calm down, chicken little.

Everybody knows the story of Chicken Little. She goes around yelling that the sky is falling, gathers other people who believe her hearsay, and generally causes a ruckus. In actuality, an acorn fell on her head.

Chicken Little probably had a lot of issues and should have done some yoga or found a new shrink.

That aside, there’s something to be said for our frantic poultry friend. If you’ve spent any semblance of time on the internet over the past 3 years, you’ve undoubtedly encountered list-based articles or videos on websites such as Buzzfeed, Upworthy, and (to my marked dismay) Thought Catalog. Many of these “listicles” boast titles that are drenched in utter hyperbole, ranging from topics such as “15 best makeup tips” to “25 of the absolute greatest ways literally FREAKING EVER to spread peanut butter on toast.” Don’t get me wrong, they’re certainly entertaining, but sometimes the articles tend to take on a more bombastic and excessive tone.

If you find yourself taking it personally that you haven’t experienced “seven of the most epic ways that pizza has saved the world,” it might be time to pump the brakes.

Maintaining some semblance of rationality and perspective is often surprisingly difficult, and the feeling of minor life stressors encroaching upon your day-to-day existence can feel amplified if you lose sight of the bigger picture. When you have a lot going on, sometimes the added pressure of an unexpected small task – call it an acorn, if you will – can seem like an insurmountable obstacle. It’s easy to lose sight of the greater perspective, and the incessant bombardment of hyperbole on social media only increases the closed-universe feeling. Similar to how needlessly excessive some articles on Buzzfeed appear to be, our stress and difficulties lend themselves to unwarranted overstatement.

There’s a fine line between witty exaggeration and excessive use of hyperbole. While the first instance can be entertaining, the second instance creates a situation where everything is inflated – we’re placing too much credence in an acorn as a harbinger of imminent doom.

What we need to remember, though, is that the sky isn’t always falling.

Some things are truly worth creating a fuss about, but generally, you won’t be doing yourself any favors by amplifying the severity of a simple situation.  Take a step back and realize that everything is temporary.  Just like Chicken Little eventually realized she had gone a little too far by forecasting the end of days, sometimes you just need to pause for a moment and re-evaluate your situation.

Or, if that doesn’t work, you can always just waste some time on the internet instead.

febru-recap (& more BAD HAIKUS!)

CAPTAIN’S LOG:

Day 191 in the tundra. Still snowing.  Sunlight hasn’t broken through overcast skies for two weeks. Three crew members went for provisions last Wednesday – haven’t been seen since. Dark times on the base. Morale is low among the troops.

JUST KIDDING, IT’S ONLY MIDTERMS WEEK.

February was a ridiculous month – we had a memo due this past weekend, there was a mad dash to submit applications for externships and clinics, and if you add in preliminary interviews and just the increased difficulty of the semester in general, it’s clear that it was a crazy month. It goes without saying that everyone is trying to pull through this week and make it to spring break. Personally, I’ve never looked forward to the 5-hour drive home more than I do now.

However, for all of its insanity, there were certainly a few excellent and/or interesting things about February. Here is another installment of bad haikus to summarize:

LCR memo:

A cruel, wretched mistress.

Let me nap now, please.

***

TODAY IS SO GREAT!

HELLO, NEWHOUSE GRAD PROGRAM!

HELLO, DREAM DEGREE!

***

Ungraded midterm;

Your purpose is unclear. Yet -

(cue panic attack)

***

Why, Polar Vortex,

must you make us all suffer?

My nose hairs froze today.

***

Forgot to move clothes

out of the dryer. My life?

Wrinkled (like my pants).

***

ORANGE.

One of the fundamental lessons in dating that I never learned is that you should avoid comparing ex-boyfriends to one another. That probably explains why I’m bringing seventeen cats and a box of Franzia as my dates to the law school formal on Saturday, but it’s also applicable to most major life events that contain some element of similarity. Your first car will always have fond memories attached to it, but your second car is the one you take the cross-country road trip with. Your first day of summer camp is always exciting and nerve-wracking, but the first day the following year is thrilling, albeit much more comfortable. The first university you attended gave you four of the best years of your life, but the place where you go to grad school is where you learn to put on your big girl pants – and actually embrace the school spirit that surrounds the sporting events.

Yes, that’s right. I liked sports this weekend.

I DID THE THING WHERE I WATCHED THE SPORTS.

