I know exactly what you mean ha ha ha... that's ok! You're not any behind these people, they're just overachieving. When I got to law school I didn't even really know the difference between a trial court and appellate court, or even what case law is.
This is law school, a place where you're presumed to come in knowing nothing and to learn about the law. Think back to Kindergarten -- if you showed up not fully knowing your ABC's or the names of all the colors then that was totally ok because that's what you were there to learn.
Stop comparing yourselfWithout sounding harsh, there's always going to be someone better than you. That's a fact of life. The great thing about law school is when you see someone who you think OMG they are so good at this mess up on something that feels so common sense to you. Sounds bitchy, but really it's just a little validation that you're not the stupidest person in the room (it's a common feeling).
The biggest thing I want to stress (and don't know how to do this without seeming bitchy, so sorry), is that just because someone acts like they have everything together in class does not mean that they are any better than you. This sounds very guidance counselor cheesy, but not everyone learns the same. You could be just as smart as the eager beavers in class, but when you start comparing how they dress/behave/participate, you'll start to think that they're ahead of you and it can wreck your confidence.
Give up on perfectionismI feel like law school tends to be packed full with Type A perfectionists who have always been the best. I mean you didn't get in to law school by barely scraping by in undergrad. The problem is that law school is basically rigged to where your best is never good enough thanks to the curve. At the beginning this sounds really scary like oooh you're probably going to be a C student and can make you freak out.
First, have solace in the fact that it is statistically as hard to fail as it is to get an A, so at least you shouldn't flunk out. Second, just accept the fact that a B or even a C in law school is nothing to be embarrassed about. Your goal should just be to survive the first semester, and then the second semester to improve your grades a little in each class (so like a C+ to a B-). If you're too focused on being the top of your class then you're going to miss this important step on improving yourself!
Stay focused on your goals
Don't stress yourself out by pressuring yourself, but do set goals and work to achieve them. Don't think of law school as one big competition of you against everyone else, but think of it as you trying to better yourself—similar to when you decide to eat better in order to be healthier, but not because you are trying to be the healthiest person at your school.