Monday, December 22, 2014

Prove yourself

It was 2007. Just a few months prior UF students were rallying for me with signs in the middle of the law school courtyard. We were making a statement, raising awareness of the controversial practices of the LSAT administration that were not fair to individuals with disabilities. The message was clear- a person is not a number. I fought hard for my place in my second Florida law program. I've met with anyone and everyone who could have influenced law school decision to prove my worth. I campaigned hard for myself to have them that I want this, that I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get there, that I'm ambitious and I'm skilled, that I have what they're looking for. That their decision before was wrong and I was just as good as everybody else. I was so focused fighting for my own cause that I didn't stop to think what would happen if I actually get it. So when it did I was left with doubt. It was probably just me working myself in my own mind, but for the first semester or two I put some extra pressure me. I felt there were people at the school who felt I didn't deserve to be there, that I was unworthy. I also wandered what some of the instructors thought of me being there. They had to had known who I was, it was in the papers. I also felt the need to prove myself to the people  who accepted me that this time around  they made the right decision. Just a few months before, the Dean made some pretty harsh remarks to the Gainesville Sun. Who knows who thought what? I could say if I got here, does it really matter how? But I wanted to prove to all that my cause was just, that it made sense for me to champion it, that for the lack of a better word, I arrive vindicated. And a thought crossed my mind, "What if I'm not a success here?", maybe I don't really "deserve" anything. Maybe I'm not as good as I think. I never thought what was probably true, that nobody really cared either way, that everybody had a story and all that mattered was where we would take this next. It made me work harder, but also second guess myself at times and it sucked plenty of fun out of the experience. It wasn't until my third semester that I fully came to my academic prominence. I was named to the Dean's List twice in a row and I got a couple of book awards- highest honors in a class. What it took was time and being able to relax and let go of any actual and imagined expectations. I remembered this, as I met with one of my younger friends- who just started last semester at one of Florida's law schools. He was frustrated. Some of his grades were not as he imagined, why could he have cracked it? He's a smart guy and he's used to being on top of the class. And I've had a few C's, well, C+'s on my record as well. Some of those were worth as much as B's or B+'s with some other professors. I appreciate them still for the learning experience. Just because you don't get a top (or second to top) grade doesn't mean that you're not good enough. Sometimes it means as little as performing worse than somebody else on a test on a given day, simple as that. On some other tests, on some other days, you'll perform better. You're in a class with some other bright, talented, hungry people who are just as good as you. And five, ten years from now it will not even matter what grade you got on some insignificant exam. You get good grades, you get worse grades. But all that matters is that you get through it, finish, pass the Bar (for which the law school doesn't really prepare you for either) and you try to have some fun while you're doing it. Being able to transfer in 24 credits from my other program saved me a lot of money, but meant that I would not have that first year bonding experience with others in my section. I wish it's something I've known at the time. I was eager to be done, that I let a lot of things pass me by. Don't push yourself too hard. Don't set impossible standards that nobody can ever meet, don't drive yourself insane. You're already here. You have nobody to impress and nothing to prove. Enjoy you're life, you have only one.

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