3L has been an interesting, stressful, and strange year thus far. I suppose this is not the vibe that one would expect from a person on their way out of the halls of academia, which oftentimes feel like they are closing in on you. However, as an older student I feel a bit apprehensive about this future liberation. I was 28 when I began law school and had many years before that of engaging in the post-graduate uncertainties of the real world. Being part of the “millennial generation,” I came into law school after experiencing many of the challenges that we all know about, many of the challenges that have been written about in major publications. On the one hand, reengaging with the world I left behind is exciting. After all, I have the opportunity to leave behind the cold, snowy winters of Boston to return to hot, dry summers of my beloved Las Vegas. Yet and still, my future is far from determined. No matter how many mentors I speak to or how many networking events I attend, I am not sure I feel prepared yet to leave the fantasy world of academia and return to the actual tasks of chasing dreams.
For me, law school is and has been a proxy to develop new tools and sharpen old ones. As an artist, advocate, and entrepreneur from the inner city, it was imperative for me to branch out and attempt to gain some of the social, economic, and political capital that I felt I lacked.
Law school has by its very nature endowed me with some of what I sought, yet this new-found inheritance has also made me more apprehensive, more cautious to protect the small amount of privilege I feel like I have finally gained, and that is scary to me.
I suppose if law school in and of itself was the dream, then I wouldn’t be fearful at all, for I would be on the verge of completing the chase. But for me, law school was a tool, a pit stop on the road to further development and discovery of how to attain my dreams.
Now that graduation is looming and decisions are being vetted with regard to location, bar preparation, and varied post-graduate opportunities, I am wrestling with the angst and fear of a dream deferred.
When I first left Vegas and arrived in Boston with nothing more than my dog and a duo of suit cases, I had grown tired of attempting to build in a city not designed for growth, tired of trying to be a person of vision in a city desperately in need of reexamination, yet I was still determined to return upon graduation.
Three years spent in a city that honors and supports people with ideas and vision has left me a vague sense of loyalty to the city I called home prior to graduation, but a very real fear that going back will inhibit me and help me. A sense that no matter the new credential, the reality of my dream attainment will be totally dictated by old city politics and socio-economics. That the very tools I left to find will not be useful when I return home, and that J.D./Esq. will simply be new initials to follow my name on a business card, not keys to play the game at a new level.
That all of the sacrifices, the lost contact with friends, the missed time with important family members, the loss of relationships will all not be worth it.
I suppose, however, that is always the risk in pursuing dreams. The excitement is in the risk, not the reward; in the mission, not its completion; and in the vision, not its acceptance.
I suppose matriculation is the wrong “M” word to use to describe the impact of the journey I have begun.
Perhaps “maturation” is more apropos.