I was never like this as a child. I wasn't like this as a teenager. Sure, I struggled with some issues of self-consciousness, especially with my weight. But, I always thought really highly of myself as a person and always thought of myself as smart, popular and fun. I always knew what I wanted, and never doubted that I would get it. I wanted to do well in school, so I did. I wanted to go to a certain college, and I went there. I wanted to travel, I wanted to be close with my family and close with my friends and I was. I was always dreaming of my next goal. It wasn't an intentional goal setting exercise, it was just my personality. Life was just wide open, in my eyes.
I think the world crashed in on me a little in college. I had never attended private school before, and I was not prepared for the true culture shock of a "rich kid" school. My hand-me-down Honda Accord was perfectly fine in high school, but suddenly it was the hoopty amongst the brand new bimmers, land rovers and lexus. I also caught on quickly that I wasn't the only over-achiever in my class and that not every accomplishment would come as easily as it had in high school, where, whether it did or not, I assumed my reputation as an excellent student and mature young woman preceeded me. I was schocked that there were sororities that didn't invite me back to their preference night. I felt my self confidence slowly slipping. I ended up having a great group of friends and a lot of fun and success in college, but I don't think I held my head as high.
Then, there was law school. I walked through those doors feeling as though I didn't belong. In my mind I barely even got in to this top school, and I felt the need to hide rather than shine. Law school itself is based on a method of breaking you down. They call it the socratic method, meant to make you think better on your feet, but it could not have been any worse for my self esteem and learning ability. My once outspoken, confident, joyful self could barely drag myself to class, much less participate and defend myself to an esteemed professor or self-righteous classmates. I think I hated every single minute of class in law school, except for my Criminal Procedure and Evidence classes. I knew in my heart that I had found B at that time so that I could actually make it through. I made very few friends in law school and needed a friend and shoulder when class was done, and that was B.
While I made it through law school with no problems academically, I was not at the top of my class and wasn't earning any awards or recognition. It was so foreign to me to be in the middle of the pack and I just could not identify with my so called "place" in that environment. I just hated it. I'll never forget, right around graduation, the assistant dean of the law school scheduled meetings with every student who was not at the top of the class. It was a meeting to discuss our bar study plans. I naively scheduled my meeting and realized very quickly that this meeting was meant to remind me that I'd probably have to work extra hard, as my law school performance was a great indicator that I probably would not succeed in passing the bar exam on the first try.
I cried the whole way home from that meeting. B was ready to drive down to his office and punch him in the face. We both just could not believe that they thought this negative reinforcement would help me pass the bar exam?
But it did, my mantra during my whole bar study was "F this school" I'm going to pass and show them! And I did. And I seriously felt like marching in there and telling them that their lack of faith in me was obviously misplaced. But I never did, I was too busy working, being the lawyer they weren't sure I could be. That was a definite confident booster, but still. I didn't feel all that successful.
I was lucky enough to have a boss that summer who saw promise in me. Even though I had passed the exam, I still had a hard time believing that I was smart enough to practice law. I had been so incredibly broken by law school. I questioned everything I did, but my boss always told me I was good enough, and he hired me on as an attorney as soon as I passed the bar.
You'd think that would give me some confidence, and I'm sure it did a bit. I'm proud of myself. I know I'm a good lawyer for a lot of different reasons. Sometimes I know I could work harder and give more effort, but for the most part I feel like I'm good at what I do, and I love what I do. But when I think back to that high school girl. The girl who always knew she would be a lawyer, the girl who did everything she set out to do and was always dreaming, I realize I'm not that same person. The reality of finances, life plans, age, disappointed, loss, the real world have set in. They've set in so much that I find myself worrying more and dreaming less.
I dreamt of finding B, and I found him. I dreamt of my wedding, and I did feel like it was everything I had envisioned and was so happy to see such a fun project come to fruition. I dreamt of my baby and was so happy she came to us so easily. I was so excited to start dreaming of our life with her and everything that came with my pregnancy and family. And it was so suddenly stolen from me that I feel even more out of touch with my dreams now that I have so much fear of my future.
I know that we change and evolve and grow. I know that life makes us stronger and smarter, but I'd be lying if I said I don't want that old girl back. The one who saw life as being wide open. As if the world was hers for the taking. The girl who never doubted she would become an attorney, get married, have children, decorate a dream home and have a lake house. I feel like this girl is being chipped away at. Like my spirit is just fading. I am determined to get her back, I can't let this year steal my spirit.