Law School

Summer Series: Conquering Stress While Studying for the Bar

Our Summer Series continues! This series highlights different Latina students and law grads as they embark in their summer jobs and/or bar prep all across the country. We hope to provide a variety of work experiences, options for a healthy work-life balance, and general motivation through different guest contributors to help you to take charge of your summer and professional goals!  Today we hear from Khiabett, a recent law school grad who returned home to Texas to study for the Bar:

One. Accepting your needs and limitations: During undergrad I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and I felt ashamed because I thought taking medication somehow made me “weak.” Once I started feeling better though, I felt thankful that I had such resources at my disposal. While I still struggle with anxiety I try and make sure I am prepared when faced with a particularly stressful situation. Before moving back home, I made sure that I had a prescription to last me through the summer. Now at the halfway point, I understand what others meant when they said the bar is a marathon, not a sprint. A runner wouldn’t go into a marathon unless his body was in peak physical shape, so I wasn’t going to go into this exam without making sure my mental health wasn’t taken care of. There is absolutely no shame in knowing what your emotional and mental needs are and getting them taken care of in order to hit the ground running.

Two. Ask for help: As the eldest of three sisters, I somehow always feel that I shouldn’t be burdening my parents, but instead I should be making life easier for them. As a Latina, the urge to carry to weight of the world (read: your family) on your shoulders is sometimes even stronger. While my parents had told me they were willing to help out, I felt like I couldn’t really take them up on their offer. A few days into bar prep, I let it slip that I needed them.  My mom asked me again, que necesitas? And I told her. Our living room was converted into a bedroom/office for me, I had meals prepared, and clothes washed. It can be hard to let go of the “I can do it myself” attitude and rely on others, but our loved ones are always there for us. So I’m going to take full advantage of home cooked meals before I start working and eating the same dinner four nights in a row.

Three. Learn how to say NO: A few days into bar prep I found myself in the middle of a HUGE family emergency. I was taking the lead on a lot of issues, and while I tried to not let it take up too much of my time, the family situation definitely ate up a big chunk of my day for almost a week. Since I come from a tight-knit group I was happy to be there for my family and help out in any way possible. But once things settled down I had to say loud and clear, NO MORE. I had done all that I could have, I had given up precious hours, and while I love my family, I had to say NO. I felt terrible of course, but I knew that in the end I had to put myself first. I had to be selfish and that was okay!

Four. Treat yo self: As soon as I moved back home I called the closest spa and scheduled myself a massage a few weeks in. Future me was going to love past me! This weekend I got a call reminding me about my appointment and it was AMAZING. Treat yo self is definitely a bar prep motto and do not feel guilty about being human and taking time for yourself. I felt that studying for the bar was supposed to be this zero-fun miserable ten weeks, and while that’s still fairly accurate, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it makes me a terrible person to take a break and recharge. I’ve felt that having these short moments where I get to laugh and let loose makes it easier to continue studying.

Five. Do your best and the rest…: I’ve grown up with my faith playing a pretty strong role in my life, and while that’s not for everyone, I think it bears saying that there is only so much we can do. For me, it is reassuring to know that I will study my butt off, I will try my best, but when I leave the exam room on July 27, I know that it is out of my hands at that point and my future is in God’s hands. For others, rest assured that you are doing your very best, and as long as you give it all that you can, you will be fine. It’s scary to think about not passing the bar, but it’s one exam and like me, I’m sure you’ve gone through a hell of a lot these last couple of years to let one exam knock you down.

Si se puede! Happy studying and good luck to you!

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