I imagine, or at least I find solace in hoping that, my fellow 1L students have the same anxiety driven dreams and stress about being cold called in class. Let’s forego the idea that one may not be fully prepared, but rather what if you are prepared and your brain betrays you? The probable reality of being called upon and freezing up, or worse I’m wrong, drives my fear. Additionally, when all sixty-something students turn to look at me or in my direction, I start to wonder if maybe I have food crumbs on my face, a booger hanging out of my nose, or everyone can see the excessive amount of sweat dripping down my face. You may be smirking or derisively snorting at such ridiculous worries when the professor staring at me should be and is the most important priority; well, she or he can see all those things too, and none of them are too far fetched to not happen to me on that day of all days.
I can do this, right? This isn’t an unfamiliar experience given that I have not only my undergraduate degree but also my graduate degree. I probably have double the experience some students have in classroom and professor time, but law school is different.
The material is dense. The professors are tough. Everyone is pretty much on level playing field (roundabout way of saying, everyone is ridiculously smart). You can’t rely on natural talent or intuition to coast through. Let’s not forget, law school is friggin’ expensive. I don’t want to waste the professor’s time, but I definitely don’t want to waste my time or money. With all this in mind, I don’t want to let this fear paralyze me. After nearly three months into school, my fears are now motivation to not slack off, to not forget to brief my cases, and most of all, to not be afraid to be wrong.
I have been cold called quite a few times now. Once I had no idea she would call on me, and I gave my answer to her satisfaction and survived. I didn’t burst into flames, freeze up, or even break a sweat. Another time and for full disclosure, I had an idea that I was on call for the day, I reviewed like the dickens to ensure I wouldn’t stumble through it. After having done it, I don’t feel as afraid. I actually feel much braver and more confident.
This year is what I make of it. The mystique, anxiety, and distress that is the 1L year find much of its powers in reality, but it will retain power only if I allow it to cripple me. Don’t be your own worst enemy.