“Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work, driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get to a job that you need so you can pay for the clothes, car and the house that you leave empty all day in order to afford to live in it.” –Ellen Goodman.
Being a lawyer is exciting, challenging, fast-paced, glamorous, and enlightening. However, being a lawyer is also mentally and physically exhausting, unpredictable, convoluted, and really, really stressful, with a sprinkle of impostor syndrome on top of every single thing you do.
Some days, I walk on cloud nine, proud of myself and so in love with the opportunities I have and the work I get to do. Other days, I hold back tears all day long, beating myself up over the stupid decision to go to law school all those years ago. (A decision that was most likely influenced by growing up constantly hearing that lawyer and doctor are my only career options.)
One of those networking-type questions I hate the most is – Why did you become a lawyer? Or, when did you know you wanted to be a lawyer? Because the unscripted, unrehearsed answer to that question would be – I have no f*cking idea. The scripted, rehearsed answer is always some version of: I want to save the world. (Yes, really. I really believed this when I graduated from law school in 2016. Watch from 37:15 on for the speech of a naive, uncorrupted soul: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6O_NYmUaHtc&t=2601s)
Today, I am a second year associate, which means I have completed my bachelor’s degree, juris doctor degree (3-year program), interned at my current law firm, took the state bar (two-day, approx. 12-hour exam), passed the state bar, and am now in my second year of practice. All throughout those years and stepping stones, I cannot count how many times I have questioned my career path and “whether it was all worth it.” Am I the only one?
The quote above and phrases like – “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life” are everywhere these days. I can’t tell if that is because of social media, or what seems like a sudden explosion of entrepreneurs, etc., but it has made me question everything, even more than I normally do.
My biggest fear is living life, dreading Monday through Friday, just hanging on by a thread, waiting for Saturday and Sunday, only to blink and be right back at dreading Monday again. THAT. SOUNDS. AWFUL. And to be honest, some weeks, I’m already there… feeling anxious and depressed Sunday night, only to self-medicate with wine during the week.
Do people really grow up to become what they always dreamed of? That sounds nice, like some little fairy tale, but I can’t even remember what I used to say when I was a kid… “When I grow up, I want to be a ____________.” Do you?
I have decided that my most important long-term goal is to stop living paycheck to paycheck, weekend to weekend, vacation to vacation.
The only question now is… how?