It's Way Too Early To Panic: How To Get Past The Quarter-Life Crisis


Recently, one of the attorneys I work with came up to my cubicle to ask me if I was thinking about law school. The majority of them know I'm graduating in a few months and have been hounding me with this question.

"I mean I would obviously want to go eventually." "Don't do it," she responded.

Now, she isn't the first person to say this to me. Mostly everyone who I have talked to about the subject, especially those who have gone, have told me not to go. As if I'm going to catch some disease by going to law school.

My main reason for wanting to go into law was to help people. To me, the best way I could help someone was by helping him or her legally, fighting for someone. During my time in college, I have learned about so many cases, so many intriguing diverse instances that have changed and shaped the way our legal system runs, so many people that positively benefitted from the legal work of lawyers and judges. I thought to myself, ‘I could do this.’

I recently started working in a legal office located in a courthouse in which I am surrounded by attorneys and superiors in the legal world. Just about every one of them has asked me the same question upon meeting me: “So, are you thinking about law school?”

This question is probably the only question I can never confidently answer.

“Maybe. I mean, in a year or so. You know, take some time off to travel.”

Typical responses include but are not limited to: “Don't do it.” “LSATs were the hardest thing I've ever done.” “Ha! Take time to travel? You mean take time to save to pay for law school.”

The other day I got caught up speaking with one of the supervisors while giving her one of my cases to review. She too asked if I wanted to go to law school. After I had blurted out a bunch of responses, she said something I will keep with me: "Sam, I'm 48 years old and I'm still figuring out what I want to do when I grow up. Don't sweat it if you don't know yet."

I sat back at my desk and realized, I actually don't know what I want to do. ‘Wait, did I just waste four years going to a school that costs so much I'll probably have to sell my organs to pay off?’

Before I had switched my major to Pre-Law, I was an English major in hopes of doing something concerning writing, reading, researching, anything along those lines. My younger sister goes to school to study screen writing, and I spend everyday now completely jealous of her.

But I thought to myself: all I really want to do is help people, in that corny, cliché way. Writing can help people, right? I thought of all the books I've read, articles that have changed the way I look at the world. It hit me, that is what makes me happy, and that's what I want to do.

I don't want to be 40-something and wake up wishing I would get fired from my job because I hate it so badly. When I mentioned this epiphany to one of my good friends, he brought up his father. His father had been an air traffic controller and when the time came for him to retire, he cried. "And that's what you need to find. Something you're going to cry about when you have to stop doing it," he said.

There are so many people out in the world doing what they love and making a living. If they can do it, then well, why can't I?

Why was I sitting in a cubicle doing constant paperwork, reading cases that made me feel compassion for those involved, and for what? You're not allowed to feel bad for the people involved. Eventually you will feel numb to it. Instead of feeling glad that the victim is okay, you'll be more upset that you've lost your case. Anyone with any sort of relation to law school has told me one thing and one thing only: you have to really love the law.

And well, no. I don't really love the law. At least not right now.

The future isn't always as you assume it's going to be. The plans that you've deliberated over for years can suddenly change in a second. If you've found your passion early in life, that's great. But I've found so many people who tell me they are meant to do one thing in life; but also wishing they had still pursued that one passion they loved. That's okay.

If you don't like the road you're on, take a left turn. Change your path. Stop at the red light and take a break. It's okay to be lost. So many people believe that settling down with one thing means you're destined to stay in that same place. This leaves so many people unhappy. But that isn't always the case. No one has it all figured out and if someone says they do, I would be skeptical.

I mean I could have spent the last few years in school studying something else, but who knows, maybe I'll decide to go to law school one day. For now, it isn't the path I need to be on, and I'm okay with that. It's better than nothing. Law has been something that has held my interest for so long, and when I'm ready to take that step, it'll still be there.

Become a writer; become an air traffic controller; make music; be a dancer; be a farmer (which was actually my first career choice at the ripe age of six); own a winery; be a nurse; do it all. The world is a place full of possibilities. You could walk out the door one day and have your life changed forever. Never feel that you can't change your mind; nothing is set in stone. Always know that you are strong enough to achieve whatever you set your mind to, no matter how late in the game you choose to do it.

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