As with anyone, I’ve been asked a constant question in my younger years — “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. It’s standard fare, a question beaten to death, but an important one nonetheless. Like any child, I would come up with the mundane, the fantastical; Astronaut, race car driver, fighter pilot and what have you.
Despite all these shuffling ambitions, one career path would always stick — to be a Lawyer. It stuck so well that the answer to the most beaten question became instinctive, automatic.
There lies the rub. The ambition was too instinctive that I’ve only gotten to answering the follow-up question rather recently — “Are you sure?”. Underneath the very convincing affirmation, is an equivocating no. No, I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t even sure that I was unsure. The fact that my father was a lawyer only made it even more instinctive. It was this instinct that powered me up to this day.
What many people don’t know is this — pardon the language, but I was half-arsed with the entire endeavor. It took me many months to file simple applications, stretching what was possible with submission deadlines. I took the UP LAE waking up only two hours prior; the UA&P LSQT without any sleep; and the Ateneo Exam with an empty stomach, a necessary “evil” I had to take before starting my internship. This isn’t the level of commitment one normally attaches to the pursuit of law.
Political Science, Philosophy, Legal Management, Literature, I ended up in none of them for college. I spent those four years taking up Political Economy in a small but remarkable university in Pearl Drive, the University of Asia and the Pacific. It was a hasty decision, but one that truly helped me decide.
The study and practice of law is an acquired taste, one that requires at least a few years of self-discovery and consistent self-critique. My college years in UA&P were precisely that. In my first year, I would be recognized among my peers as an achiever, one who gets high grades without putting much effort. But I was just doing my own thing, doing just enough to pass, enjoying the company of my peers and other extra-curricular pursuits. So I shrugged such comments off. Truth be told, I’ve never really thought about the grades and still consider many of my block-mates to be more intelligent than I. Yet, over the past four years, I’ve gotten to know myself more and more.
Ending up on the editorial board for a publication, writing a book out of undirected self-confidence, I’ve learned that I do communicate my ideas clearly on paper. Participating (and winning as a “beginner”) in Model United Nations Conferences, both local and international, I’ve discovered that, like my writing, I speak just as well, and able to think on my feet. Simply put, I can articulate myself well, affirming the observations I had initially shrugged off. I can learn rather quickly, and explain in a manner that is understood by many. It all culminates in a moniker I’ve been given and reluctantly accepted — The Professor. Do not mistake this for bragging. Rather, it’s a skill set, or a set of talents that need to be honed and applied in the proper venue — law school. “You may want to go to law school, but is it really for you?” Only years of self-discovery can answer that.
All things considered, I choose to study and practice law because it is something I believe I will be genuinely good at; And, more than anything, something I will enjoy.
As I write this, I’ve officially been admitted to two schools, faced with a decision of where to finally spend the fabled four years.
The magic of Pearl Drive is in the environment. The new combination of curricula, professors, and small scale made my stay a fruitful one. The uncertainty of a completely new environment pushed me to go beyond my comfort-zone and do the things that have cumulatively led to who I am today. Choosing to study in UA&P, I know that I am welcome and will have nothing to prove. I know that the personal level of instruction will do wonders despite having an undetermined performance at the Bar. Though, in my opinion, it could breed complacency. It will be like an extension of my college years — seeing almost the same people, same morning commute, same building, and even the same food. Only the content has changed. This, is what I am afraid of.
Moving to Rockwell, I will be faced with uncertainty anew — new people, new campus, new opportunities; the same uncertainty I was faced with first stepping in the corridors of Pearl Drive. It’s a new proving ground.