November 23, 2010

The Right Way? - What I Did Over My Summer Vacation

By Ariana P.

I did what every rising junior in college does over their summer vacation: plan their future.  Planning my future is one of the scariest things I have ever done in my entire life because the future is so uncertain, an adjective that I dislike the most.  I NEED certainty in my life; I thrive on it.  Taking away certainty from me is like taking a teddy bear away from a little girl. 

Where do you even start?  People always say start with the question: what do you like to do the most?  The hidden footnote is that it has to be something you can make money from.  I love shopping, but what stable career can I get from that?  Money is always important when deciding your career.  Sure, you can do what you love, but what if it something that does not give you benefits or gives you a crappy paycheck?  Would you still want to do it?  My major is political science, and I like it.  From studying political science, the assumption is that you want to go to law school.  That’s what I had to ultimately decide this summer.  It sounds like a simple question to answer, but let me tell you…it really, really, REALLY is not.

This summer I had an internship at the District Attorney’s office which was supposed to help introduce me to the world of law.  I did learn a lot of things from it, but in order to get there, I had to go through a phase of complete confusion.  Before starting my internship, I was about 80% sure I wanted to go to law school.  I thought this internship would be a great way to see how law school is from people who are currently going to one.  When I told them I was pretty sure I was going to law school, they all said the same thing: “Don’t do it.”  This made me stop in my tracks.  These are people who have either gone or are going to law school, and they are telling me NOT to go.  I freaked out.  If I was not going to go to law school, what in the world would I do then?  Graduate school?  Get a job?  Become a couch potato and eat junk food for the rest of my life?

I was completely overwhelmed and disheartened by these words.  I began to feel that if I were to go to law school, and it being very necessary to go to the best law school, or else what would possibly be the point – so I have been told -  I would absolutely fail.  Hearing the attorneys’ advice proved that it would be impossible to accomplish any of my goals and that I would just fail in my profession and subsequent professional life.  I then started to think of other possible career options for me.  What did I want to do?

Considering what I wanted to do was not, for me, a simple conversation I could have by myself.  Making big decisions like this needs my family to be included.  I absolutely value their opinion, and this important conversation needed to happen with them.  Cue to dinner.  I finally start talking about a possible career in psychology, and my parents asked me why I decided not to apply to law school anymore.  Finally, the story that was never said comes out.  I told them all about what I heard concerning law school and how that basically decided it for me.

The fear of not talking about this aloud to my family was so great.  If they agreed with me that would only confirm that I really would be incapable of going to law school… However, the subsequent lecture that came from my parents truly affected me.   They told me that I cannot listen to what other people say and that I should not let it affect me.  I just need to do what I know I need to do despite what others say.  While those attorneys did not say those things purposely to stop me from going to law school, they did not and do not know who I am and what I am capable of.  I had learned that I was seriously underestimating myself.  While I think that is a normal occurrence, in this particular situation, I was SERIOUSLY underestimating myself.  No matter what I do or where I go, everything is going to be hard; there is no easy way out.  If it is not hard, then it most likely is not worth doing.

Despite the lecture they gave me, I still needed to hear if my parents thought I could accomplish law school.  If they truly and honestly believed I could, then I would definitely try my hardest.  So I asked them point blank if they think I could do it, and they said yes.  The conversation with my parents taught me that I should not have internalized all that I was feeling.  I needed to trust myself and ignore what everyone else was saying.  I had let my fears and doubts make my decision for me which made me undermine my abilities and immediately decide that I was not capable.  My parents would not push me into a situation they knew I could not accomplish, and I needed to realize that I was and am capable.

I know that I need to start believing those things in order to trust myself because then nothing can stop me.  My past and present academic record should be evidence enough, to me, of my capabilities.  Yet they aren‘t.  Yes, these things have happened to me, but I don’t really see them as proving anything.  I have this feeling that some or most college women feel this way also.  We underestimate our abilities and internalize all of the struggles we go through.  Why?  Why is it so hard to simply start a conversation about major events going on in our lives?  For that conversation with my parents to happen, they were the ones who had to bring it up.  I simply did not want to.  I thought that I decided what I am going to do and there was not anything that could really change it, but I was seriously wrong.

Ariana  P. is a guest post contributor to the WCC blog with her NEW ongoing column, The Right Way? Ariana is currently a junior at Bryn Mawr College where she is majoring in Political Science and minoring in Gender and Sexuality Studies.  Her intention for the column is to share her experiences during the last two years in her college bubble before she enters the big and scary real world.  She hopes you enjoy her posts because she certainly enjoys writing them. 


  1. Awesome post!
    You can do it! (I know that sounds incredibly corny, but I felt it was appropriate)

  2. Everyone feels insecure about their intelligence at some point in their life. Constantly debating if you're intelligent enough to accomplish a personal goal is tiring and counterproductive, which in your case is law school. It's simple, you only have believe in yourself and work hard, and you will be able to accomplish anything you set your mind to. The sky really is the limit.

    Good luck with your studies and getting into a top law program.

  3. You are lucky to have parents and family that believe in your intelligence and talent. Even more so, open communication with your loved ones is not always a given in one's life.
    The discouraging tone set in the law office was maybe a consequence of their own personal disillusionment(s). Maybe it is THEY who lacked in effort and optimism to actually achieve some validation in the profession of law. DON"T sell yourself short. However, also be honest with yourself as to whether or not your TRUE calling in life is to be an attorney. There are MANY fields of law, and maybe the lawyers in your internship were pigeon-holed in one that they did not like.
    Be a strong woman and believe in the goodness of people and what life has to offer. After all, you are my niece...


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