Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the child that you have stolen. For my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom is as great, and you have no power over me. —Sarah, Labyrinth (1986)
I met a gal last year at a party. She was a 2L (2nd year law student) at the University of Oregon, and I told her I was considering going to law school. After I told her what my goals were, with regard to practicing law, she admitted my ideas were sound ones and good reasons for proceeding with the process. “But I warn you,” she said. “You’re going to be dealing with egos the size of which you have never seen before.”
That, as it turns out, seems to be the universal reaction. “Don’t do it,” my friend Davis said. “But if you do, keep in mind what you want.” “Don’t let the bastards grind you down,” another friend said. “Go to Lewis and Clark,” another attorney friend said. “I loved going to the U of O, but Lewis & Clark prepares its students for the business side of the profession and has a LOT better career counseling.”
There’s a video, made by students and faculty at the University of Calgary faculty of law. “Dear 16 year old me,” it starts. “It’s called law school. It’s where insecure overachievers go to do something with their bachelor of arts.” “Get counseling,” they say. To get over your daddy issues, your insecurity issues, your need to be validated, your need for praise.
And, of course, there are the law school blogs and YouTube videos, all saying how much law school sucks. Like really, really, really sucks. And you know what it reminds me of? Labyrinth, where the professors are Jareth, school is the labyrinth, and we’re the muppets & Sarah.
I’m crossing the bog of eternal stench, threats be damned. It’ll stink and some of my crossing mates will whine about it, but come the fuck on. We chose this journey. If you are so naive as to think it’s going to be easy, that you’re not going to be reduced to tears by some egomanaical dictatorial professor, you are fooling yourself. Turn back now. Go back to whatever job it was you had before you started, making the same amount of money as you will in three years (if you’re lucky enough to land a job at all), and save yourself the trauma.
I went to grad school. I’m no stranger to egos and classmates who need to be right all the time. I’m going to law school for reasons that are, according to people who actually practice law, quite solid. I’m not going to fool myself into thinking the next three years are going to be easy, but I don’t give a shit about what grades other people get, how many hours other people spend in the library. I don’t even know what my GPA from my MA program was. It was good enough to get into (and get a dean’s scholarship from) the only school to which I applied, and that’s all I need to know. Also, I’ve had quite a bit of therapy and I have dealt with my daddy issues & my need for external praise very well, thanks. I’ve lived through way worse than some limp-dicked academic trying to make me look stupid in front of my peers.
Yeah, I’ll probably cry in the washroom. And then I’ll wipe my face, draw my shoulders back, and remind myself that 24.5 hours of pitocin-aided, unmedicated labor is harder than law school. That surviving & extricating myself from an abusive marriage is harder than law school. That being the caretaker for a dementia-addled grandparent who thinks I’m my mother is harder than law school. That doing the latter two things, and raising my two young children, in the wake of my own mother’s death is harder than law school, so chin the fuck up, get back in there, and shine, because failure never is and never was and never will be an option.
I fought my way here. My courage is great, and fear, ego, and uncertainty have no power over me.