Three years ago today, I graduated from Bryan College with my bachelor’s degree. I then chose to take a gap year (er, two) before attending law school. In an alternative universe, I would have gone straight to law school. Instead of ending of my 1L year, this week would culminate in my graduation from legal education. That was the plan.
I am so glad it did not happen that way.
It strikes me as funny when I talk about the past two years. I murmur offhandedly, “Oh, I worked for a few years before coming to law school.” As if two of the most formative years of my life were just NBD…no big deal.
I suppose in the big picture they might prove just that: a mere blip in time between college and my “real” career as a lawyer.
But even if that is the case, I wouldn’t trade those years with AFP for anything. My work there developed so much of who I am and how I see myself. I can’t imagine who I would be if I went straight from my undergraduate to the pressure cooker that is law school. That vision holds no appeal for me.
From an academic standpoint, straight-from-undergraduate-me might have embraced law school better. Independence would mean little to her, so a life of student loans and borrowed rides to church would feel natural. I would still be a perfectionist with an angsty desire to go go go so I imagine I would have joined just as many clubs (if not more) and still jumped into an internship as soon as possible. From a practical standpoint, I doubt my legal career so far would look very different.
Yet that isn’t quite true. I landed both my legal internships to date because of my connection with AFP. I’ve prioritized certain activities and de-emphasized others because I know the sort of people I want to be around. I’ve approached projects and people and ideas with the confidence of someone who has achieved something difficult, and failed multiple times while doing it.
I am so much more me because I waited two years. Also, I owe a heck of a lot less loans because I paid off those undergraduate ones.
It gives me hope for the next three years. I never saw myself here three years ago, and yet here I am. Who knows what will come next? The only thing I know for certain is that whatever it is, I’ve been equipped and mentored and well prepared for it. And if I fail? I’ve got an amazing community that will cheer me on anyway.
(Plus, I can always peace back to the mountains of Idaho and live the rest of my life in chacos, right?)