Law degree at 28; blossoming legal career at 35; smiling family at 40.
Or so I thought. Somehow my tickin’ clock overlooked the Great Recession, mind-numbing legal positions, and familial strife.
Entering law school in 2004 (with a forceful push from an overbearing father), I scuffled my way to the bloated middle of the class. While I enjoyed law school’s intellectual challenge, the coursework was drier than your average late-night comedian. And while I formed genuine relationships with law school classmates, our conversations centered on esoteric legal principles and condescending law school professors.
If I wanted a tired plotline, I would have plopped down for a Law and Order marathon.
As I studied for the Bar, I questioned whether I really wanted a traditional law job. Paraphrasing Mitch McConnell’s infamous quote, nevertheless I persisted — through the Bar and into the floundering legal market.
Anyone want a lawyer who isn’t that interested in practicing law? Anyone? After languishing in one legal contractual position after another, I opted to return to graduate school this year. Graduate school has been preferable — much preferable — to reviewing documents of two insurance companies squabbling over market share and profit margin.
Color me bored — and inspired to pursue something far removed from insurance drivel.
Now 36, I am a recovering lawyer — more recovering than lawyer. And as I have returned to graduate school, I have gained a newfound perspective.
Learning is fun. Seriously. And it doesn’t stop once you high step through law school graduation — or, for that matter, any degree program.
For many 30 somethings returning for another degree, there is a natural hesitation. Am I pausing my life? What about society’s expectations? And for those scarred by the Great Recession, will this work out?
While I left my Magic Eight Ball at home, my career experiences (like most Great Recession graduates) confirmed one unassailable truth: There are no guarantees in life. You can spend your life shackled in Cubicleville, drearily sifting through TPS reports and eying your office’s Morton warily. Or you can take a calculated chance and channel your passion into a more fulfilling career than, well, insurance executives exchanging litigious threats.
As for society’s expectation — or your parents, they are irrelevant. At a certain age, you substitute your own expectations for outsiders — however well-intentioned they might be. If you want to pursue an acting career, go for it. If you want to return to graduate school, start researching affordable programs. And if you strive to be a self-deprecating Psych Central central, well, it takes one to know one.
Life is about reinventing yourself. And in order to reinvent yourself, you have to find out what feeds your soul. For some, it will be law school at 28; blossoming legal career at 35; smiling family at 40. For others, it will be law school at 28; stumbling legal career at 35; graduate school at 36. And, of course, a million more unplanned adventures.
The real midlife crisis?
Staying in a mindless job — or career — one day too long. And thinking you ever graduate from the school of life.