A reflective penance post

This morning, I sat with my law school class for our first full orientation day. They put us in the ceremonial courtroom – all two-hundred odd new kids – and read us a long list of statistics about who we are. They told us how many of us were students of color, and how many were from out of state, and how many were from out of countrh. They told us how many of us had masters degrees and how many of us had been in the military before beginning law school. They told us how old we were, how long we had collectively worked, and how long we had collectively studied.

When you’re sitting and being sorted twenty-eight different ways to your face, the way you pass the time is by putting yourself in the percentage groups you belong to. I’m in the 28%. I’m in the 43%. I’m in the 97%. I’m in the 8%. I was 100% of a person five times over this morning, listening to those opening remarks. I felt like not enough to hold all those numbers.

It occurred to me, sitting there and being arranged on all sides like a Rubix Cube block in that many-colored first-year class, that half a year ago I didn’t think this was going to happen. I didn’t believe I would make it. Half a year ago I was writing up my contingency plan for when I failed – what I would do when no one took me and I made ready to wait the painful year to try again.

I don’t mean this to be any kind of See what happens when I put my mind to it? kind of post. It wasn’t any determination on my part that put me there, really, or at least not any to any extraordinary degree. I made it by hard work and good fortune, like everybody else there.

I only want to say that I sat in class this morning and realized that I will think of this, the next time I’m so anxious I can’t do anything but sob at the thought of trying only to fail. I’m going to look at this in painful months to come, and be able to say definitively, My mind is not always right about what it is and is not possible for me to do. I am in law school. This is proof.

My brain will probably try to convince me it was a fluke, as it does sometimes when it’s being terrible. It’s not going to happen this time, it will probably say, Just because I was wrong then.

At that point, I thought this morning, I will be able to say Well– you were still wrong.

Class starts on Monday, and that knowledge, going into the next three years, is powerful.

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