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Monday, August 22, 2005

Personal Achievement

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This post has been rattling around in my head since the day the above picture was taken - May 8, 2005 - the day I graduated from law school. I suppose it's fitting that I am finally sitting down to write it on the day I picked up my diploma.

My sister, J, snapped this pic without my knowledge as we left the Convention Center following commencement. Pictured are my daughter and I, she in a moment of sweetness and wearing my prized possession of the day, my honor cords.

While in school, I didn't talk too much here about grades. I did mention occasionally that I was worried about them, but I hardly if ever mentioned any final outcomes. I suppose because my blog isn't really anonymous and I was aware that some classmates were reading it, I felt like I shouldn't be discussing my grades. I didn't have anything to hide, but I learned early on that revealing grades to other law students rarely resulted in anything beneficial for either side.

I worked my ass off (if only that were literally true) in school and am proud of the results. I wouldn't say that I worked to my full potential, but I came close. There were times when I gave in to the fatigue and rested instead of studying (I regret some of those). There were times when I made family, including but not limited to my daughter T, my priority and spent time with them instead of studying (I regret none of those). And there were times when I simply chose fun and friends over studying (no regrets there either).

And so, because I know I worked hard, I can say here that I am proud to have graduated from law school cum laude, at the age of 31. Grade school wasn't much of a challenge for me; I breezed through without having to study - so long as I could remember to turn assignments in on time. High school was tougher, and I did reasonably well, but I certainly didn't work to my full potential and I allowed myself to become preoccupied with things other than schoolwork (boys). Nursing school was tougher, but a different type of tough. Pre-req courses required mostly memorization, which I could handle, but certain subjects were beyond my mastery for the amount of effort I was willing to expend (organic chemistry - ugh). Clinicals, where I worked with patients, were what I enjoyed, and I always did well with them.

But law school. Law school is an entirely different beast. It's like no schooling I've ever experienced. My first hint was the LSAT. All my life I'd enjoyed standardized testing. Taking the Iowa Basic Skills tests in grade school was the best part of the school year - I always got done early and could engage in my favorite activity, reading. And my scores always came back in the high percentile range. Even PSATs and SATs were fun. But the LSAT? That thing did a number on me. I didn't take a class for it, I just bought a practice book and worked on it occasionally while working full time as an RN and raising T. Then I took the exam, appropriately enough, in the nursing building on the IUPUI campus - where I'd had classes as a nursing student. The exam was difficult - and I barely had time to finish some of the sections, something I'd never experienced before.

Lucky for me, I did well enough to be accepted to the only school to which I applied, IU-Indy. And somehow in law school I finally learned to apply myself. Why on Earth couldn't I have harnessed this much effort and determination in high school or college? No idea. But in law school I applied myself. I got good grades my 1L year, surprising myself and maybe those who know me. I worked hard that year, but I still consider myself lucky - and blessed - because what I didn't know at the time was how important first year grades are to most law students. Those good grades, along with, I'd like to think, my past experience and maybe even my personality, led to several interviews and a job offer during second year's on campus interviewing process.

So by some standards, I achieved success: graduated cum laude, landed a good job with a wonderful firm, enjoyed most of my classes, learned much. But just when I've finally figured out how to 'succeed' in school, I've begun to question my idea of successful. I'm thrilled to be starting a new job soon. And house hunting, which I would otherwise not be able to do, is exciting. But I'm struggling to keep these things in perspective, to ask myself what success really is and what will allow me to feel fulfilled.

Most of us, at some point, struggle to answer to that age-old question: what is the meaning of life? Sorry to disappoint, but I don't have the answer here. The only thing I know, the only thing that feels certain, is that we should in some way during our time here help others. As a nurse, I was sure I was accomplishing this goal. I chose to work at the county hospital and to make those patients who didn't have a choice of hospitals feel as valued and cared for as any other patient at any other hospital.

Now, as I am about to embark on a career as an attorney, I'm afraid I've left that path - that I won't really be able to help people through my career in the way I think I should. You see, I convinced myself that I couldn't afford to seek work in the public interest field. Sure, at my firm I'll be helping our clients. And there is some satisfaction in that. But I want to be able to face my God at the end of my time here and know I spent my time on Earth wisely and in a way that He would want.

As I look at the picture posted above, I know my accomplishment is not whatever those red cords symbolize, but instead is the delightful girl walking next to me. I pray that if I can impart a desire in her to help others, and if I can in any way make it possible for her to spend her life doing so - including by supporting her financially if necessary - that this will fulfill my duty to help others, to make a difference here on Earth.

T is truly my greatest personal achievement and I pray that God continues to guide me in raising her, that He continues to honor us with His blessings, and that T and I find ways to share those blessings with others.

About Me

Approaching Middle Age
Dabbling in Blogdom

Tear Down The Walls

Today's Song Lyric

All you do is call me, I'll be anything you need

Contact Me

E-mail: justplayinblog -at- gmail.com


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Blawgs I Read

(Fresh Pepper)
In the Agora
Do Not Overmix
From Engineer to Lawyer
Failure to Comprehend
Favorable Dicta
A Girl Walks Into a Bar(exam)
the imbroglio
Indiana Barrister
The Indiana Law Blog
IndyLaw Net
Legal Underground
The Menagerie
Mother in Law
The Neutral Zone Trap
Obiter Dictum
Screaming Bean
SC Trial Law Blog
Taking Down Words

Blogs I Read

About a Nurse
advanced maternal age
Be The Boy
code blog: tales of a nurse
Deb, hatched
Go Fug Yourself
Going Bananas
The Great Spirit
Jelly Beans...
Martinis, Persistence...
Overheard in New York
The Perils of Being in 3D
Post Secret
preaching to the perverted
Ruth's Blog
...the slack daily
Texas T-bone
30 Something Baby Doc
Unnamed Source
Waiting for the Punchline


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