Specifically, I enjoyed the hell out of the Syracuse/Duke game, which served as my primary motivation for accomplishing anything of minor consequence this weekend. And I’m not going to lie – I started the day initially very excited just to have an excuse to spend an inordinate of time at the bar with my friends, shamelessly eating cheese fries and cheers-ing to terminology that I do not comprehend. But something happened about an hour into the game, and I started to actually pay attention. I stood on the benches on the perimeter of the bar so I could watch the TV and see what was happening. I cheered at the right parts. I was disappointed at the proper moments. And when they made the winning shot in overtime, it was elation.

The way that the entire Syracuse community came together that night was incredible. Although Delaware certainly had school spirit, it was generally the spirit of Delaware itself that we rallied around. With this, it was different – it was over 35,000 fans flooding the streets of the city for the sole purpose of unbridled jubilance. It was an onslaught of people, more numerous than the town I grew up in, chanting fight songs in unison as they flooded out of the stadium in an orange torrent. It was hugs and high-fives and the glory of coming together as a team, even though our only contribution was staring at a screen with bated breath as our hands tightened around plastic cups of warm beer in a death grip.

While by no means am I going to run out and purchase season tickets next year (I still yelled “Do the thing! Win the points!” a few too many times to take myself seriously), I have a newfound appreciation for the mentality surrounding college athletics here. If it only took me a semester to warm up to ‘Cuse, I’m excited to see where this whole liking-sports-thing takes me over the next two years.

I think it’s time to invest in some orange nail polish.

Friday Morning Toast & Jams

It’s been a while since I’ve written here about things that pertain to life outside of law school, and it’s a darned shame – there’s a lot more to life than what simply happens between the pages of a textbook. Because it’s a new year and people are doing the whole “resolutions” thing, I figured it’d be worth it to make a concerted effort this coming year to write more than just an essay on law school once a month. When I first started blogging, I’d have a weekly post on Friday mornings where I recap the week with a toast and some jams – basically, a small victory and some music to rock out to. I’m going to try to post these on the last Friday of each month from this point forward.

It’s your job, darling internet humans, to hold me accountable for this. Got it? Awesome.

THE TOAST:

Go home 2013, you’re drunk. Here’s to the new year, everyone!

THE JAMS:

I haven’t been musically relevant since 2010. I need help. Please.

In the meantime, here’s what I’ve been listening to:

Parov Stelar – Booty Swing | If you need to clean your kitchen, you might as well be swing dancing.

Royal Teeth – Heartbeats | They do an amazing cover of this song, it’s wonderful.

Sleeper Agent – Get Burned | They’re plenty of fun.

Enjoy!

Lessons from 1/6th of Law School

It’s a few days after the fact, but I’ve finally (OH MY GOD, FINALLY) completed my first semester of law school. Whether or not the feat was achieved with any semblance of success will be determined once my grades are made available in the next few weeks, but if nothing else, I’ve learned quite a bit from the whole experience.

You kids haven’t had a list in a while, so here’s the TOP TEN THINGS I’VE LEARNED FROM MY FIRST SEMESTER OF LAW SCHOOL:

1.  Everyone you meet functions differently, and that’s totally okay.

Within the first two weeks of classes, there was a group of students that had established themselves as the cutthroat study group. They outlined twice a week, assigned their own hypotheticals as extra homework, and weren’t afraid to call you out and kick you out of their academic posse if you didn’t pull your weight.

I was, obviously, not a part of this group.

My best friend and I spent one of our reading days finishing our outlines at a bar.

You are your own best advocate, and you know what is going to enable you function optimally. This applies to not only studying, but to the real world as well. Just because someone else has a photographic memory doesn’t mean you’re expected to have the same type of Cam Jansen-style mental ability for studying, and just because someone else is picking a different option than you doesn’t mean that your choice is wrong. There’s only so many people who can climb the same tree, but when you’re in a forest of opportunity, it doesn’t matter. Find your own tree, and climb the hell out of it.

2. Stress burns calories

I’ve lost an inch off my waist and five years off my life. Given that my diet consists mostly of scones, I don’t think this is a good thing.

3. Remember who you were before you came here

Law school is a crazy effin’ place. Everyone is stressed. Everything is gossip. There is really horrible pizza served at every club meeting that will make you want to cry and wish you brought your lunch that day. It’s important that you don’t lose sight of your hobbies, passions, and personality that took precedence in your life before law school. At the end of the day, you’re still a human being, and not just some little law robot. Your inner monologue can’t consist of “beep bop boop torts torts torts,” or everyone will probably hate you.

