Paralysis and Positive Thinking

Getting Things Done: The InboxTrinity via Flickr

I have so much to do that I'm hyperventilating just trying to write down a list.  Instead of just plowing through my work, I'm watching episodes of Arrested Development that I've seen a hundred times, browsing fashion blogs, and laughing uproariously at Hyperbole and a Half.  (Ed. note: H&1/2 is a fantastic way to spend one's time.  If I had more of it, this would not be a problem.)  I feel emotionally paralyzed, unable to start my work even though I know I have the time, energy, and intellectual capacity to get it done. 

So I thought, If I can't summon the vigor to start any legal work, at least I can work on my blog!

But this isn't just an extension of the Dark Days post from earlier (uh-oh: two therapeutic posts in a row!), it's a follow-up with a little perspective.  So far, this blog has been mostly about complaining (albeit euphemistically called "confronting my weaknesses").  Today I'm going to talk about some success.

Wedding ring       via WikipediaMy best breakthrough is my relationship w/ the hubby.  The positive changes are due in large part to his efforts.  We'd been bickering a lot, about a whole bunch of different things, and he has taken the lead in diffusing those situations over the past couple of weeks.  I'd also like to congratulate myself on following that lead (I'm not usually great at avoiding conflict, even unnecessary conflict).  I've made a point to close my happy little mouth and/or retreat to a quiet room with a book rather than snip about something 
that truly won't matter to me in an hour.  I've also made a point to tell him how much I appreciate the changes he's made, because without those changes I wouldn't have had the opportunity to change my own behaviors.  Fighting less has made it so much easier to appreciate all the little things, too. It's been great.

On the financial front, I also cut down on the stress-shopping.  I went Black Friday shopping, and enjoyed it because I went with someone awesome!  I bought a couple of things for myself, but by and large I stuck to the gift list and I was proud of myself for that.  I got a lot of the Christmas presents out of the way and I'm really pleased with the outcome.  Hubby and I also paid off a credit card account in full this month, which is exciting.

Professionally, I branched out a little bit and contacted some firms in smaller markets.  I also followed 
My Sword Glows Blue in the Presence of Rules L...          WilWheaton via Flickrup, and I even have an informational interview!  It very well might come to nothing, but it's the first semi-positive feedback I've gotten in a while and I'm happy to have it.  Also on the professional front, I stuck up for a colleague when I thought they needed sticking up for, and that made me proud.  In another professional situation, I owned up to a mistake, took a deep breath and figured out how to dig myself out of the issue.  

Personally, I've finished a solid post on this blog!  I can't underestimate the effect this project is having.  It facilitates my introspection and gives me a creative, productive, but non-stressful outlet for times when I'm feeling overwhelmed.  I need to remember to do this more when I am incapable of doing my other work; I have a long list of potential posts just waiting to be written, so I know that I could fill my "nonproductive" time with this and develop myself even if I'm not developing in other external areas. 

Listing all of these positive occurrences lifts me out of my paralysis.  I am still feeling stressed and overwhelmed, but I know that focusing on what my efforts have gotten me recently helps me to put more effort in.  On that note, I'll be going now so I don't waste this mood! 

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Dark Days Disrupt the Balance

Dance of the Darkness Monsters (#2)Big Fat Rat via Flickr

The dark days can really get you down.  I like rain and I don't mind when the sun goes away for a while: what I'm talking about here is metaphysical darkness.  It feels oppressive, as heavy as it is invisible.  The world looks the same as it did yesterday but your mind can't seem to grasp the bright parts. All you can think about are all the things that are going wrong.

After many, many freakouts in the last three years, I've learned that my sense of balance is extremely delicate. I'm spinning a lot of plates on a lot of sticks, and as long as everything keeps moving I'm fine. Really fine.  Fine to the point that nobody, not even my husband, not even myself, can tell how close to meltdown I am.  Then, suddenly and (sometimes) through no fault of my own, one of the plates screeches to a halt. Everything crashes down.  Suddenly I'm buried in   rubble, screaming and terrified and completely unable to get out.

