Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New Years Resolution #1 - Stop Looking For Love

I know I don't really write in here ever, if at all. One of my great sources of frustration with myself is that I am terrible at completing projects. I will begin something with good intentions, but inevitably I get distracted with school work and other obligations. Anyway I thought I would update you all on law school stuff since some of you have been sending me emails inquiring how it was going.

I would say overall last semester was definitely better than all of 1L year. I got to pick out my classes and I was interested in most of them. I also adopted a dog and my sister came to live with me for a couple of months, so it was fun to have people around at home. My parents bought a new house in Holland, MI in October, and its been really nice having them close enough to visit on the weekends. In fact, I am going back over there this weekend to pick up my dog, Pumpkin, and to visit since I have a 4 day weekend this week.

Last semester I finally felt like I was ready to start dating again, but it was definitely not what I had expected. On the plus side, I went out on dates with about 12 different guys, so I definitely learned what to do and what not to do on first dates. I think this is probably useful to know generally in just talking with new people, and I definitely feel more comfortable doing that now. What I hadn't expected was how much I let my feelings and emotions be affected when someone I was dating didn't work out. There were some guys that I genuinely felt like I had a great connection with, and then they would decide not to call me back. There was one I was interested in but his over-interest ended up pushing me away, because I felt that he was looking for ideal or for the person he thought I was, and not really seeing me for me. Then there was a guy who I dated for about a month and a conversation break down over text messaging (I texted but he never got it, I assumed he ignored me and he assumed I did not return feelings for him) ended things rather abruptly.

The positive to all of this is I am quickly learning what NOT to do. I also realized that part of my frustration was due to the fact that I was LOOKING for someone. When my sister came to live with me she put a sign on my fridge, that had a bunch of little mantras on it. One of the quotes really stuck out to me though:
If you are looking for love, STOP. It will find you once you start doing the things that you love.
Anyway, I am trying to live by that mantra this semester, and to try to do more of the things I never seem to have time for because I am always going out with friends to different social events / bars in the attempt to meet someone, and then getting frustrated when it doesn't work out. For example, this evening some friends asked me out for Bluegrass night, and normally I would love to go (I actually seemed to have started a tradition here at Michigan Law, and now Wednesday nights are Bluegrass nights). However, I have acapella group from 8-10, and I am trying to go to bed early so I have time to do yoga / running in the mornings, which is something that always makes me feel less stressed and anxious but I never seem to have time to do.

It's been really hard even over the past couple of weeks to do this, as most of the time in law school I feel really lonely. This isn't just because I am single (I've mostly come to terms with this, and actually appreciate the time its given me to create better relationships with my friends & family) but because it seems like many of my friends are moving away. My sister got a new job in Grand Rapids, and so now I no longer have a roommate to hang out with, go out to dinner with, or just sit around and cook dinner and catch up on our favorite tv shows. My friend Nona just moved to Arizona with her boyfriend, and even though we didn't hang out as much this past semester she was one of the few people I could rely on to always be there if I called and needed a friend. My other good friend Mike is taking 18 credit hours this semester and will be graduating in May. All in all, I am starting to realize that many of the relationships that I have spent years building and nurturing are changing as people move away to find work or as they graduate school. It's made me realize more how little time and effort I put into my friendships here at school.

I guess today more than ever I felt very lonely. I went to go eat in the Commons (a student lounge with a cafe) before it got crowded but I must not have gotten there early enough because about 15 minutes into eating my salad I was sorrounded by a bunch of other students. They were all friends and talking, and I felt entirely invisible. I really wanted to try and strike up conversation, but it's intimidating when there's 7 people who all know each other well, and then you, the stranger. In any case, it's left me feeling out of sorts and feeling a little down, but I know I'll probably be feeling fine again tomorrow. Maybe my next resolution should be to try to make new friends =)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Your Decisions Mean You're the One Responsible.

"No one takes my life from me. I give my life of my own free will. I have the authority to give my life, and I have the authority to take my life back again." - John 10:18.

Today was a very odd day. I went to bed last night in a weird mood (read: drunk) with the feeling that I hated this town and I shouldn't have stayed here for law school. As I walked back from the bar I was having an angry inner dialogue with myself, of how I let everyone else convince me into attending law school, that I never wanted to do this and I just did it to make everyone else proud of me. So as I drifted of to sleep I told myself that in the morning I was leaving this town and I wasn't going to come back (at least not until I figured out what my next move would be.)

