Home > 1L, just me > i was fooling even myself

i was fooling even myself

November 9, 2005

All my life, I’ve been hearing my mom tell me that “stress kills.” She’s always been very concerned that I take time to relax, to unwind, to clear my mind. And I’ve generally been pretty good about it. Much as I say I am a stress bunny, I’m actually pretty laid back. I get into panic mode near deadlines, but I tend to stay pretty low-key even through a difficult stretch.

I thought I was dealing with law school the same way. I haven’t felt panicked and I haven’t needed to pull any marathon study sessions. I haven’t been sleeping all that well, but I’d chalked that up to the ungodly heat in our apartment.

Over the weekend, I realized how wrong I was. Stress is doing strange things to me, physically and emotionally. I just didn’t notice it because I hadn’t hit any real deadlines. No deadlines = no panic. Sure, I had a memo to turn in, but I worked on it sort of consistently over about four days and got it done, even with a little time to spare. The memo wasn’t really a source of panic for me. And exams are still a few weeks away, so I’m not feeling any overwhelming pressure from that end. I’ve been, again, consistently working on my outlines, and a group of us are going to work on practice exams over the next couple of weeks, so I feel on track.

But the stress has clearly been building up. Somewhere. And it hit me full force over the weekend. Not the stress itself, but what the stress has been doing to my body and mind. Basically, I’m exhausted. But because I didn’t realize it, I haven’t been doing anything to counter it.

This four-month stretch is probably the longest stretch I’ve gone without any real break. Even in college we had Fall Break. At work, projects usually lasted a couple of months, or were broken down into month- or week-long chunks. But law school is a marathon. I don’t necessarily mean that the lenght of the semester is all that difficult–what’s difficult is that there is no pause to it. Four months of school, with one exam at the end. No break in the middle to brain dump and refresh. Sure, we have grades in legal writing, but even that doesn’t alleviate the constant mental work. It’s only 2 credits, after all.

So here I am, with essentially two weeks of school left, and my body and mind have started to drag. Well, except that they haven’t–they’re just compensating. All my reserves that might have gone to feed a desire to go see a movie or go shopping are poured into school. Things that I used to enjoy have become chores. I just didn’t notice before the past weekend because I was so focused on school.

I took some time over the weekend to let it out, talk it over, and refresh a little. It was much needed, believe me. I’m not diverting all my energy as much, but consequently I have less drive to get my reading done and less willingness to actively engage in class. I’ve been running low on gas, and now I actually know it. Thanksgiving is, thankfully, only two weeks away, though. It’ll be a welcome break, but only if I can get through classes and keep up with my outlining between now and then.

Law school is a learning process. But it’s not just about the academics, the intellectual challenges, and the legal practices. Of all the experiences I’ve had, law school is teaching me the most about myself. And not about how I learn or what interests me, but about what I can tolerate and how far I can push myself.

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Categories: 1L, just me
  1. ptlawstudent
    November 10, 2005 at 9:36 am

    Lurker…de-lurking…

    I’m feeling you here.

    I feel drained from work and school. I know everything I should/need to do when I get home, but I don’t want to do anything. I don’t even want to do fun stuff.

    Last week I was worn down enough that I caught a mild cold. The only thing I’m looking forward to is Thanksgiving and only so that I can catch up on sleep.

    I had a photo prof in undergrad that sometimes described this as the “well going dry.” At times like this she suggested taking the time to put aside work and go out and do something on your own. Go to a museum or something different. Forcing yourself to see something outside your routine could help re-fill the well. I plan to try that this weekend.

    Oh yeah, I also find I’m really missing my friends. How about you?

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