Inspirational · Law School

How are you ever going to know your limit if you never push yourself?

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

I’ve always been a sensitive soul, and I’m very, very hard on no one but myself. We only have ourselves to blame, right? My mom used to jokingly tell me that she never had to discipline me because I always understood what I did wrong, and did a pretty good job of disciplining myself for it. The worst was if I received a  “B” on a paper. I’d get so angry at myself. “Jen, seriously? A “B?” What were you thinking about when you wrote that paper?” I know what you’re thinking, “That’s just crazy…a “B” isn’t a bad grade.” But it wasn’t that. I knew I was capable of getting A’s. Everyone is. You just have to push yourself. How are you ever going to know your limit if you never push yourself? I’m convinced that I was born with this train of thought.

I can count lots of moments in my life where I thought I’d break in two. And it wasn’t just over the stress of school. It wasn’t even when my parents divorced. I was so lucky that my parents’ divorce was amicable. I remember bits and pieces of the last few years my parents were together, but I mostly remember how they are now. And they are happy now. That’s all a daughter could ever wish for her parents to be. Heartbreak tops this list, and then law school would come second, and then the journalism program at UCF would come third. We’ve all experienced heartbreak. The worst is waking up in the morning after a break-up feeling absolutely useless with a gaping hole in your heart. I remember moments of heartbreak where I was very angry, then moments of loneliness, then finally, the healing period. But if it weren’t for heartbreak Dan and I would not be together.  And then there was the journalism program at UCF. I developed extra tough skin going through that program. I cannot tell you how many times I thought I was going to have a heart attack because my primary source for a news story refused to call me back. Or, my favorite, when I messed up the spelling of an official’s name in an article, and I received a big, fat “D” because of that stupid error. I must have spell-checked that particular article 3,000 times. But, I’m only human. However, while others would probably just shake it off; I beat myself up over, and over again. I wanted to do  well with every fiber of my being; so, when I faltered it felt like the end of the world to me. I have always  taken things very, very seriously.

But I’m not convinced that those moments were the actual limits of my person because I’m still standing.

I seem to get to the brink of my breaking point when someone tells me what I already know. Let me explain. For example, every law student in the country knows that the economy is not the greatest now for new lawyers. I mean, honestly, it’s still bad everywhere. And if anyone tries to tell you differently; they are lying. Well, I know that too. I knew that coming into law school. I know that if you’re not in the top 5% of your class after your first year you will not have a job served to you on a silver platter. But c’mon. I’ve never expected  that. So, I absolutely hate it when someone tells me again and again and again that the economy is sub-par, and that I should prepare for the worst. It’s even worse when you’ve worked your ass off the first-year, managed to be decently above the curve, and it’s still not good enough. And you know it’s not good enough, but it’s even worse when someone reiterates to you that it is not good enough. It makes me want to scream. Law school is on a forced curve the first year. This means that, statistically, only a certain percentage of students in your class can get the A’s and B’s…the rest have to get C’s or D’s. Sometimes the curve can be tight depending on the exam; meaning that a mere point could separate  you from a C to a B or vice versa. You are fighting the whole way through. So, while grades are extremely important in law school it is just not possible for EVERYONE to do well. Do you know what that can do to a person who has worked hard and still manages to only get C’s? Yes, it’s awful….and I sympathize with every single one of them. And this is why law school is hard.

But on almost every occasion, after hearing all of this economy/grade stuff re-hashed out at me, it never ceases to make me feel like an ant cowering under a rock while a stampede of grizzly bears run by.  And then it happens: I fall apart on the inside. Then I start thinking, “Is this for me?” “Why am I here?” “Am I good enough for this?” If you’re a law student you most certainly have asked yourself these questions, and if you haven’t yet, you will.  But, it’s undeniable: I like law school. I like the friends that I’ve made here. I like that I’m challenged every, single, waking moment of the semester.

But even in those moments where I feel small and question myself I remind myself that I have a wonderful husband, a loving family and some really great friends. As cliche as this might sound: I believe that there really is no limit to the human spirit unless  you let that particular event or moment in your life define who you are. It might feel like it sometimes, but life  goes on. You have to believe in yourself even when things just seem downright awful. I’ve been there. And if you haven’t already, you will have been there too.

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