I woke up this morning in a rush, because I had to do a practice negotiation for my Legal Practice class, but the last thing I wanted to do was have a fake negotiation with my group members when I was already fighting an internal battle with myself of whether or not I even wanted to continue on in law school. But I sucked it up and made it through. Afterwards I stopped by the Dean's office to talk to someone about my options but everyone was gone because it is Preview weekend which means all the prospective students are in town to tour the law school. So instead I went to the University counseling office just because I felt like I needed to tell someone I was planning on leaving school. I guess I thought they would somehow stop me. Instead the counselor (Joy!) listened to me blubber on and on about how I hated law school and I was only here because everyone else told me how great it was I got in and I didn't want to disappoint all of them. Then she looked at me and said:

"You have the control to make the decisions that make you happy, and no one else can make those for you. It sounds like you are afraid to make your own decisions because you are worried that everyone will be upset with you. But you need to focus on making the choices that make you happy, and if law school's not it then don't feel like you have to keep doing it for everyone else."

After I left her office I went home and decided to pack up my car and head home to Tennessee. I knew I wanted to go far away from Ann Arbor, but I wanted to go somewhere I could be alone and my house is currently sitting empty while my Dad is here visiting my mom. I decided that just in case I would bring a couple of casebooks and maybe think about outlining while I was home if I changed my mind. I then grabbed my phone and a charger and started driving.

Driving is a really good time to think, and I definitely had a lot to think about. My whole life I've felt like I was pushed into making certain decisions, because I was worried what everyone else would think if I didn't do it. I've convinced myself all this time that I could be happy if only everyone else would let me make my own choices and do the things I wanted to do. I started feeling really angry with everyone in my life, and I became more resolved in my decision to leave law school.

Its weird though, once I made that decision I felt the full responsibility of the consequences that would come with it. I knew it would mean finding a new job, figuring out who would take over my lease, canceling my financial aid requests for the next year, and answering a whole lot of questions. But I also realized something else -- in every other point in my life I HAD made all of my own choices. My choice to go to U-M over University of Tennessee, my choice to go to law school -- these were all MY choices. No one MADE me do it, it was just much easier for me to accept them by pushing off all the consequences and responsibilities of those decisions on to someone else and blaming them for my own unhappiness.

At this moment I decided to stop at a gas station in the middle of Ohio. I had been on the road for a little over 2 hours at this point and I was exhausted and hungover. I went in to use the bathroom and grab something to drink and I realized I had to decide whether or not I was going to keep running away from the consequences of my decision to go to law school and blame everyone else, or finally admit that I made this choice knowing full well that the first year would be the worst and face the fact that I still had a hell-storm of finals to return to once I got back.

I went back out to my car and sat there for a few minutes weighing this idea in my head. Going back meant I would have to face all of my internal demons - the ones saying I was incompetent and bound to fail. When it wasn't my choice, I knew I could blame any failures on other people - I could point and say "well you made me do it, I knew I wasn't cut out for it!" But if I went back, I became accountable to myself. If I failed, it was my fault.

Many people have a fear of public speaking, or heights, or spiders. Mine is failing. I've worked so hard my whole life to seem put together, smart, driven, and ambitious. But I am always terrified that at any moment I will fail and everyone will see I am a faker. That I'm not that great, wonderful, smart, or talented. That they had overestimated my ability. It was then I realized that I had to finally face this Failure demon that I had let control my life. I had to prove to myself that I can do this, and that even if I can't I am no less of a person for failing. So I buckled up and turned around and came back to Ann Arbor.

It's my decision now. And even though when I called my sister to tell her I wimped out on my plans of driving to Tennessee and she laughed at me and said "oo girl you failed!" I had to smile. Because I knew the truth. I finally won.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Unbearably Average

Got my grades back for another class and the results are in:

I am an unbearably average 1L.

On the positive side, I have a life!


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Legally Liza

My friend A.M. was in town this weekend and found it amusing to refer to me as "Legally Liza" every time he had the opportunity. The truth is, I've completed only half a semester of law school and I still feel like maybe I am here illegally. Pretty soon ICE is going to come and deport me back to undergrad.

Being in law school is like returning to high school. We have lockers. We have class together with the same group of people. I've had to return to using my backpack, because I am no longer just carrying around paperback versions of the Iliad or Uncle Tom's Cabin but 1,000+ page casebooks, notebooks, supplements, and 20 highlighters of varying colors. On any given day, it probably weighs close to 50 pounds. I have a lunchbox. And because we are around each other all day every day, there is gossip. Lots of it.

Don't get me wrong, most of the time I LOVE Law school. I like reading the opinions, figuring out the rules of law that apply, and trying to guess the ending before I get there. I like how after I finish underlining all the relevant things in the case in my color-coded strategy that it looks like a rainbow of information. I like how my professors make jibes at us if we are unprepared, and continue to find ways to make us laugh at ourselves and the material. I think that without this humor (and the fear that I will get called on and ridiculed), I would fall asleep in every class.

