Law School

Work With What You Got

This week the internet was down at my house and because I can’t get ready without background noise, I started playing my iTunes on my laptop (lol wut). A Laura Pausini song came on and suddenly summer 06 came flashing back. That summer, I took the June LSAT and spent the rest of time researching law schools and starting my personal statements. Our house had no AC so the family computer was in the basement so that we wouldn’t sweat to death while using the hot ass computer. It was a really out of date desktop–so out of date that the screen lagged behind the keyboard. Like, I would write a sentence and it would be a good 15-20 seconds before I would see the words on the screen. I laugh about it now, but can you imagine prepping for law school, writing what is, at the time, the most important essay of my life, with such janky equipment? We didn’t even have a printer. If I needed to print something or faster internet, I’d have to go to the library (no wifi yet). I don’t share this to make it seem like I’m old (I’m very young actually!) or act like times are easier now (there are constant challenges). But rather, I remember how frustrating it was to be without: without access to information, without access to useful resources, without mentors to help guide me, without supporters who understand the process… It is tough. And it’s still tough, even now, I’m going to wager that for those of you applying to law school it can be frustrating when you feel like you are working without the things you need.

The harsh reality, for many of us, is that we have to go out of our way to find resources. Resources that for many other people are super common and easily accessible. I know I felt incredibly frustrated that summer but I knew I had a choice–I could wallow in my self-pity and cry to myself,  knowing that very few of my classmates had to keep their fingers crossed that their computer would turn on the next day like I did. Or I could accept that, for the moment, this was my reality and I needed to make the most of it.  Obvi, I opted for the latter. I hustled as much as I could to find resources on applying to law school, made a plan on writing my drafts so that I wouldn’t burn out our computer, etc. etc.  I did it, but it wasn’t easy and I still had to overcome the negative emotions that comes with not having what you need.  And if you’re used to making the most with what you got then you already know that you have to be resourceful, but that still doesn’t take away the sting.

And that sting tends to fester and worsen when we compare ourselves and our trajectories with others who are luckier. I know that if you were to compare my application next to most of my classmates, mine would look sparse. I didn’t have life-changing trips abroad; I didn’t have capital to start a business; my letters of recommendations were from “normal” people; my extracurriculars weren’t even that great because I always needed to have a part-time job that took up a lot of my time. (Let’s take a moment to be grateful for admission committees that can see diamonds in the rough!). When I started law school, my resume wasn’t anything special and many times I compared myself to others and found myself lacking–and it hurt. There was a constant voice that told me  that I wasn’t as good, and therefore could never be as great. I completely dismissed my experiences because they didn’t match a standard that, realistically, I could have never met coming from my socioeconomic bracket. Knowing what I know now, I’m so proud of myself that despite (and because of) my circumstances, I was able to make it to the same place they did. But that has been a long journey.

Yet, even when I questioned myself, my internal cheerleader was louder than the doubter. Even on rough days, I always recognized my own potential and pushed myself to keep going. And sometimes that’s all we have to motivate us. You can’t always rely on mentors, or having the right information/tools at the right time, or any other outside factor to propel you–you have to do it yourself. You have to believe that you’re capable of achieving your goals and train yourself to look past the clouds of self-pity and doubt to make it happen.

It’s not easy. I remember staring at the ceiling, listening to Tu y Mil Mares for the hundredth time as I waited for the screen to catch up with my keystrokes. Often thinking, “This is a joke. How will I ever finish this essay?” I could have given up then, but instead, I took a deep breath and kept going.

You will hit all types of barriers during your application process–regardless of what you face: take a deep breath and keep going.