4. There will be unintended consequences of cold-calling

My mom told me that I’ve kind of become a bitch since I went to law school, but in a good way. This is honestly the best way to describe what the law school cold-calling process does to you – it toughens you up, it makes your wit sharper and gives your tongue permission to show the bit of a razor’s edge that’s been hidden until now. So much of your in-class activity is predicated on being prepared to speak eloquently and meaningfully at a moment’s notice, and having a fast answer both in and out of the classroom is one of the changes that the law school process will do to you.

On a side note, you also won’t be able to watch Law and Order without being a brat. Everything they do is so, so wrong, and you’ll just be unpleasant to watch it with. Avoid such situations at all costs.

5. Stress is relative

There are times when I have 150 pages of reading due in two days and I am okay. There are times when I have 50 pages of reading due after the weekend and I want to burn down the entire campus. Stress can hit at a moment’s notice, and sometimes what irks you one day will be what you take solace in the next. Just breathe, realize it’s temporary, call your mom/best friend/therapist at 11pm while sobbing, and get it done. You can reward yourself for finishing it like a champion on Friday.

6. Your past is irrelevant.

On the first day of orientation, they told us that nothing we did in our past mattered anymore. I laughed, thinking, “Yeah right, I was the honor-roll sorority-girl QUEEN OF THE UNIVERSE!!! I AM UNSTOPPABLE AND CAN HANDLE ANYTHING!!!

Yeah, that wasn’t true. It doesn’t matter if you were Phi Beta Kappa or Kappa Kappa Gamma or corporate America or a construction worker or anything, really – everyone is in the same boat, and nobody has any idea what they’re in for. On that note…

7. Be humble.

Be honest, be sympathetic, express humility. You are a first-year law student, and you are not better than anyone else in your class. There are 200 other people who are just as unsure and unstable as you, and you’re not doing yourself any favors by walking around with a holier-than-thou attitude. Your classmates will be your references and co-counsel in three short years, and being a good person and an honest, hard-working lawyer will garner a better recommendation than being a straight-A student with an obnoxious disposition.

8. Your support network is the most important asset you have.

Most people from your life outside of law school will be sympathetic to your academic plight. Do not be afraid to reach out to them – they’re going to want to help you and make sure that you’re okay. Law school is an all-encompassing experience, and turning to those outside of the law bubble is sometimes just what you need. However, your law school friends are going to be some of the best people you know. Take your time, and make sure that the people you choose to surround yourself with are the right ones for you. It takes a while to find people with whom you can have complex discussions on tort reform, and then two days later stumble home from the bar with. You’re going to love the crap out of these friends.

9. Be kind to yourself

You’re going through hell. Forgive yourself for your mistakes. Be nice to yourself. Treat yourself. Realize when what you’re doing is only giving you diminishing returns, and change your approach. Eat well, sleep well, take breaks when you need them. Surround yourself with inspiring and encouraging people. Your mental faculties are your greatest asset, and you don’t have enough time for toxic behaviors or toxic relationships in your life.

10. You are capable of so much more than you realize

There will be times where you want to throw your textbook across the room, pack up your things, and quit. I know I certainly did. Impostor syndrome is a real issue for a lot of people, but you’ll never know what you can do until you persevere and finish out the semester. Finishing  the first semester – no, SURVIVING the first semester – is one of the toughest parts of law school. After you walk out of that last final, though, you know you’ve done something that very, very few people have actually done. You’re 1/6th of the way to being a lawyer, and if you can handle civil procedure, you feel like an invincible human.

I like the way you work it (your jury verdict, that is).

It’s a weird day when you wake up in the morning with “No Diggity” stuck in your head and the only thing you’re sure of in life is that Civil Procedure will probably be the death of you.

Helloooo, last Tuesday!

While I struggled with trying to memorize Dr. Dre’s opening verse to the song (still can’t do it, I’m a failure and ashamed of myself), I also grappled with what we’ve studied so far in Civ Pro. When you’re in law school, it’s easy to forget that all of the rules, cases, and procedure you’re learning come to fruition in an argument that could potentially end up in the hands of a jury. In that type of situation, it’s not only the strength of your case that determines the outcome of your client – there are a multitude of factors that influence a jury, and sometimes cases are decided against the blatant weight of evidence in support of one of the parties.

You can try as hard as you can to push your case and make your point, but at the end of the day, most of the decision boils down to the opinions of twelve strangers who have to take everything you say at face value. While you do your best to create an argument that they can’t contradict, they’re still going to make their own decision. Although you have the opportunity to point the jury in your direction, you can’t gain absolute control over the opinions of other people. That’s not the way society functions.

