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when a weighing of options pays off–and you wish it hadn't

May 18, 2007

As law students, we become very used to being very busy and, to a certain extent, we take that in stride. We sleep less, perhaps, or we multi-task; we do less of our reading in favor of going to class–or skip class in favor of doing more reading, depending on the prof. And sometimes, we have to make genuine sacrifices–completely abandoning a class for a week or two while we finish a Note or Comment, or putting journal duties aside while we madly cram for exams. We do mental cost-benefit analyses–how much can I give away here without really hurting my GPA?

This semester, I had to make one of those sacrifices. I admit it–I had too much on my plate. I was doing research and I was TAing, I was doing source and cite and I was trying to go to every class meeting. This semester I also had two papers to write, and, in the end, I skimped on one of them. I felt intense guilt the entire time. I loved the topic, I love the discussion in class, I loved the grayness of the area of law. But the paper–the paper I had problems with. I never felt a connection with my topic, I never really understood what I was arguing, I never really Got It. Instead of spending more time on it, though, instead of arranging to meet with the professor and talk it out, instead of making the effort to do something I felt good about, I punted. I wrote something superficial and wimpy, and what I turned in is something I am not very proud of.

Luckily, as I discovered today, the cost-benefit analysis I did paid off. I got a grade I probably didn’t deserve, and then it got bumped even higher because of my class participation. I am happy that class won’t be the dark spot on my semester–very, very happy. But I am disappointed in myself for not giving the paper the chance it really deserved. So I’ll enjoy the sweet–the grade I never hoped to get in that class–but it will be cut by a bit of bitter guilt.

Categories: 2L
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