Inexplicably, after many years of higher education and a semi-successful career, law school sounded like a great idea. Please enjoy this column, dedicated to documenting the results of that “great” idea.
Monday night, the enthusiasm is palpable. The hoard is ready, they will mingle and network come hell or high water. I am torn: I hate networking and mingling, but I am stuck with these people for the next three years and all of the orientation speakers are stressing how much time we will all spend together. Damn it. I have to make nice. Teeth gritted, I smile and introduce myself to some people. And that’s when I notice the first oddity of my cohort…
They are so earnest. Holy shit, the earnest is killing me. Whatever you do, don’t make a joke. They will not get it. They will ask for clarification. I thought it was just me, but Professor Excellent Hair made many fantastic jokes in his first class. The response: crickets. It’s okay, Professor Excellent Hair—I got your jokes, they were good jokes, you killed it!
The earnestness is compounded by the underlying, barely visible, utter panic that roils through the hoard. A panic that was not abated by the constant exhortations of every single faculty member telling us not to panic and essentially drawing a warm bath of hand-holding tutorials, syllabus reviews, and reminders to be cooperative not competitive.
No, seriously, I received no less than four messages from different sources clarifying a small issue with room numbers. I hear you, telling me in your head about how easy it is to get lost and how that was necessary. No. This venerable institution is smaller than my high school. And I went to a small high school. I have had ties with 5 different higher ed institutions and I’ve never been so well-orientated. And yet, it seems that the bulk of the students have chosen to play the role of “Type A Law Student” and refuse to relinquish it in the face of new evidence.
And speaking of roles – so far we have met “Sorority Sister” who seems to find it necessary to explain how her wide network of “sisters” is already paying off. She immediately teamed up with “Dude Bro” who showed up in his ostentatiously political t-shirt. I’m surprised she didn’t actually push me out of the way she was so intent on pursuing their conversation. We also met “Slacker Dude” who lounges at the back of the classroom in shorts.
In some ways, you have to admire “Slacker Dude.” The aforementioned panic seems to be contagious. Despite a long history of college attendance, the roiling panic that infused my very cells in each class session was overwhelming. So, note to anyone else on the cusp of law school, the panic is unavoidable – roll with it, because it seems inescapable regardless of experience.
And so, we enter the first week of actual class sessions with stereotypes firmly established; barely controlled panic visible beneath the surface of helmet hair, creased Dockers, and kitten heels; and an earnestness that pains the recipients.
Want to continue the journey? The second installment is here.
Featured image courtesy of Catgirl
Originally published Aug. 2016