Sounds like fun, huh?

My primary social group is feeling this way this week. It's been building in various aspects of our respective existences, and I don't know that everyone else is handling it as poorly as I am.  I hope they're not- but I fear they are. And I fear we aren't the only ones in the building. I feel like our entire community is designing for a nervous breakdown.  The negativity spreads and infects (but that's another post). 

Alice in Wonderland: White Rabbit - Who Killed...Brandon Christopher Warren via FlickrSo for now I'm just trying to breathe. If the rubble was real I'd hope for rescue, but the metaphysical stuff is all me.  I have to concentrate, move slowly, and keep the panic under control long enough to dig myself out. A few more weeks and the semester will be over.  A few more months and law school will be.  A year and I'll be in a job, making a paycheck, licenses to practice.  

When I look at it this way, Time might not be my enemy after all. Nobody can stop Time from marching by, and if it marches long enough all of this will be behind me.

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Clock Caucas' via Flickr
Time has become my enemy.  The enmity between us developed slowly.  While we weren't friends First Year, there were no hard feelings.  Admittedly, we pulled some nasty pranks on each other during Second Year:  she snuck up on me before brief and memo due dates, I kept her guessing by refusing to sleep, etc.  This year, we are engaged in all-out war.

I provoked the conflict by belligerently occupying every
                  interesting-look ing leadership position I could get my hands on.  I
                                      have about 110 hours worth of work any given week, and if you do the math you can see that it's not a healthy habit.  I've been under siege for two months and peace talks are not going well.  And because I wasn't built with an unstoppable military-industrial complex under my skin, the home front is feeling the strain.  There will undoubtedly be more on the home front in other posts.
I can't surrender; fulfilling my obligations gives me pride and pride is precious these days.  But even I recognize that this is an unwinnable war.
Abandonment              Rickydavid via Flickr
My only option is to find some kind of peace-with-honor.  I need to be content with doing the best that I can with the time that I have.  I need to minimize the time I spend alone, which usually only leads to sleep or television.  I need to manage expectations of the time I spend with others; group study time must be spent studying, and social time must be spent replenishing my overextended resources.  I need to focus on the tasks at hand until that task is over.  These are goals I have for the next few weeks.  

Time will always run out on me, but I can stop running out on myself.
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So I'm LuckyLegis, and this is my story of redemption. 

Cheat sheet in a juice boxvia Wikipedia
I didn't cheat on my exams, either.
Ok ok, so maybe it's not as dramatic as all that . . . .  I didn't murder anyone, I didn't cheat on my husband, I didn't dent someone's car without leaving a note. But that's not the point.  

I came to law school with extremely high standards for myself.  Almost three years later, I have nigh unreachable standards for everyone.  Those standards have activated some rather unpleasant aspects of my personality: condescension, impatience, jealousy, insecurity (just to name a few).

We joked about the 3L bitches when we got here.  Now I am one.  Many people who know me will say I'm exaggerating, but then again I don't say everything in my head out loud.  I'm afraid only my closest friend (my husband) knows the half of it, and that's why I've started this blog.

FortalezaImage by 丹涅拉 - Dani Gama via Flickr
You can see I'm kind of a hippie.
You can't fix the problem if you're focused on hiding it, and I'm going to air out my hideous little problems here.  On my best day, I'm still the person I was three years ago and I know I can get back to being that person all the time.  This blog is part of that journey.

As I acknowledge in this blog's description, I'm usually not going to talk about the professional aspects of law school.  I love the work that I'm doing; the work was never the problem.  The incidental influences of the work are what I'm worried about, and those are what I'll focus on.  I invite you to share your own law school experiences in the comments!  I've enable anonymous posting for just that reason, but you can of course disclose your own identity if you like.  I'd rather you not disclose anyone else's- this blog isn't supposed to be a video camera; it's supposed to be a reflection pool.
Thanks for reading! 
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