Hello from Mercer Law! Today is my ~official~ first day of orientation and I am hyped to get myself orientated! I am also scared out of my mind. Seriously. I never thought I’d go to law school, let alone get a full ride. I’m a Woodruff Scholar, and that sort of freaks me out. Part of me is like “how in the heck did I get here?!” and the other part of me is saying “can I even live up to this title?” and then there’s a tiny voice inside that’s chanting “you earned this, so you can do it.” Truthfully, I will always compare myself to my peers and wonder how I ended up in the same room as some of the most brilliant, amazing people I’m sitting next to. I think that’s my twenty-year-old default setting. But preparing for law school, I gave myself a pep talk in perspective.
There’s not much you can do when prepping for law school. Sure you can get advice from everyone you know that’s even gone, but the best thing to do is to understand that to get into law school you had to be smart. Now you’re in a room full of equally qualified people, all as smart or smarter than you. You’re all going to feel not smart enough at some point your first year. Just take that fact in and let it sit with you. Knowing that all those amazing people you think are so much better than you at 1L are just as lost as you are will be comforting. You are not alone.
That’s probably the most depressing pep talk of all pep talks, but I like to know I’m not alone. Figuring that out is so much better than someone half heartedly saying “you got this!” when I have absolutely no idea what in the world I’m doing, let alone how to get to my 8am classroom. I will definitely not “have this” around 75% of the time, and then things will click at the end of the year and I’ll have an “aha!” moment. This much I’ve gathered from 2L’s and recent grads.
Another big thing is to get used to reading. Law school is almost all reading and writing. I’ve read a variety of different things, but mostly things I enjoy. There’s a study that I read that said you need to prep your eyeballs for the amount of reading you’re about to endure, so reading novels back to back through the summer before your 1L year will prep those muscles for their marathon case brief extravaganza. You can check out what I’ve been reading recently in this post, but I’ll have another one up about my summer reads ASAP!
Calm down. Just chill out. I’m so type A that me not doing anything stresses me out until I spend so much time doing nothing that I get used to it. I’m weird like that, I know, but if that’s how you can totally destress then do it. If you spend time with friends, do face masks, play with puppies, volunteer, whatever it is that you do to make yourself feel good and comfortable with life, do it! This might be your last chance until Thanksgiving break.
I set a few goals for myself. Most of them were about self care (like cooking at home at least once a week), but a few were about my studies. When I set goals, I have different tiers. The lowest tier is stuff I know I’m going to accomplish, and I set those goals because checking the “I did it!” box makes me feel good. The next level up is stuff that I want to strive for but can be flexible with, such as getting an internship for next summer that fits with that I want to do long term or being in the top 50% of my class. The top tier is what I really have to push myself for. Those are things like being at the top of my class, exercising regularly, and finishing the novel I’ve been working on forever.
I find that having five goals, with at least one in the top tier, helps me set my own tone for the semester or year (whether it’s for law school, undergrad, a job, what have you). There are things that your professors or your boss is going to expect from you, but there are also things you need to expect from yourself. Holding yourself to a high standard not only helps you reach higher goals, but also teaches you about your self worth. I find that when I get to know my self worth (i.e. how much do I value myself? How much do I respect myself?) I do better overall.
My last little tidbit is to find joy and bring it with you. I did this by saving up notes from friends, usually complements or congratulations, to hang above my desk.
Keep in mind that this is only my very first day ever of law school (and classes technically haven’t even started yet) so I’m not too sure if any of this will actually work, but it’s what I did this summer in preparation. Let me know if you guys want a “halfway” post reflecting back on this advice to see if it actually worked.