When You Need an Adult But You Are an Adult

Hafsa, 20

“So I’m basically always the youngest person in the room. I was the youngest kid in my Kindergarten class, and then I skipped a grade, and then I finished undergrad in 3 years—so then I was really the youngest. In fact, when I started law school, I couldn’t even go to some of the networking events at bars in the area because I wasn’t old enough to get in the door. Mostly, it’s absolutely hilarious. But every once in a while, it just feels profoundly isolating. 

“I came to law school right after graduating college. Becoming an attorney is my dad’s dream for me, and I have every intention of fulfilling it as soon as I can. But that also means I’ve never really taken time off to just—exist; I went straight through the turmoil of grade school, and then rushed through college, and then jumped right into the law without ever catching my breath. For the most, I’m okay with that because steam-rolling through life suits me; but I do wonder sometimes what it would have been like if I had taken more time to—and forgive me if this sounds trite—explore and to develop my sense of self. At the very least I could have gone to all the networking events.” 

Getting back into the “swing” of things… I just kept telling myself “go big or go home.” I didn’t move halfway across the country to settle for mediocre. I wanted this, and now I’m going to fight for it. I’ll admit to sacrificing my personal life for law school, but if I had to do it again, I would because I like where I’m at now. 
Greatest challenges in law school… At 20 years old—when most people are just settling into their first, maybe second year of college—I moved halfway across the country entirely by myself to a place where I didn’t know anyone or anything to try to be a grown up with a real job. All the changes that happened so quickly in that move were unbearably overwhelming the first few months of law school. Every day was consumed with doubts as I second-guessed if I really had it in me to do this. But I survived; although, honestly, I’m still not sure how. 
Greatest resources… Classmates. If I had just talked to more people earlier, I would have realized that a lot of the struggles I faced were common. There are obviously certain facets of the law school journey unique to each person, but once I realized that law students are a community, I felt so much more comfortable in my skin. 
Law school and your personal life… Honestly, my whole life revolves around law school, so I am definitely not the person to ask about any semblance of a work-life balance. It’s a sacrifice I’ve chosen to make, but it’s not for everyone. 
Your Story/Advice… You belong here. That’s what I keep telling myself, and what I hope every other law student—first gen or not—learns to believe. The world needs people like you as an attorney, and you have every right and every entitlement to pursue your dreams in the law as far as you wish. You belong here. 

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