First day. What am I going to wear? This isn’t undergrad anymore, so definitely no more sweat pants. Are people going to be wearing suits? Should I wear business clothes? Crap, do I even own business clothes? Wait, what if everyone else is dressed normal and I show up in a pants suit and I’m the weirdo wearing a pants suit on the first day of school. Wait, wait, where am I even supposed to go? I really should have looked this up last week. What if I can’t find my classes and the Professor decides to make an example of me like in all those movies. People will think I’m an idiot. What if everyone is super mean and smart and cold and I make zero friends and have to eat lunch sitting on the toilet in the girl’s bathroom like Cady Heron. I should definitely watch Mean Girls when I get home. Cool, I just wasted 15 solid minutes of time I could have spent getting ready staring blankly at this wall and having a conversation to myself. Great start Rona, great start.
Now that first semester is over, it’s odd to look back and think about how quickly it passed by. It seemed like I went directly from “still confused about where my classes are” to “oh crap it’s exams” and “what exactly is a map and how do I make one that makes an ounce of sense?” Between deciding what extra curriculars to get involved with, and trying to balance my Netflix binge watching regimen with actually doing my readings so that I don’t get absolutely owned by a cold call in Niblett’s class (which much to my despair happened anyways), I somehow completed an entire semester of law school.
But the toughest part of 1L first semester wasn’t the volume of reading, or the cold calling, or even the assignments. The toughest part of 1L was the blow to my ego. It was accepting the fact that I wasn’t going to be “the smart kid” anymore. Every person surrounding me was the smart kid. Some have way more life experience; many have had incredible jobs and interesting backgrounds. Here I am thinking I’m an accomplished and intelligent young woman, when the person sitting to my right casually just told me they worked for the United Nations in some remote city that I’ve never even heard of, and now all I’m thinking is that I need to brush up on my geography and stop being so ignorant.
At the risk of sounding nauseatingly cheesy, I’m going to share with you the main thing I had to remind myself to make it through first semester unscathed. As difficult it is to accept that you might not be a top student anymore, there’s something wonderful about realizing that you were chosen to be here, among all these incredibly accomplished and intelligent individuals. That somehow, something in you earned you your spot here. Most importantly, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being “average” at law school, because the average among us is exceptional.
So here’s to 1L. Here’s to panicking about assignments that don’t have all of the parameters explicitly spoon fed to you. To not quite knowing what the best way to study is yet. To staying up late catching up on readings. To getting cold called and not knowing the answer. To being unreasonably stressed when you fall a little behind. To going to every pub night because you don’t want to miss out on anything hilarious that happens. To going to no pub nights because you’ve started a new TV series and it just wouldn’t be right to not finish. To thinking your prof is super good looking. To thinking your prof is super scary. To making new friends, to feeling humbled, and to feeling excited that you’ve learned enough in just one semester to look over your friend’s lease and spot what provisions are unenforceable. Now let’s hope second semester goes a little more smoothly.