Alice Shih

Northern Lights: One 3L’s Adventures in Overcoming Law School Doubts

Editors Note: This post was submitted by Alice Shih, a Ms. JD Fellow and 3L at Yale.  The Ms. JD Fellowship is the result of partnership between Ms. JD and the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession.  Fellows, who are rising 3Ls, are paired with an ABA Commissioner or Margaret Brent Award Winner as part of a year long mentorship.  Applications for next year's fellowship will be available in January.

  As part of their fellowship, each Ms. JD fellow writes a post for the blog about an issue of importance to them.  Alice has been and active tutor and is passionate about sharing her experiences to help others.  To learn more about Alice and the other 2011 fellows, click here.

A very wise woman* told me, “The World sees outside packaging.” All it sees when it looks at me is that I am a 3L at Yale Law School who has two federal clerkships lined up post-graduation. The World thinks that I have everything together and figured out. But what they don’t see is the self-doubt, fear, and second-guessing that is underlying every turn. Take this blog for example. I have been meaning to write this blog for nearly two months. It wasn’t procrastination that delayed the blog; rather it was my own self doubt. What could I possibly know that would be of value to write? Who would benefit from my words? Why am I qualified to do this?

As I began to analyze this doubt, I realized the same doubt reappeared in many other areas of my life. This was the doubt that led me to write out detailed conversation topics on my hand before going to a professor’s office hours. This is the doubt that caused my heart to pound in my ears so loudly that I couldn’t hear the professor’s question during a cold call. This was the doubt that made me avoid all moot court competitions like the plague.

But this blog isn’t about doubt. This blog is about how I overcame that doubt. I am literally dashing off these sentences minutes before I run out the door to catch my flight to Iceland. Why am I going? Because I want to see the Northern Lights. That’s what this blog is about. It’s about expanding your horizons and always looking for the next challenge. Oftentimes, the growing experience isn’t comfortable or easy, but the rewards are incredible. And doubt will accompany you on those adventures, but doubt doesn’t chart the course. You do.

And as for the doubts I mentioned earlier? By overcoming those doubts, I had some of the richest experiences in my life. I made incredible friendships with professors, including going to Eritrea with one professor to work on an international arbitration brief and coauthoring an academic article with another. Talking in class is still a nervous experience for me, but I think it is for many. To better understand why, I am on the board of a year-long study that looks at gender disparity in and outside of the classroom. And moot court? I finally entered my first moot court competition last month and won first place. I look forward to telling you more about how I overcame these and other doubts in law school. Because for me, overcoming these challenges has led to an incredibly fulfilling three years of law school. But right now, my hiking backpack stuffed to the brim with thermal shirts and my -32 degree Celsius hiking boots are calling me. I will be back after I see the Northern Lights.

*Special thanks to my Ms. JD Fellowship mentor, Michele Coleman Mayes. She breathed confidence and enthusiasm into this blog.

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