Law school, as anyone who has ever been a law student will tell you, is occasionally so stress-inducing that some students will day dream about leaving it all behind and moving to Hawaii to open a swimsuit boutique called “Splish Splash” that also sells dog supplies.
Wait, nevermind that last part, I think that’s exclusively me. But in any case, Law School is not easy, especially when coupled with student leadership, clinics, competition teams/ and or journal and job applications, as is the case for so many of my citizen lawyer peers at William and Mary.
As an undergrad, I was always busy. When I rowed, I had as many as two practices daily, and I was active in both my sorority and on the debate team, while still having a full class load. Although it wasn’t easy, my sleepless nights were limited and I was seldom extremely stressed out.
This changed when I went to Law School. I had just started dabbling in my disability advocacy work and with speaking. Once I got to back to Virginia and was able to get even more involved in advocacy work, my speaking engagements increased drastically which meant I had to be on the road more and more. Additionally, I started competing again in the Miss Virginia Organization, which meant I had to focus my efforts on preparing for every aspect of the compeition. And now, instead of the undergraduate course work I was accustomed to, I had to focus more on the more advanced and specialized law school curriculum, while applying for jobs and getting involved in student organizations I was interested in.
Even though I absolutely loved everything I was doing, sometimes the stress got to the point where I stopped feeling the joy I usually felt while working on a project or giving a talk. My classes felt more tedious and less engrossing. And I knew it was time for a change.
First, I took a look at what I was doing to take time for myself, and the answer was, in all honesty, not much. Aside from the time I had on the road listening to music, my downtime was limited. So I started to consciously carve out at least an hour a day to just relax- whether it was by reading a book, watching netflix, writing or just taking a nap.
I then identified another issue: lack of sleep. You need sleep. Your body does not function without it. I realized quickly that I was definitely not getting anywhere near recommended six to eight hours, and I made a conscious effort to sleep at least five to six hours a day, and whenever possible eight hours a day. The difference in my attitude was night and day (get the pun?).
Another huge issue for me was that I was overextending myself too much. I’ve always been bad at saying no to things, but I recognized that it was getting serious enough that I needed to sit down and figure out what my priorities were, which meant not doing a few things I had initially really wanted to do to focus on things that ultimately were more important to me. It meant, that instead of taking into account what other people wanted me to do, to only take into account what I felt was right for me. The week after my first year of law school ended, I made a list of my priorities and goals, and eliminating things that didn’t help me to achieve those goals. It wasn’t an easy list to make, but now that I have it, it’s been easier for me to focus on what’s really important. Having that list helped me to strategically plan a schedule for next year that will allow me the time I need to work towards my professional goals, while still being able to take time to do things like sleep, read and go to the gym.
Look, life will not always be stress-free, especially when you’re living a life full of what you love! But that stress doesn’t have to consume you. With the proper schedule management, you’ll be ready to take on any challenge that comes your way.
As always, keep being amazing.