Here’s something I didn’t expect: Everybody in law school is higher-strung than I am.
I don’t know if anyone’s noticed, but I am high-strung to a degree that defies analogy. Like– if you pulled a bow across my psyche, it would emit a note that only dogs can hear. I almost swallowed my tongue from terror the first time I got called on in Civil Procedure. I spent actual minutes lying awake that night, staring at the ceiling and reliving my inability to answer a simple question about the holding on appeal in Mas v. Perry. I avoided my classmates for an hour because I was sure they were all pitying me. I am high-strung. O God, am I high-strung.
…But I am not the person who raised her hand to ask the professor anxiously if the presence of an extra space between two lines in a power point slide was significant to the point being made. I am not the people asking questions relevant to chapters we haven’t touched yet, or the people unable to reply to a simple question with a simple answer. My classmate sighs in the elevator and tells me sadly that she only got ten pages of notes out of our five pages of reading, and she’s not sure she covered everything important; the guy next to me flips open his casebook and I see that every single line in the case brief is highlighted in a different color. I listen to a man go off for three straight minutes off a question whose answer was intended to be No, and I think, Jesus Christ! Calm down! There is nothing to worry about! That’s completely irrational!
My God! I think shortly thereafter. I’m a fucking hypocrite!
But, well– isn’t there something distantly good, in that? In the ability to see irrationality and overpreparation in other people? isn’t there something tangentially healthy about being able to look at a pattern of behavior that isn’t yours and go No, that won’t work? I think there might be. I think (knowing full well that I am an anxious and high-strung person, of the kind who almost talked herself out of going to law school, of the kind who hid from the professor behind a bookshelf after that awful class to avoid making her shame visible) that the ability to see what an irrational thought pattern looks like, divorced of the person it’s attached to, is something that I could use. That I should use.
So, I’m putting this down now, for future reference for myself: Hey! Me! I sometimes see the people around me, I listen to them, and I think, Jesus Christ! Calm down! There is nothing to worry about! That’s completely irrational! So I should probably do that to myself more often!
This semester, I resolve to turn that thought on myself more. I resolve to learn better the difference between a rational and an irrational terror. I resolve to try out that thought even on fears that don’t deserve it – I resolve to worry about something just the right amount, and to think to myself, Jesus Christ! Calm down! There is nothing to worry about!, and I resolve to think, in the moments when it is appropriate, Yes, actually, there is. I resolve to find fears out of which I can build strength, and to let go of the ones that turn me into less than I want to be. Or, well– to get better at doing that, anyway. To let go more. To fear less. Comparatively.
I’m going to find myself a way to remember to do this, too, I think. I want to see what this does for me this semester.