Happy Good Friday to all our Christian followers
Happy Passover to our Jewish readers
Ever since I was little, I’ve had a goal in mind. I knew I wanted to do to college then grad school and have this amazing job doing something I love. Once I hit high school, I made sure to stay out of trouble, get good grades, and find ways to pad my college admissions essays in furtherance of that goal. In college, I took relevant classes, made sure I was close with professors for recommendations, and worked hard in my classes. Then, I hit law school, somehow survived, and passed the bar. Mission accomplished.
I’m sitting at a place in my life where I’ve accomplished my biggest life goal. I am a licensed attorney with a full time (albeit non-practing) job. I get to take pro bono cases and help those who need it. I have a steady job with a good income that can support my family. So really, what is supposed to happen now?
Now, I’m tasked with finding this new goal. Some goal I can pour my heart and soul into in hopes that one day I will be successful. While the obvious choice may be starting a family or saving money, I find those goals are too reliant on other people. It’s hardly fair to put the burden of my success and happiness on a future child; or require my husband to put aside his wants and desires in search of my goals. Instead, I need to find a goal that only I can achieve, without relying on others for my happiness.
See, some wanderers are lost.
I guess you could say I’m a fully fledged adult now. I have my own insurance, own a home, and last week I used an HSA to pay for glasses. But, just because I’m an adult doesn’t mean I have all the answers (contrary to what teenage me thought). The older I get, the more I find myself realizing there are so many things I don’t know and being an adult actually requires at least a basic understanding of various industries.It’s a near daily occurrence that I call a parent asking for some sort of life lesson. Here are the last few things I’ve had to learn on the road to being an adult:
-How insurance, and co-insurance, work: I always knew the basic premise of insurance; you pay a set amount each month and when you have a procedure or visit the company covers all or part of it. I even knew the economics behind it and what things were likely to be covered versus not covered. What I never realized was that I had no idea how to figure out a deductible, or look up what was covered, or how to use co-insurance. It took an Insurance 101 lesson from the master (my mom) to figure out exactly what I needed to know.
-Investments: Growing up, my family didn’t have a ton of money. We weren’t poor but there certainly wasn’t enough for investments. So, I never had an opportunity to learn. When I started my 401k, I knew it would be invested in some way but there were so many words I didn’t know! Vanguard, BlackRock, IRA; who knows what those mean! Luckily, the auto-investment options are still decent options so I have some time to really dig into investments and learn some new things.
-Buying a car/Titling a car: About a week after starting work, my trusty Malibu died. It was a good car; it got me through college, multiple 4-6 hour trips home, and plenty of travel from Muncie to Dayton. But, it was time for a new one. So, off we went to loan applications and negotiating and eventually signing paperwork. We already have a house but the real estate agent did most of the work on that one. Within the span of 24 hours we got a lesson on when to cut your losses, negotiation, and eventual purchase. Of course, when you buy a car, you also have to title and register it. So that’s a whole other animal to tackle when we get paperwork in a week or so.
Teenage me thought that I would never need to rely on my parents once I went to college. I’d have money, I’m smart, I could figure it out. But, yet another life lesson learned, parents know all (or at least know how to find it all). So I’m curious, what life lessons did you struggle with?
The decision to stop practing, if that even what you call what I was doing, was not an easy one. It took a long time hemming and hawing over the right decision for me and it came down to two factors:
- Was I wasting all the work I had put in to not practice?
- What would everyone think?
I had spent the last three years in law school, toiling away for essentially a piece of paper and a big test. I had spent months preparing for the bar, waiting for results, and job searching. There were countless hours worrying over school and money, trying to keep my relationship together, and just trying to be human. If I decided not to practice, would I regret it? Would all that be wasted? And most importantly, would I be making a difference in the world?
Ultimately, I decided that practicing was exhausting. I went into law school wanting to make a difference and instead felt like the bulk of my time was spent plugging and chugging on motions or answer phone calls from strung out clients. I didn’t feel like I was making an impact in anyone’s life and I certainly wasn’t changing the world. The three years I spent in law school taught me a lot, and not just the actual law. It taught me to think critically, be skeptical, and always look for the hidden facts. It taught me I can be resilient, work well under pressure, and multitask like a champ. But, it was up to me to use those skills to do something important.
By not practicing, I am able to do just that. I still work with lawyers, I still have to keep up on legal news, and I still get to spend my free time researching things I’m passionate about. I get to talk to lawyers all over the world about things that made my law school and practice experience easier and can help them help their clients. But, because I’m not mentally and emotionally exhausted by practicing, I can take the skills I have to be a CASA/GAL, to help homeless individuals with their leases, and to take pro bono cases when I have the time. I’m able to be around for my future kids childhoods and go to PTA meetings. I can be actively involved in my community and create change there.
In the end, I’m happy with my decision. I think I got the best of both worlds, a stable job I love and the ability to effect change in my community. And as for what other people think, it just doesn’t matter.
I decided after accepting my full time job to take a step back from writing. Because I’m not actually practicing anymore, it seemed misguided for me to write a legal blog when in fact, my legal practice skills are slim to none. I took some time to thing about why I was writing, what I could write about, and if anyone would actually read it (which I’m still not convinced anyone actually does). I realized that I wasn’t writing for other people, but rather writing for myself; a place to document my thoughts on current events, managing my life, and the things that are most important to me. I hope that going forward I can continue some of my weekly posts, like Friday’s Legal News, as well as provide a more comprehensive look at working the legal industry and balancing all the chaos that comes in life. If you have any suggestions for posts or things you want to know about me, let me know! i’d love to hear what you like, what you don’t like, and how I can make Gavel Unraveled even better!