September 22, 2017

The Time I Almost Dropped Out of Law School

Sometimes law school is tough. Here's why I stayed | brazenandbrunette.com

Well guys this post is about two years coming and every time I've sat down to write it I've ended up changing my mind because I don't want to scare off any potential law students. My opinion is that there's enough people out there saying don't go to law school that I want to be that one voice saying yes go and follow your dreams! But the reality of life is that there's bumps along the way of following your dreams, so I thought I'd share my story so that people can be somewhat prepared for the bumps or feel comforted that they're not alone if they're already having bumps. Also, for all of you who have read my old-old posts, you'll notice this writing style is back to how I used to write because it's more in diary form than law school advice form #flashbackfriday Buckle up because it's about to get real personal.

Stressor #1

This story takes place during the first semester of my 1L year which I think is by far the hardest semester of school that you'll encounter. It's a major adjustment and you're so nervous/insecure. In my Legal Research and Writing class, my professor's syllabus said that all assignments are due by 5PM and you are only allowed one late submission and anything after that is a missed assignment. This would've been fine except for on our first real day of class we were supposed to read a short case and make a brief over it, print it out and bring it to class so that our professor can make sure we know how to brief properly. But true story, I was planning on printing my brief while I was in the library over my lunch break but then ended up having a photo shoot for this pic and completely forgot and showed up to class without it. A few other students forgot too and my professor was like that's fine just email it to me and this is your one late paper. Then a few weeks later we had our first research assignment. I completed the assignment just fine but then that night at like 11:45 I'm sitting on my couch watching TV and I realize omfg I forgot to email in that assignment before 5!! FYI- this is why I tell you to set alarms for due dates. Since I'd already used my one late pass, I figured I'd just bite the bullet and take the 0. I'm a decent writer so I was pretty confident that this wouldn't fail me but I was still stressing about how this would affect my GPA and class rank which could compromise my chances of transferring. 

Stressor #2

Then we had a midterm test in Property. This was my only midterm that semester that counted as a grade and wasn't just to see how the class was doing. My professor made this 20% of our grade and it was all about future interests because he said that's always what people bomb on the final so we'd get it out of the way and not have to worry about it. Let me tell y'all something, I'm terrible at future interests. It was actually what I had to talk about during my very first law school cold call and let's just say it wasn't exactly smooth sailing. So yeah, I spent like a week watching videos and taking quizzes on Quimbee but the light bulb wasn't coming on. I thought I did okay on the test until we got our grades back. Out of 15 questions, I got 7 right, which I thought wasn't too bad until I overheard other classmates complaining because they only got 12 right and heard that a few students had gotten 14 right. When you put this on a curve, I might as well have only gotten 3 right if literally everyone else did better than me. Then I got to thinking about how bad I was going to do on the final that covers all the topics if I did this badly on a midterm that covered just one topic. 

Stressor #3

After this, back in my LRW class we were just starting to do research for our memo that we were going to spend the rest of the semester working on. Obviously since we were all new to this we all had a lot of questions for my professor and he kept referring us back to the syllabus. This is when I found something terrible. Quick back story, apparently at my old school they had had a problem with people not taking their Legal Research and Writing class seriously and treating it more like a blow-off class since it's only one hour. Their solution to this was to make a rule that if you miss any assignment then you can't take the final so essentially you're forced to fail the class. AND GUESS WHO HAD MISSED AN ASSIGNMENT. Yeah, that's right. And in the Spring you continue LRW with the same classmates and professor and work on your brief. So if I failed LRW 1, I couldn't take LRW 2 in the Spring and would have to completely retake the whole thing and be a year behind on my writing requirement. Plus failing a class tanks your GPA and ranking so now my goal of transferring was completely out the window. 

Panic

So needless to say, my literal failing of my Property midterm topped off with my inevitable failing of LRW as a whole hit me really hard and obviously I didn't take it well. I called my friends bawling and when they would offer the typical "It's okay everything will be alright" I screamed back at them about how everything would in fact not be all right because I was going to fail out of law school my first semester. Here I was in a new city 9 hours away from my family stuck with $30k of debt already and a year-long lease. Plus I had no back-up plans. I mean I was a Spanish major who wasn't fluent so like what kind of job was I going to do?? And I kept thinking about how disappointing it would be to tell my parents that I couldn't even make it four months in law school and how embarrassing it would be when everyone found out that I flunked out. TBH, this is the real reason why I stopped blogging. I was in no position to give advice and was too embarrassed to admit reality to myself let alone blast it on the Internet.