The same can be said about interactions outside of the courtroom, particularly in real-world social situations. Being almost twelve weeks into law school, it’s easy to get caught up in the closed-off, high-stress environment. Essentially, it’s like high school…but with significantly less acne and punk music, and much more reading (and whiskey). I had dinner with a good friend last night, and she said something so plainly brilliant about law school life: it’s silly to try to please everyone all the time. There’s very little to be gained from simply trying to make everyone happy, because at the end of the day, everyone is entitled to their own opinions – even if they’re about you. You can’t ensure that all 196 of your classmates are going to be content, and more than that, it’s not your obligation to do so. You’re going to run yourself dry if you try to fix everybody.

Regardless of everything you’ve brought to the table, sometimes you aren’t going to click with a few people. And that’s more than okay; that’s the way that social interactions play out. Your social A-game might help you charm 75% of the party, and it’s futile to wonder what hasn’t worked. Sometimes others, for whatever reason, aren’t going to mesh with you, and it’s important to realize that you’re not expected to try to change that. What matters is that you’ve been your own best, you’ve tried your hardest, and you’re happy with what you’ve laid out to be seen and judged upon.  

Sometimes people, like a jury, behave in bizarre and unexpected ways.  You don’t know which direction the pendulum is going to swing until the verdict is announced. You’ve put your case out there, and the jury has spoken.The best you can do is leave them thinking that you’re in the right, that you’ve done the best that you can, and that there can’t be any doubt – no diggity, if you will – that you’ve laid a good argument on the table.

(Yo Dre, drop the verse.)

#nofilter, or the time I extrapolated too much meaning from Instagram

In my far-flung youthful days of yore (i.e. six months ago) as a sorority girl,  there were several clichés that I happily upheld:

  • I didn’t just love froyo, I had an obsession with it that bordered on clinical dependency.
  • Clever theme parties were heralded as the “best thing ever” and had a pretty high probability of being the highlight of the month.
  • No matter what, Instagram was always happening.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of instagramming some supremely stupid things. Is any of this necessary? Absolutely not. But we slap a label of “artistic license” on the image and go about our daily lives, taking every little “like” as social approval of what we’re doing and how we go about it.

There isn’t anything wrong with that, though – it’s the basis of our LOOK AT ME!!! culture today, and just about everyone participates. But what I’ve been thinking about lately is how silly it is to make things so artificial and so stylized, simply to fall into what is purportedly going to be accepted by those with whom we surround ourselves.

It wasn’t uncommon in college to pine over filters to make our pictures look more exciting. Now, after the fact, I wish that I had stuck with the regular photo. There’s never been a circumstance where I thought, “Oh man, you know what this picture needs? A lo-fi filter and some depth-of-field blur. That’s totally what would make it perfect.”

Normally, the feeling is more along the lines of, “I am so incredibly lucky to have all these people in my life. It’s a pity we all look freakin’ orange, though.”

The filters we place on our Instagram photos are analogous to “filters” we sometimes use in everyday life, and that’s no way to go about living. You can make yourself crazy trying to fit into an archetype that not only isn’t attainable, but isn’t grounded in your own personal reality. For me, the filter of choice was that of being a “law student,” as it’s incredibly easy to begin the year with the mentality of “I must behave in XYZ way in order to be successful.”

My moment of revelation was waking up with my face literally plastered to the pages of Hamer v. Sidway. Although it’s a compelling case in contract law, it’s not compelling enough to try to absorb via osmosis while falling asleep at your desk. Even more, that sort of desk-napping life has never been who I am and it’s certainly not how I function optimally. It turns out I’d been so fixated on trying to “be a law student” that I’d forgotten why I wanted to go to law school: to be the nerdy, over-enthusiastic girl who is more inclined to accidentally have lipstick on her teeth than the pages of her blue book imprinted on her forehead.

At that moment, I dropped my filter. There wouldn’t be any more of that nonsense around here, thankyouverymuch.

When starting any new chapter of your life, you go in with preconceptions of the experience and how you’d like it to play out. There comes a point, though, that you need to realize when you’re simply selecting an artistic haze with which to portray your life. There’s only so much that your trusty pals “x-pro ii” and “earlybird” can do for the image you’re posting – the rest is up to you. Not everything can be sepia-toned and loved by all the world, and realizing when you should go #nofilter and be honest is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

That’s something that no click of a “like” button is ever going to give you.