Wednesday, March 11

Law School & Insecurity


One of the more difficult parts of being in law school is the insecurity that comes with the territory from time to time.

I mean, let's be honest - not a lot of people get into law school in the first place if they're not smart. In fact, typically law school admissions are hard enough that only really smart people get in. And my natural inclination is to go, "I must have slipped through the cracks."

Not that I don't think I'm smart, but I've always gotten slightly-above average grades. Nothing spectacular. My LSAT score wasn't anything to write home about, and I had a spelling mistake in my law school admissions essay, which, naturally, I only found about a month after I sent everything in. I am, by all accounts, a fine student... but law school makes it easy for us to judge ourselves harshly compared to the people around us.

In a way, I was lucky. I grew up with smart friends and went to college with smart friends. I never got the best grades out of the group, and I didn't have any pretensions about being "better" than anyone else. Coming to law school, I didn't expect to be the smartest person in my class. Honestly, I was just excited to be here and be one step closer to making a difference. 

I go to a school where we aren't ranked, but I still catch myself comparing myself to other people from time to time. Sometimes I've felt stupid, or less-than, or wondered why I was here. Sometimes, even now, I wonder if I slipped through the cracks. There have been many times in law school where I wondered if I was smart enough, or tough enough, or even just enough.

Thankfully, I learned early on in law school that comparing myself to my classmates was not helpful... and that so much of how you feel depends on your attitude.

I choose to be inspired by the smart, capable, fun people around me. I choose not to be jealous or envious of other people's talents. I choose to be glad for my friends who get better grades.

The fact is, as great as your classmates may be, you got into law school too. You're here because, for some reason, you wanted to be here, and a lot of people believed you would succeed - that you were a good investment.

I had a mock interview a few weeks ago where one of the interviewers asked me, "Well, your GPA is average. What sets you apart? What makes you special?" That, my friends, is the question, isn't it? My GPA is me compared to my classmates. What else do I, specially, have to offer?

As it turns out, I have a lot to offer. I have a passion for helping people and for seeking justice. I'm emotionally attune to other people, and I can usually tell how other people are feeling without them saying a word. I love to write, and I'm pretty good at it. I love to learn, and I am constantly trying to improve myself. I'm determined and stubborn, but also sweet and genuine. I care deeply about making this world a better place.

It's easy to compare yourself to other people in law school, but you are unique. You have a skill set and personality that no one else has, and you can improve your skills that still need work. You bring something to the table that your classmates do not. You are not a failure because someone is better than you in an area.  I deserve to be here, and so do you. 

Instead of comparing yourself to your classmates, try to focus on your own work and skills and knowledge. Do your best with what you have. Give your best efforts - not to do better than the person next to you, but to learn the most you can while you're here. Learn how to be the best lawyer you can be... and part of that is knowing when to say, "I don't know," instead of pretending you do.

If anything, look at your classmates and peers for inspiration. They might be doing the same for you.


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