Sunday, July 4, 2010

Technical Juris Doctorate

It's 2am. I'm exhausted, but I can't seem to sleep. My thoughts keep going round and round.

Yesterday, I took my last law exam ever and I technically earned my J.D. Even though I won't actually get the J.D. until I finish my dual degree program in December, the J.D. is completed. It is earned. I am  technically a Juris Doctor. 

Law school is hard all by itself. Really hard. And finishing law school after getting diagnosed with RA halfway through, while simultaneously trying to learn how to live with RA, was absolutely the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. And I didn't just do it - I did it well. I will graduate ranked in the top third of the class, with a publication that was awarded "Best 2L Note," and four merit scholarships under my belt.

But the thought that keeps going around and around in my head is this: was it worth what it cost?

Yesterday I took my last exam and finished law school. I went home. I spent the afternoon alone, doing laundry.  A couple of people "liked" my Facebook status about finishing law school. APL said he was really proud of me and asked if I wanted to go out to dinner. But there was no one to go out to dinner with. So he brought home some sushi and that was the extent of our celebration for me completing the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. I may have a J.D., but I expended so much energy on it after I got sick that I guess I no longer have any friends in Boulder to celebrate it with.

I want to make it clear that I'm not fishing for retroactive congratulations or sympathy. And I'm perfectly aware that I'm overreacting and just feeling sorry for myself. And tomorrow I'm totally going to stop feeling sorry for myself and get back to my life and just do the best I can. But, before I do, I'm just trying to understand the really weird feelings I've had since yesterday.

I really expected to feel relieved when I finished my last exam. I expected to feel excited and proud that I had accomplished something so difficult despite the setbacks with my health. I expected to feel jubilant

But I didn't. I just felt sort of...empty. 

I've been slogging uphill towards this goal for so long that I never really thought about what it would be like when I got to the top. But deep down I guess I thought that my life would instantly be better when I finished law school, as if I could blame law school for all the things that I don't like about my life right now. Like it was totally law school's fault that I have no one to hang out with in Boulder and I'm a little overweight and my health is still a mess. Which is actually still at least partly true. But I guess I expected to feel the benefits of being done as soon as I was actually done.

Instead, it looks like it's going to take some more work to put my life back on track. And thinking about that sort of thing will keep you up at night. 


Gisela said...

Feeling empty once the stress of working toward a major goal is gone, is normal. Have felt like this several times. Good to hear that you feel better today. Happy 4th.

Helen said...

I know we're in totally different places right now, but I wanted to let you know I understand. I've felt that way each time I've hit some major "milestone" that the rest of the world tells you is supposed to involve balloons and parties and untempered happiness. It doesn't work that way for everybody.

I expected something similar when I finished my MA. I'd gotten straight A's all the way through, all while dealing with a cardiac diagnosis and 3 months of almost daily hospital visits - by myself. When I was done, I just felt tired and a little sad.

When I look back now, though, with some distance, I AM proud of myself, and I think you will be, too. You've done something wonderful, and you've done it with an incredible weight on your shoulders. Congratulations - I mean it.

Unknown said...

This post got me to buy my plane tickets. Sorry for being teh lame and non-commital previously. I'm working on being more clear with my actions and words, specifically: YOU ARE MY FRIEND AND I WANT TO BE THERE FOR YOU. Especially when there involves tapas and drinks. Jus sayin'