Ignore my previous post. I wrote that in a fit of rage and anger at how overwhelming the bar exam felt at the time. Oh, who am I kidding? It was completely overwhelming especially for someone who has always struggled with standardized tests. I still remember taking the LSAT like it was yesterday: heart racing, hands shaking, sweaty palms. The bar exam was a different kind of difficult though. I knew it would be demanding, but what I wasn’t prepared for was the isolation that accompanied it. I felt so utterly alone. I watched the sun rise and fall from what I began to describe as my “prison window.” I maintained some semblance of a social life up until about the middle of June, and then I swiftly closed all the doors. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t healthy what I did–basically cutting off the world–but I felt like I needed to give the bar exam my undivided attention without distractions. That meant staying off Facebook and Instagram, too. It worked though, and what was really surprising is that I broke the habit of signing onto Facebook everyday. That urge to sign in went away about 10 or so days after I made the conscious decision to stay off time-sucking social media. I enjoyed all the texts, phone calls and email messages I received from my friends, and I really appreciated the little time I really spent hanging out with my husband. I remember telling him that I missed him numerous times even though he was there by my side all the time.
The actual studying for the bar was pretty miserable. The best way I can describe the process is mind-numbing. I quickly discovered what subjects I was good at (criminal procedure, agency, corporations and partnerships were by and large my best subjects), and the subjects I was terrible at (evidence and property), and I tried to adjust my studying to account for my weaker subjects. I took a bar review course like pretty much everyone else I knew, and I fell behind like pretty much everyone else I knew. But I liked being on some type of schedule with someone telling me what to study until I got to the point where I could direct myself. My quality of studying was much better because of it. I did around 1400 practice multistate bar exam questions, and dozens and dozens of practice essays. The one thing I regret is that I played around with my study routine and wasted precious time. For me, flash cards are an absolute no-go. I don’t learn from reading. I learn by actively taking the information and doing something with it on a daily basis, which is where outlines were my saving grace. I took my bar course’s super large outlines and whittled them down until they were no more than 5-10 pages. I would have condensed them further if I had time, but the process of condensing is where I learned–it wasn’t the end product. I did make flash cards for a couple subjects, and didn’t look at them once after they were made. Such a waste of time.
On an emotional level, I held it together for the most part during bar prep, but the minutia and repetition is what eventually made me lose my mind. The last week before the exam was awful. I cried a lot, and hit a wall. I couldn’t bring myself to study much at all during the last week, and I think overall I’m glad I stepped back. I needed to refresh my mind in time for the endurance I needed to find to sit through 12 hours of exam-taking.
While the systematic process of studying for the bar was lonely about 95% of the time, overwhelming and downright discouraging, it gave me a ton of time to self-reflect on my life, who I am, and where I am. During the last week I realized how lost I had become, and how separated from my faith in God I had become. It sort of felt like waking up from some sort of spiritual slumber. I grew up in a Christian home, and my faith has always been a large part of who I am, but that faith fell by the wayside sometime around my 11th birthday after my parents divorced, and I moved to a new state. I never stopped believing, but I stopped strengthening my relationship with Christ. It wasn’t until the final week of bar prep that I realized how far I’ve fallen. My excuse for not talking about my faith is that it usually doesn’t come up or when it does it can lead into some confused and hostile conversations that I usually don’t like to venture into. I’ve always respected the people around me for who they are. It is certainly not my place to judge, and it is not my job to save anyone either. What I can do is lead by example, through my behavior, and through the peace that I’m working on through my faith. Bar prep seems like a weird place to realize that I miss my relationship with God, but it makes so much sense at the same time. Bar prep stripped me completely of the outside world. I didn’t go shopping, I didn’t hang out with anyone (aside from my husband), I did nothing but study the law. The only thing I managed to do was go running outside a handful of times over the course of the two months that I studied. It was therapeutic each time–just me, my music and the pavement. This separation from the world is what my heart and mind needed to wake up. I’m so incredibly thankful for it. I’m so thankful for my friends who never left my side when I ducked out of life for the last 2 months. I’m thankful for my husband who continues to love me beyond mere words, beyond anything I could have ever imagined from love. He is the logical extension of my heart, and I love him more with each and every day that passes. I’m thankful for my mom’s sweet voice when I needed it the most. I’m thankful that God allows the sun to shine on a world corrupt with hate, greed, pride and lust; and I’m thankful that I woke up this morning.
I’m back ya’ll! Welcome to the next chapter of my life :)