January 30, 2005

A Real Life

My work in chambers feels like a job. A Real Job. Like what I do actually matters in the world. Along with that comes the feeling that I'm competent, unique, doing a good job, and don't need to compete with anyone to be certain of those things. I was unaware that law school deprived me of the feelings of satisfaction and easy identity that working has always provided me. It's an interesting revelation.

I've met international strangers in my travels and had several conversations about how the United States is more a nation of "what do you do?" than "who do you know?" "where are you from?" or "what do you like?" Each focus has its drawbacks but when you're steeped in a culture, sometimes you forget that there are options. I've almost incessantly been employed since the age of 15, with the brief exception of 2 months living and studying in Italy. This is the first time in my life when I've been a full time post-secondary-school student. It's decadent. It also messes with my head more than I realized.

Now that I've got regular hours and a regular, fairly predictable work load (ah, the beauty of volunteering instead of being an actual employee), I've got a much more committed social life, a to do list that I'm tackling each week which is filled with non-law-school priorities, and travel plans for at least one weekend every month this year.

I'm happier. And I'm one of the ones who likes law school. I really do. I enjoy the rigor, the focus, the reading, the things I've learned, the professors, the whole shebang. But now that I'm on reprieve, I must admit: It is a grueling experience. If you listen to E, it's much more demanding than I let myself admit, and as a consequence, I'm visibly more irritated, unhappy, and unpleasant.

These days, I'm learning just as much in chambers as I would in class. I leave work with a fatigued brain only to dream about the cases that I'm on. But, despite what looks like similarities to law school, I'm more balanced (for starters, I'm making time to train for my race), I feel like what I'm doing is much more valuable to the world at large than book learning (maybe because it is?), and of course, I have more spare time than when I'm in class so my overall quality of life is higher.

I suspect this says something about the law school model and its failings. But I'm too tired to follow the thought to completion...

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