I’m living inside the warhead of the biggest “bad news bomb” of my life, and I don’t know how best to drop it. The longer I wait, the more nuclear it feels. And it’s starting to look like it’s scheduled to detonate at my parents’ house on Christmas, turning a modest home in Reno into Hiroshima.
In about two weeks, I’ll walk into my childhood home, drop my bags, pet my dog and tell my parents that I failed the California bar exam.
See how dramatic I’ve become? In reality, lots of people are in my shoes right now. About 3,800 people—or 44% of takers—to be exact. (I use those numbers when I want to feel better about myself.) In reality, only 1,850—or 30%—of those who took it for the first time didn’t pass. Yeah, I use those figures when I’m being honest with myself.
I’m far from a haughty Ivy Leaguer with a pitch-perfect pedigree, but I certainly never thought of myself as a bar failure. Finding out the weekend before Thanksgiving was like the bottom falling out of a legal career that was already in a ditch. It was bad enough that I already had a pretty decent job offer rescinded, but failing the bar was a massive blow that I cannot rationalize or blame on economic factors. Regardless of tireless studying and massive preparation, I didn’t pull it off—and that’s a tough lump.
Accordingly, Thanksgiving was ruined. (Why the bar committee decided to post the results before a major holiday seems like a sick joke to me. But I guess I would be singing a different tune if my name had appeared on the pass list.) After four days of clicking through every letter of the alphabet hoping for a slight typographical error, I flew from Los Angeles to Nevada, walked into my childhood home, dropped my bags, pet my dog and didn’t tell my parents I failed the California bar exam. I just ate pie. And felt like an asshole.
In fact, I haven’t told anyone yet. And the fact that I haven’t is why I’m about to implode from the gut-wrenching stress, anger and anxiety that have been poisoning me for weeks. I’m abusing myself—and I deserve it.
Sure, everyone from law school already knows just by looking. But I’ve managed to crudely avoid all of them. And luckily not many have reached out to me. (I guess it takes a real d-bag gunner to call someone who you know didn’t pass to gloat about how you did.) But other than those fools, the people closest to me—my parents, my new girlfriend, my real friends, my bosses—are all still in the dark.
Every time my mom or dad calls, I either pretend to be really busy or lose service just as we start talking about my life. The mad-cool, crazy-hot girl I started dating last month has no idea the bar exam even exists (which is why I asked her out to begin with), but she’s sure to be unimpressed when she hears I’m not technically a lawyer. And while I don’t think the powers that be at the chintzy collections litigation firm I’ve been interning at the last couple months have ever considered my bar status, it hardly bodes well. But they’re the least of my concerns. As long as I keep drafting summons and complaints for chump change, passing the bar would hardly convince them to hire me.
This all probably sounds like a pathetic pity party, but this was definitely something I did not expect—and cannot afford. The thought of looking into my father’s eyes and telling him I fell short haunts me. And the anticipation of my mother making some snide remark about how I should have spent less time on the golf course this summer may cause me to bitch slap her before she even opens her mouth.
Ho, ho, ho—Christmas is going to suck this year.