April 7, 2016

How to Deal With Self Doubt in Law School

dealing with self doubt in law school | brazenandbrunette.com

As I mentioned, last semester was a whirlwind. Moving to a new city, starting at a new school, living alone for the first time, and testing out the law were all really big changes that happened all at once. But something else happened last semester that has never happened to me before. I don't mean to be a downer, but I want to be real with you so you know that you're totally normal and not alone. You're going to doubt yourself, and you're probably going to seriously consider dropping out. 

How it happens

There's main two reasons why I thought maybe law school wasn't for me—I simultaneously felt like I didn't deserve to be here and that doing something else would be a better investment of my time. 

Am I worthy of being here?

It wasn't one major thing that made me feel like I didn't belong, but a lot of little things that really stuck with me. Everyone getting excited to meet a judge who I'd never heard about. Thinking that I knew the answer in class and being completely wrong. Reading the cases, paying attention in class, and still having no clue what was going on. Having mediocre to sub-par midterm results. Noticing other students who met in study groups both before and after class. Everyone and their dog seemed to have a close connection with the legal field. It was crazy how easy it was to feel like I was just kidding myself and that everyone else were perfect law students. That part sucked.

Related: Keeping your confidence in law school

Can I afford to be here?

On top of that, there's the money issue. Although my parent's paid for my undergrad, I am paying for law school by myself. While your education sounds like a fantastic investment, you start to do the math. I realized that I could buy a brand new Range Rover or pay my tuition. And then I realized the interest on my debt. Just last semester, my Sallie Mae loan accrued over $300 of interest, and that's with me paying monthly installments already. I also noticed that my loan says my estimated payoff date is November 2028. And that's just one year's loan. I have to do this all over again for two years. On top of that, it's looking like a paid internship isn't in my future for at least another year. All of this debt starts to make you wonder if it's really worth it. 

To be honest, every time I saw an infomercial for going to paralegal school, it seemed like a better situation until I remembered what that job description entails. My school offers night classes and I had to sit down and seriously weigh the pros and cons of slowing down my graduation rate so that I could work during the day time to help off set my loans. In the end what made me decide against that is that I know that I'm the type of person who would probably use having a job as an excuse to half-ass my classes and I didn't want to risk that.

Is this the best use of my time?

Another factor that made me consider leaving school was that I saw what everyone else was doing. My newsfeed was constantly bombarded with my friends who were graduating in December announcing that they had accepted some exciting new job. To be honest, I was envious of how they were making pretty good money as I was falling deeper into debt every day. It didn't help that I would see them being able to afford to make down payments on a new car or house while I was telling myself that I don't actually need name brand cheese from the grocery store. 

Even more so, I got to see some friends follow their wildest dreams. One of the girls who I studied abroad with returned to Spain and is currently teaching english in Madrid. Another friend is a flight attendant for Emirates Airline and is in a new country every week. I felt like I was missing out on seeing the world while I still can before I have a family and career, and seriously considered postponing law school for a year or two while I took on a life adventure. It's hard seeing someone post pictures from the Eiffel Tower while you're reading a case about whether or not a deed to a house was actually handed over or not. In the end, I had to remind myself of how long law school has been my dream. It reminded me of the saying to not give up a dream for temporary pleasure. 

How it got better and why I stayed

A saying I've heard is that in law school, success is not you're driving factor- fear of failure is. This was 100% true for me. I had spent a whole year casually letting every one that I met know that I was going to law school, and telling them that I couldn't finish it would've been devastating. I've always been known as the smart girl, so admitting defeat would be extremely embarrassing. Basically I had no choice but to "fake it until you make it." 

Eventually this happened for me. Three people answered a professor's question wrong and then when I answered correctly my professor actually let out a sigh of relief and said, "Yes! That's exactly what I was looking for." I got a paper back from my LRW professor with a note about how normally legal analysis is a student's weakest area in legal writing, but it was my strong suit. Not everyone can be perfect at everything, and you have to remember to not compare yourself to other students because even the girl on the Dean's list has her weak areas.

Lastly, I ended up adopting a cat. I know sounds cheesy saying that a cat helped me de-stress. I know it sounds very single admitting that I live alone and have a cat. Oh well. My cat ended up being great because very often I'll be reading a case and he'll just plop himself down on a book. It's hard to be mad at a little fluff ball so I end up taking a little break to pet or play with him. What's nice is that cats change their minds fast so after about 5 minutes of attention, he's over me and wants a nap, and I can get back to studying. 

He also helped with my motivation because as much as I'd like to stay in bed until noon, I'll have him head nudging me to get up and get him breakfast. Then I'm forced to get dressed and take out his litter. Since I'm already awake and dressed, it's a lot easier for me to get started with my day and be a little more productive. I'm not saying that if you're having a hard time at school to get a pet, but I am saying that I personally believed that he was a little help. 

Related: Why I almost dropped out of law school

Final Thoughts

During one of my pre law fraternity meetings, we had law students come talk to us about what to expect. One girl stood out to me when she said, "Make sure that you love the law 110% so that when law school knocks you down, you still love it 100%." The leap of faith from undergrad to law school is MUCH bigger than the leap from high school to college. If you start to notice yourself in a slump, remember that a law school had enough faith in you to admit you and that you're following your dream. Also, a lawyer spoke to my WLA about doubting yourself as a young lawyer, so apparently this is kinda like a reoccurring thing. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? 

dealing with self doubt in law school | brazenandbrunette.com


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