With every day that passes, I am fighting a rising sense of utter panic. I don’t know if I want to do this. I have been working my whole life toward this moment… all with my eye on the prize of admission to law school and an eventual J.D. My father is a lawyer and since I was a little girl I have dreamed about following in his footsteps. The problem, I think, is that law school has been my goal for so long that I’ve never really stopped to examine it, and now I’m afraid that it’s way too late to change my mind… Despite the fact that my dad and I are very similar people, he never had experiences like mine. My priorities are just… well, different. He graduated from a state law school and has practiced in his home state ever since. I am a mover; I yearn to go; I don’t want to stay in one place and work myself to the bone… When I think about being a lawyer, I panic. In my heart I’ve always wanted to be a writer.
My heart bleeds for the girl—maybe because I’ve been there. Haven’t we all? That unpleasant place where it feels as though you’re on cruise control, being driven by inertia, watching the time go by, second-guessing every decision you’ve ever made that’s brought you to this point, and convinced that stopping the train would take strength of superhuman proportions. “Terrified” describes feeling that it’s “way too late” to change directions. I stuck on those words, let my mind ramble, and lingered on a thought: do you ever hear men talk this way? Do you think the message we as women are fed—that our stock goes down as our age goes up—makes us extra conscious of the clock, an underlying worry that seeps into everything, intensifying the pressure we feel every time we find ourselves at a crossroads? And then there’s Jack Welch’s “women can’t have it all” comment, which Barbara blogged about yesterday. It’s 2009, and still we fight that idea, even as we internalize it: if I can’t have it all, I better pick wisely. And in a hurry. The clock’s a-tickin’.
Tennis’ advice? Think happy thoughts, go to law school. You can always drop out if you change your mind.