March 14, 2009 § 4 Comments

I often feel like my entire life has been one big fight against going to law school.  Seriously.  Everything I have done has been to avoid going to law school.  My entire path so far has happened the way it happened, mainly, to prove to my parents that I could be successful without going to law school.

But I’m at a dead end.

Last night my dad sat me down, poured me a glass of our favorite microbrew (BBC Steel Rail) and told me that I was about to make a huge mistake that  could fuck me over for the rest of my life.

I have sortof come to the conclusion that while teaching is ok, it’s not what I want to do right now.  If I went straight into teaching, I would always regret not exploring other options.

I have gotten rejected from 5 out of 6 PhD programs in American Studies, and I expect the last rejection letter any day now.  So, grad school for American Studies is not really an option.  I probably could have been accepted to a program out in Kansas or somewhere, but I’m not sure enough that I want a PhD in American Studies to commit to five yeras in a far away, possibly lame, place.  So, reapplying is out.

Right now, my plan is to move to Boston, move in with a good friend, and try to get a job in the public health/health education/sex education field.  I have been looking for jobs, and applying when find one.  So far, I’ve found two to apply to.  There is really not a lot out there.

My dad thinks this plan is a huge mistake.  If I get a job right now at a non-profit or other big health organization, I will have to work my way up to a decent salary but I will never be more than middle class, and I will always “work for someone else,” meaning I will never be able to set my own hours or work where I want.  I will never have that “professional” lifestyle that he, as a doctor, has, and that I could have with a law degree.  Or a MA or PhD in Public Health.

Plus, he argued (and this was the killer) I could make much more of a difference in the world as a reproductive rights/women’s health lawyer or Public Health policy-maker, than I could as someone working in middle management at a non-profit, pushing paper, which is all I could really hope for if I continued along the path I’m going.

That hits hard.  If there is one thing I know, it is that I am an idealistic and ambitious person who will be unsatisfied if I do not do something incredible or important with my life.

My dad says that in order to reach that “professional” status, you have to eat shit for a few years.  You have to be willing to be miserable for a few years for the big payoff.  And the payoff will be big, he assures me.  It will mean an upper middle class lifestyle, job security, and more control and freedom over where, when, and how much you work.

I hate to say it, but he may have convinced me.  I don’t know much about what a Public Health degree would entail.  But I do know about law school. I’ve been avoiding it my whole life!

Is this really happening?  Am I considering the possibility of law school? Of misery the likes of which I’ve never experienced for three whole years?


§ 4 Responses to Really?

  • Aviv says:

    Do your research:
    1. Get a book like “Pathfinders”, and define what you want your life to be like. It’s really hard but really important, so that you minimize external influences like “my dad wants it” or “I want to show my folks I can do without it”.
    2. Read up about what sort of classes are in public health. If the names of the classes bore you, you will probably suffer there too.

    It’s rough figuring out what you want to do when you grow up. Good luck no matter what path you take.

  • TSM says:

    Public Health is exploding and it comes in many, many different flavors – including law.

    I recommend reading “Mountains beyond Mountains” the story of Paul Founder, an MD (in Boston actually) who has set the standard for Public Health approaches, ethics, etc. You may discover that making a contribution trumps all of the qualities that your parents think should guide you. You can also have a completely indepentdant life being an artist, realtor, inventor, etc. We don’t all have to be “professionals” in the traditional 1970’s sense.

    I also recommend moving out of the basement and walking the walk for a change – and stop your bitching… Life can be a lot harder that yours has apparently been. Count your lucky stars and get to work on what makes you happy!!

  • institutrice says:

    You gotta do what YOU want to do. Your dad’s advice sounds great, but I’ve been in the “professional” field of Teaching for ten years, and I’m still “eating shit.” (Plus the 2.5 years of grad school before that) With this economy, you can’t count on anything anymore.

    Do what makes you happy, and the rest will fall into place. Don’t over-think it. Trust me. 😦

  • jojo says:

    you should talk to my sister– she’s in women’s health advocacy/non-profit world and has been for years in a variety of positions.

    also, there is no reason you can’t do the boston/sex-health-ed-job dealie AND IF YOU WANT change your life in any way you fancy and go to law school or do something we haven’t even thought of yet. i don’t recommend talking yourself into anything. not like the nerves you had when clicking accept to go to england, i’m talking about– being this anxious the whole ‘thinking about’ and application process. that doesn’t sound like a good idea.

    my point is there is no such thing as too late at this moment in your life. don’t be scared that you will ruin your life if you don’t listen to your dad. he’s just more scared than you are right now– and neither of you know how any of your paths will work out. and that’s a blessing. infinite possibilities lie ahead. i have faith (in you) xojojo

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