Learning To Value Self-Worth

Photo by Pietro De Grandi on Unsplash

I don’t often talk about my time in law school. For many people who go through it, it’s just not that big of a deal after the fact. It’s a part of their life they spent with their head in a book (and probably their liver in a constant state of panic) but they did it and they finished and it was fine.

I wasn’t that way.

I don’t like to talk about my time there because, when I decided for myself that I truly wanted something different…I felt ashamed. Everyone knew I was in law school and headed for “big things” and I didn’t know how people would see me if I quit something. I was scared of what my parents would think. My dad put this “College of Law” license plate frame on his car and couldn’t wait to tell everyone his daughter was going to be a fancy lawyer (I think). That’s not to say they’re not happy for me now — they are! But I was conflicted by what I thought was best for me, and what others perceived as the best for me. In the beginning of law school I was intoxicated with all the great things people would say about me and my path…how smart I was, and how successful I would become. I felt like people really started to believe in me after that.

The immediate reactions I received after quitting were so surprising that it sort of felt like an out-of-body experience. People I didn’t even know (of whom I was helping at the Genius Bar after I quit school) called me stupid — literally, outright. Some customers even suggested I go back to law school immediately because I was, “throwing [my] life away.” I was happy when I quit — why was it unacceptable to people? What gave them the right to think I needed something else? People I had known for a long, long time would look at me and figure I probably flunked out (I didn’t). They would say things like, “Ah…too hard huh? Yeah I hear law school is hard but it’s only three years of your life! You couldn’t even do that??” Sorry — who asked you again?

Here’s a pro tip: when someone makes a big life decision and they change routes in the middle…tell them you’re proud of them for being strong. Tell them they’re doing something great for their life and the only opinion that truly matters is their own. Tell them you’re happy as long as they’re happy, and don’t call them stupid for following their dreams just because those don’t match yours. Don’t reflect all of your pastimes and regrets onto them.

One and a half years after quitting law school, I’m just now feeling confident in my abilities. I’m learning subjects that make me feel good about myself and I no longer question my sense of worth in the world. I don’t second guess myself at every decision I make because I’m starting to realize that I know what’s best for me. I can wake up in the morning without being in a panic about my life and my anxiety is under control. One and a half years later…I can finally say I feel like I’m on solid ground and on a fierce path that I blazed for myself. I didn’t take the road most travelled (or the least expensive one…that’s for another post). However I think it makes for quite an interesting set of skills and a background that never leaves me wondering what my “interesting fact” should be in an icebreaker. My emotional and mental stability today is astounding compared to what it was a year ago and I think that’s a pretty great feat.

Only you will know what’s best for you. Don’t do something just because people want you to — and don’t continue something for the same reason. Think for yourself. Become the person you’re most proud of…not the one everyone else is proud of. If you choose to pursue the latter, you will forever be wandering on a road of inadequacy and judgment because THEY DON’T WANT US TO BE HAPPY (a la DJ Khaled). In all seriousness — just choose the things that make you want to keep waking up in the morning and drown out everyone else’s opinions about you. You are worth more than you know and you bring so much to life — do it in the way that best suites you.

(Also this is my first post on Medium…apologies for the textual and visual errors)