Friday, May 11, 2007

On graduation

As graduation approaches, I am thinking about the last two times I graduated. I went to a lot of different schools growing up and somehow I missed having all those quasi-graduations that some people have - graduation from kindergarten, from junior high, etc. So I've only graduated from high school and from college.

Graduating from high school was great because I couldn't wait to move on to college. It seemed like a monumental occasion; I was leaving home! Not that my home life was miserable or sad or anything less than idyllic but as an 18-year-old I was ready to see what else was out there. And I spent only my senior year at this particular high school so there weren't many significant memories, either good or bad, that I was leaving behind. On the other hand, it never occurred to me that I wouldn't graduate from high school; I literally never contemplated the possibility. So for that reason, it didn't seem like so much of an accomplishment as it felt like a turning point and a milestone.

Graduating from college was bittersweet. I loved my four years of college. To this day (12 years after graduating) my closest friends are people with whom I went to college, not people from high school. So scattering and leaving friends was tough. And it was difficult because although I thought leaving high school meant entering the real world, I quickly found out that going to a small liberal arts college in the midwest was like living in a oasis; it was not the real world. Now, suddenly, I was really entering the real world. I had no idea what I was going to do (see above: I went to a liberal arts college and got a degree that they told me qualified me to do anything but in reality qualified me to do nothing.) Actually, I had tons of ideas but no real clue how it would turn out. I had a job for the summer but nothing else was out there after the summer. I knew I wouldn't stay in the city where I was working for the summer but had no idea where I'd go. I knew I was young and had my whole life ahead of me. I was ready to graduate, or so I thought, and just like when I left high school, see what else was out there in the world.

Now that I'm graduating from law school, I also have an uncertain future. I have a job lined up as an attorney. I'll be moving but only about 30 miles from here, so we'll be in the same general community but 30 miles away from here may as well be a world away. And I'll be working long hours - longer than I worked in my previous working life - but probably not as long as I worked during the first three semesters of law school when I worked like a dog. And I have no idea if I'll like being a lawyer. There have been many times over the past three years when I've told myself I don't want to be a lawyer; at other times I've said that I do. Now I definitely want to be a lawyer but I can't and won't promise I'll be one in 10, 15, or 20 years.

Mostly graduating from law school feels like it's a significant accomplishment more than a turning point (although as I wrote the other day, there are things I'll miss about being a student). I never doubted for a second that I would graduate from high school and although college was stressful at times, college graduation was never in doubt. But I had doubts even before I entered law school that I would graduate and the first year didn't give me confidence that I'd survive the entire three years and manage to actually graduate. But now it's here (actually it's on Sunday). I have a cap and gown and a medal and an invitation to the reception and tickets for the graduation and, well, I don't know what could stop me from graduating.

Of course the fact that graduation is just step one, and step two involves 12 weeks of studying which apparently will be just as bad or almost as bad as being a 1L tempers the excitement of graduation a little, or at least makes it short-lived excitement.


At 12:27 AM, Blogger JB said...

Your summer won't be very exciting, but if you put in at *least* as much time studying as you did in law school, I bet you'll be fine. Lots and lots of practice questions is the key. And maybe having a study buddy for the essay stuff. You'll have no idea whether you passed or failed after the test (which is the question that all your non-law friends and family will ask you), but if you put in the time, I would bet money you'll pass. Good luck and congrats!


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