Motivated

I just finished reading chapter 11 of “1 L of a Ride,” and I am feeling motivated.

The chapter includes a case and some sample briefs, including one by the author with explanatory comments. I didn’t do the exercise where the reader is supposed to read the case and attempt a brief herself because it didn’t seem like a good use of my time when I haven’t even really begun studying for the LSAT yet. However, after reading the case and some short analysis, I was left feeling excited, stimulated, motivated.

As I was reading through the sample briefs, I loved the analysis, the pulling out of facts and setting certain pieces aside as more important than other pieces. It’s a simple, low-level analysis that I’m pretty sure is a part of any good book report, but it felt good to engage in that sort of intellectual activity, even if it is spoon-fed to me.  When I got to the end of the chapter I felt a little sad, like I was at the end of something I wasn’t prepared to be done with yet. I wanted more.

Where yesterday I was full of anxiety about the whole project, today, after reading that chapter, I am eager to begin and excited to try to make a bill-paying career out of this sort of thing. I think the lawyer was right: I love the geek things and am suited to a career that is more or less homework.

I have to try harder, study more (or even get over my fear of failure), and get started. I have to find a way to make this work.

Hesitation

In the last couple days I’ve noticed an increasing sense of fear in my approach to my law school dreams.

Am I doing the right thing? There are a lot of things I could be doing with my life. Sure, most of my educational and career choices have led down this path for nearly ten years now, but have they been misguided? A lot of what I’ve done feeds just as well into other careers, and certainly ones that require far less arduous effort and sacrifice.

Is this worth it? I can only go if I get huge scholarships, so the odds are extremely against it even happening. The studying is a sacrifice of time and effort that could be spent with my family and friends or on other things I’d enjoy more, like reading for fun, crocheting, gardening, and other things. With such a slim chance of success, and the sacrifice only paying off in that slim chance, it’s sometimes difficult to proceed.

I don’t know. But I just have to try. Even if I fail, I will always have tried my best, and in failure I’ll learn a great deal, not least of which is that this is not the path for me. If I don’t even try, then I’m letting fear and competition dictate my choices and my life, and that’s not something I’m willing to let happen. I have to be bigger than my fears of failure and humiliation. Sure, I might fail, but there’s no greater failure than not trying.

I know this, and they’re big, impressive, poster-worthy words, but I still find myself stalling, afraid to even start. I’ve read part of the introduction to the one book I’ve bought, and I’m stalling on buying the book I really need because it’s “too expensive” right now (I have the cash on hand for it, but would feel more comfortable spending it after we get paid). I’m not even reading the parts of the book I have right now because I have another book I’d like to finish first for no reason other than stalling on digging into the really tough stuff of the other book. And then there are the preptests in the book I have, but I’m afraid to see just how much work I need to do, just how bad my initial untimed first try at a full lsat preptest goes, that I won’t even let myself attempt it until I’ve read the introduction and some cursory tutorial paragraphs. Which I won’t read until I finish the other book I’ve got, because, you know, read things in order. It’s arbitrary and totally chickenshit, I know.

I will do this. I will at least try. That’s the least I owe myself.

First Books

A couple days ago I bought “1L of a Ride”, which was surprisingly difficult to find at a reasonable price because it’s required/recommended reading for so many law schools and thus has a textbook price. Today I took the oldest son to Barnes and Noble and bought “the champion of LSAT prep” and when I got home I got told my parents (my siblings already know) about my plans. Mom said it sounds “interesting” and implied that she thinks it might be a good fit for me, and dad said I make him and my kids proud. I got “The Paper Chase” ebook from my local library and read some of it on my phone while I sat in the dark and bored the kids to sleep.

I’ve out of my way with everyone I’ve talked to about this new project, relatives, friends, and even the lawyer, that it’s conditional, that I’ll only go through with it if the LSAT works out really, REALLY  well and leads to not having to borrow for law school. That way, when it doesn’t work out I don’t have to feel stupid and cowardly because I’ll have said it all along that it might not happen. I’m saving face three years in advance because I’m a chickenshit. It’s true, and I’m simultaneously ashamed and not at all ashamed.

As I was talking to my dad, I realized I can’t believe how fast time is flying. The youngest son will be one in less than three months and I am not at all prepared for it. I don’t want to let go of his infancy because I know I will desperately want a third baby for the rest of my life. I want to have again that deep, joyful feeling of being unconditionally, madly in love with a tiny thing that can in no way meaningfully reciprocate it, and it kills me that I’ll only ever get to feel that once. But the reality of it is that there is no guarantee that I will get it again or that it won’t be even worse than it was the first time.

It is time to let go, it just is. It’s time to accept that the part of my life wherein I get to be the young mother of little babies is quickly coming to an end and can never be done again. When it’s over it’s over forever and that kind of permanence is scary. It’s a death of the way things are, and it’s the birth of an uncertain new way. What if I don’t love the new, next chapter as much as I have loved this one? What if being a mother to two young children isn’t as joyful, cute, and easy as being the mother of a toddler and a little baby?

I have loved being the mother of a toddler and a baby. Loved it. It’s easy and cute and fun.  And now it’s time to get go of that. I could say that the cutoff point is the youngest son’s first birthday, but you’re still a baby at 12 months, just less so than you were three months before that. The big milestone for moving from infancy to toddlerhood, in my mind, is walking with ease and relegating diapers to sleeping times. At that point you’re past baby and marching rapidly toward child. So I guess it’s not quite time to grieve yet, but I think preparing (without panicking) will help ease the transition.

So I’m studying for the LSAT and researching law school. It keeps me busy and gives me something to look forward to. I need distraction and goals, and I get that from this step that frames my future as one of possibility and hope rather than uncertainty and loss.

First Steps

Last night I took my first steps toward a post-SAHM career: I had a social visit with our family lawyer to discuss my plans and their viability.

It began when I endorsed her on LinkedIn and she followed up thanking me and asking how things are going. I told her I had started looking ahead to what comes next for me once the kids are in school and I that I kept coming back to law school. I’d explored other possibilities and other doctoral and master’s programs but for me nothing has the allure of law. It is what I’m looking for and where my career has been headed.

Her response was not exactly enthusiastic. It’s no secret that the law profession is contracting. There are fewer applicants to law school, presumably because there are fewer law jobs available, so that makes law school a “bad investment.” It’s hard to argue with that. I think she felt it would be irresponsible to issue an enthusiastic GO FOR IT without having more information about me when I’m thinking of heading down a path that’s more difficult (though not admissions-wise: with fewer applicants, many schools are relaxing their admissions standards) and risky than it has been in a long time.

So she asked to meet me in person to find out more about me and my goals.

Long story short, it went really well. I went in expecting that she had asked to meet me so that she wouldn’t come off as unkind or dismissive in an email when she told me that it wasn’t a good idea and I should think harder and look elsewhere for fulfillment and career direction. By the time we left two and a half hours later, she was “energized” and “excited” (her actual words) and thinks I’m an “ideal law student” because my background, personality, interests, and goals align with what is possible in the field. She encouraged me to get to studying for the LSAT and offered to speak to the admissions people at the law school where she teaches about some questions I have about my timeline.

It’ll be hard. Very hard. If I weren’t afraid of law school, especially that first year, I’d be stupid. But I also believe I can do it, and if I do pursue it, that I can be successful.

So tomorrow after nap time the oldest son and I are going to the book store to pick up an LSAT logic games book and learn this stuff. Or rather, re-learn things I learned how to do in elementary school TAG and completely forgot how to do immediately.