Overcoming Insecurities in Law School

I wish I could call Elle Woods right now and ask her how she managed to stay so fabulous in the midst of the crazy that is Law School.... and then I remember she is a fictional character and real people aren't like that and it makes me sad. Law School is rough. I have never been so academically challenged in my life nor surrounded by so many people who are so much smarter than me. It is quite the adjustment. It is easy to get wrapped up in your own confusion and feel stupid when the person a few rows in front of you seems to have no issues and handles their cold call like a 3L. It is really easy to let insecurities get the best of you in the first semester of Law School.

I came into Law School about as confident as a person could be. I had a full-tuition scholarship, I prepared all summer and I was ready to kick Law Schools butt. This feeling continued for the first few weeks- readings got progressively easier as my reading skills improved, I was totally understanding lectures and I thought I was crushing it. It wasn't until around October 1st that things started to go downhill.

First, I got a cold which just made me lazy and unmotivated for about a week. I kept up with readings but I was not super focused, I was zoning out in class and all I wanted to do when I got home was sleep and watch Netflix. Once I was over my cold, I just couldn't seem to get motivated; I fell victim to the dreaded mid-semester slump. The weather was yucky and I just didn't want to do school anymore. Finally, this week I started to really get myself back on track and back on top of outlining and making flashcards and getting ready for my upcoming property midterm. But, all of a sudden, my confidence was zapped. It snuck up on me... I thought I had everything under control and then Contracts stopped making sense and Property got really confusing and we started Proximate cause in Torts and my brain is completely overwhelmed and I no longer feel like I "got this".

On top of all this, I am feeling inadequate because it seems like other students still have it all together and understand the things that boggle my mind. One guy was cold called today in Civ Pro and literally crushed it like a 3L. I just sat there knowing full well I would not have done that well and that made me want to crawl in a little hole and just cry. I have started to look around the classroom and wonder if I can keep up with these people and if I am smart enough to get the grades I need. I have had fleeting moments the past weeks of insecurity but it always passed quickly. This time it just keeps growing.

It is the worst feeling to look around the room and feel completely insecure... it's also not something I am accustomed to as I am generally a very confident and competent person in everything I do. Rarely do I get insecure and it is just no fun. It is hard to go home and be motivated to work hard and improve when you are already feeling like you aren't smart enough. I was always used to being one of the smartest people in High School, College, jobs, etc. Now everyone is the same way and it is a bit of a shock. It is hard to not get bogged down in the insecurities and feeling incompetent. As this is a new feeling, I don't know how to handle it other than just keep tugging along.

I have been struggling in silence for a time now and finally let it all spill out to my husband. Poor guy! However, he reminded me that I have always wanted to be a lawyer, I am smart enough (otherwise I would not have gotten a full-tuition scholarship) and that I just need to keep working hard no matter what; whining and complaining won't help (he is so right but sometimes whining is necessary... as is wine). It was the reality check I needed. I am still struggling and still feeling insecure. I question why I ever wanted to be a Lawyer at least once a week. I still feel stupid sometimes but I am choosing to use this insecurity as a wake-up call to get my butt into gear and WORK. Intelligence is one thing but it will not get you the grades unless you put the work in. I am making a point from here on out to not procrastinate, to go to more office hours when I am confused and to double my study/work time when I am at home. It is not going to be fun but it is what I NEED to do to be successful.

Law School is built to test you. It is built to weed out those who are not cut out to be Lawyers. It is designed to make you feel stupid. (It could be worse though; if you don't believe me, watch The Paper Chase) All the feelings of insecurity, incompetence and second guessing your career choice are normal. The other day in the student lounge a group of us were talking about Contracts and how confused we are. One by one each of these super intelligent people that I had felt inferior to at some point made it apparent that they too were struggling and they too question the choice to attend Law School at least once a week. We are all in the same boat. We are all struggling. However, one of the best things about Law School is the camaraderie. So far, no one is out to get each other like in the horror stories every aspiring law student hears about stolen books. Everyone wants to be friends and support each other. I have made so many new friends and I look forward to going to class if for nothing else than to hang out with some pretty cool people. That is a bright spot I have found in this little grey time.

We will all question ourselves at some point in time. Law School is hard and it is built to test you. That is uncontrollable. What you can control is your response, your work ethic and your ability to find bright spots in the rough times. We can do this! It is going to take a lot of coffee and more flashcards than I can count but I am determined to make my dreams a reality and crush Law School like I have always intended.

Keep your chin up! You wouldn't want your crown to fall. 

1 comment