By Shirlene Armstrong • June 28, 2018•Writers in Residence, Law School, Pre-Law
My anxiety was relieved and I was accepted into law school. I decided on Wayne State University, sent in my acceptance paperwork and anxiously began waiting for school to begin. To be honest, I was not exactly sure what to expect from orientation or what law school was going to be like. Law school was different than anything I had encountered before. I feel like Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, ready for law school but what if I get called on in class and I do not have the answers? Looking back on it, I know I most of it was just nerves and anxiety about beginning my legal journey. I was about to encounter new challenges and as a first generation college student, let alone a first generation law student, I felt a little worried about how I would transition into this new adventure.
Despite my fears trying to get the best of me, I knew I needed to stay confident and work hard in order to be successful. Orientation is one of the toughest weeks in law school. First you are scared when you are thrown into this unknown territory with a group of people you probably haven’t met before and told you will be graded based on your peers’ performance. Then you are overworked when you have to attend class, do assignments, and begin to “think” like a law student before the semester begins. By the time orientation is over, you already need a break from law school. At least, that is how I felt. My orientation lasted the entire week before classes began and was filled with plenty of activities and classes to keep me more than busy. Then you are expected to prepare for your classes the following week during your down time at orientation. I was exhausted and the last thing I wanted to do was more work.
My first week of classes was even more stressful than orientation. I had always been someone who loved school and felt like class was easy. This changed with law school. Every day I would I wake up and study, go to class, study on my breaks, and then go home so that I could study and figure out what I just learned. I was so tired, stressed and felt like hitting the panic button. I remember on the first Thursday of my 1L year I was in my apartment staring at my Torts casebook thinking to myself “what on Earth did I get myself into?” Honestly, I felt a little defeated. I had worked so hard to get to where I was but felt like I was not going to be successful. Tears were definitely shed that week. Instead of accepting defeat and giving up, I picked myself back up and had patience with myself.
Law school is no joke. In fact, law school is one of the hardest things I have ever done. First generation or otherwise, law school is much different than what I had imagined. I knew it was going to be hard work, lots of studying, and stress. However, I had to put in extra hours in order to understand certain concepts, figure out how to be a law student and navigate this crazy journey by myself. While law school is difficult, it is also very rewarding. There were (and still are) days that I have to give myself a pep talk and push myself to be successful. In the end, it is all worth it because I am getting closer to my dreams and accomplishing great things. I am proud of myself, both in my failures and successes. These thoughts helped me get through the start of law school and keep me going through the tough times.
So that’s how I survived orientation and started law school. Yes, I made it through a lot of stress, anxiety, and nerves, however I still had to survive the rest of my 1L year. So I pushed forward and worked hard. Thus, I buckled down and began navigating through classes, exams, and surviving my 1L year.