Struggling

This was also at a time where one of my friends was in the last semester of grad school and worrying about graduation/finding a job, another friend was just starting grad school and busy studying all the time, and another had just joined a new student org and gotten a job, two were having their college classes finally start to get hard, and my parents and sister were trying to plan her wedding that was in a few months. I just felt like my whole support system was too busy for me and definitely didn't understand what it's like to be in law school

Later when I met up with the guy who's essentially the guidance counselor at my school (post recapping that coming soon) I actually found out that I had been experiencing signs of depression. I was going through the motions of school but would just sit through class waiting for it to be over so I could go home; I just didn't see the point in putting in effort when I knew it was all about to be over. I stopped volunteering in class or chatting with my classmates. Since everyone in my life was really busy and I lived alone, I would go literal days without even talking out loud. It got to be extremely lonely. And then when one of my best friends was going to come see me while she was visiting her sister, I just ditched her because I couldn't make myself pretend like I wasn't dying on the inside. On the weekends I would lay in bed all day just staring at the ceiling. It even got so bad that I completely lost my appetite and I'm usually a stress eater. The only reason why I would eat was because I would get such bad headaches and get light headed so I had to force myself to eat a piece of toast and would gag at the thought of food. I also would take sleeping pills and go to bed at 10 but would just lay there wide awake until the sun came up and feel shitty and tired all the next day but still couldn't sleep. I completely lost myself and didn't know what to do. Literally the only reason why I didn't just go in to the registrar's office and withdraw is because I had no other plan and couldn't bring myself to give up on my dream even when it felt like it was giving up on me.

Light at the end of the tunnel

Finally one day after class I got the courage to go up to my LRW professor and literally with tears in my eyes explained to him what happened with that first assignment and begged him to let me submit it so I wouldn't fail the class. Luckily this professor was really chill and super sweet and was like yeah just email me! And my whole world improved. And then in Property, we started going over real property. Y'all I've been an HGTV addict for over a decade and so I already knew alllll of this stuff! Leases, HOA fees, real estate agent duties. It was so easy for me to learn! So I decided to try really really hard for that last month and cried actual tears of joy when I got a B- in my LRW class and a C+ in Property (there was still a lot I wasn't so great on). I just couldn't believe how the semester had turned around from me thinking I was going to flunk out to me somehow getting my shit together and ending in the top half of my class ranking. I have literally never felt happier or more proud of myself than when I realized that I had survived that semester. 

The moral of this saga is that there will be bumps. Admittedly, I didn't handle mine that well but I had no clue what to do. My only advice to you is don't give up and keep trying. I'm so glad that I didn't drop out (even if I was barely mentally there for a few weeks) because now here I am. I wouldn't have been able to transfer schools or have this blog or any of the other many wonderful things that's happened in my life since then if I would have just thrown in the towel. Also, use me as an example and realize that pretty much everyone around you in class, even the ones who seem like they have their life together, are struggling in one way or another because law school is literally hard for everyone. Remember that you're not alone and you're not a failure when you hit those bumps. Just anchor down and ride out the storm when it gets hard and believe in yourself no matter what. Ok... stepping off my soapbox now, but if any of you are having a rough time, just know that I'm always a comment, email, or message away and I'll be here for you because I know what it's like!!
let's be friends!

4 comments:

  1. I'm in my first semester. Reading this brought a lot of tears. Thank you so much. I needed this

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    1. Ha I'm glad that you're already in law school so reading this couldn't scare you away :) I feel like everyone has to have their 1L breakdown and then once you have that and get over it, things start to look up and be easier! I hope that if you ever have a hard time while you're in law school that you remember that a temporary setback is only supposed to be temporary!

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  2. Thank you for sharing such a personal post about your 1L struggle. This was so good to read at the beginning of my 1L year!

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    1. Thanks Jordyn! It was such an easy post to write because I had so much to say but I really was nervous that someone might read this and be like yep nope I don't want to go to law school, so thanks for the encouragement that it wasn't TOO much!

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