By Shirlene Armstrong • October 27, 2018•Writers in Residence, Issues, Balancing Private and Professional Life
I want to address a very important topic that doesn’t always seem to correlate with law school: life. Despite popular belief, life continues on even when you enter law school. Your personal life does not cease to exist outside of the law school. People grow, things change, and life-altering events still happen. However, as a law student, you are stuck inside the four walls of your school just trying to survive each week. It is very easy to put yourself in a ‘law school bubble’ in which you focus all your time and energy studying (believe me, it is very very easy). Although your friends and family understand (hopefully) that law school is very important and takes a lot of time and energy, they still expect to hear from you and have a relationship with you. Their lives are not on hold just because you are in school. Good things like weddings, births and celebrations still happen. Unfortunately, sickness, hardships, and death still occur as well. So what do you do when life gets in the way?
One thing that has been very difficult for me is balance. I have had a hard time balancing work and school with the life I also have to live. I don’t mean that I am unable to get everything done. Actually, in my opinion, one of my best qualities is juggling a million things at once. Even though stress rules my life, I am able to successfully get everything done. Life is about prioritizing, using your time wisely, and working efficiently. (Well, the life of a law student/lawyer). However, I sometimes sacrifice the social side of my life. There are some days that I am at the law school for over 12 hours and doing things/classes/meetings the entire time. Sometimes I get home and want to just sit in silence and not have to do or think about anything. Sometimes I am so emotionally drained from the day that I want to just ignore my responsibilities and relationships. However, some days I am just so busy that I can hardly talk to the people I care about.
Family has always been a big part of my life. As a first generation college student, my parents have encouraged me to succeed and try my hardest to achieve my goals. I am so thankful to have them as my cheerleaders to help me get through this exhausting journey. I am also thankful to have a very supportive fiancé. He has encouraged me to do my best, cheered me up when I was down, and is patient with me when I am stressed out. This support system is crucial to my success in law school. Without their understanding and compassion, I would have been overwhelmed and completely stressed out.
What happens when stress gets in the way? We have gotten well past the halfway mark of the semester and I have personally been feeling a bit burnt out. For my last year of law school, I have taken on more than I ever have before in my life. Personally I have always taken on way too much but this year has been pretty intense. So stress has been a friend of mine for a long time. All of my classes are coming to a head in assignments/activities, my co-curriculars and jobs are also increasingly becoming busier, and my third year is almost halfway over. It is safe to say that I am stressed and trying my best to get everything done without completely burning myself out. Fortunately, I have a support system and I try to balance life and work (and school).
Life gets in the way sometimes. And sometimes you have to let it. You have to recognize when it is time to walk away from the textbooks and take a moment with your friends and family. Law school does not stop the clock on life. Three years (or more) is a long time to completely abandon all of your relationships to solely focus on school. The key is to find balance and take care of both aspects of your life. So that is how I let life get in the way of law school and how I learned that is okay.