And that's probably what I was most unprepared for. I spend roughly 15 hours a day in class or reading. I typically go to bed at 1:30 or 2, and wake up at 7:00. Thursday and Friday get a little better, but for the most part its grueling schedule. Before I was to lazy to make a pot of coffee, but now it's the first thing I do every morning. Yesterday I bought 3 12-packs of diet coke so that I have some variety in my caffeine intake. The other thing I was unprepared for was the extreme loneliness that haunts you every day. Studying law is not really best done in groups. Its done alone, in your cubicle, surrounded by books. Luckily I have great classmates that plan some social events to break up this monotony, but usually I am alone. For an extremely sociable person like me, it's my equivalent of hell.

The other life-saving thing about law school is my acapella group, Headnotes. Its the one thing I look forward to, and we rehearse twice a week. For some reason, belting out high notes and hearing all of our voices come together in perfect harmony is a better stress-reliever than yoga. We have a few performances coming up next month and I am really excited to finally be performing again in front of people.

Although I occasionally feel upset about things, I try to remember that every transition takes time. Maybe soon I will begin to feel like I am part of this institution; but for right now I still feel like a stranger in a strange land...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Messy Spirituality

I am so glad to be done with this semester. Not only does it mean I only have on more semester to go before finally finishing my undergraduate degree, but it also means a fresh start. I began this school year following a break-up of a semi-long term relationship (not my longest but still enough to actually be hurt enough when it ended) and in a huge mess spiritually, which is rather ironic considering I spent the majority of my summer attending a church retreat program. I guess after breaking up with A., we had a few conversations which were hurtful but revealing to who I am as a person. His main complaint with me was that I never opened up, never trusted him in our relationship. Now that I've had some time to reflect on that I realize that he was right in many ways, but that I did have good reasons for not opening up to him completely.

Anyways, that is in the past and not really important. After Leadership Training ended, I went home for a few weeks, hurting and angry with God. I had prayed for a long time that God would send a spiritually fulfilling relationship where we could both grow together, and before I started dating A. I feel like I prayed about it A TON and God gave the green light. So I was wondering why God had given me this relationship that was just overall not beneficial to either of us. Although I was angry with God, I still turned to him for comfort and waited to feel his presence, but I never did. Maybe I wasn't hearing him because he wasn't saying what I wanted, maybe I was pretending to be open and vulnerable but I was really being selfish, wanting to hurt on my own instead of really offering myself up and letting go of my anger. I don't really know...

After about a month of waiting and feeling neglected I returned to school and felt more bombarded spiritually then ever before. I felt that after finishing LT everyone expected me to take up leadership roles in the church, but I didn't feel like I was in a good place to be leading or directing anyone. I wasn't even sure if God was there anymore. I tried desperately to be ok with seeing A. everywhere and even tried to hang out with him and be "friends". All of that changed though when my grandfather passed away in October. He tried to be supportive but it just made me want him to be there for me in ways he couldn't be anymore, and so I told him I needed my space for awhile.

I remember the night my grandpa died sitting in bed with my grandmother, reading her Psalms and wanting to believe in all the promises of comfort and redemption but wondering to myself what the words really meant and if I could trust them. I remember sitting in the funeral home while people came up and said, "Don't worry, he's in a better place now" and not knowing if that was true. I knew he was a believer, but I couldn't even believe a place like heaven existed, and even if it did if I wanted my grandfather to be with a callous, unresponsive God like the one I was experiencing. I remember standing in the prayer annex off the church while his ashes sat in the sanctuary, the pastor praying that God would give our family comfort, the words sounding hollow in my ears.

After that I just cut myself off spiritually. I was angry, I felt alone, and when I talked to some people about it they told me I was being childish and selfish, which just made me more angry. So I quit going to church, small group, everything that reminded me of A., my grandfather, the pain, and mostly the rejection I was feeling from God. I convinced myself God is what people turn to when they can't rely on themselves, and from now on I was going to rely on myself and if I failed then that was that. No need praying to an invisible deity who may or may not be there.

I was getting really good at ignoring my emotions. Occasionally though they would come out, while having dinner with my friend Jack or talking with some of the women who were on staff with New Life. But I would remind myself later that there was no point being a baby about it. I was on my own now, and I couldn't waste time feeling sorry for myself.

Thursday night I went to church for the first time since my grandfather's funeral. It was the same church we had the funeral service at, and so it was already hard for me to be there. I felt the emotions coming so I just shut down. I closed my eyes and started to breathe and I regained composure. We sang some Christmas songs and then the Deacon started to deliver the message. I zoned out and started to look around the old church. I've always been mesmerized by the ceiling, because it's a weird square-ish shaped building but the cross-beams are uneven so it looks like a cross. I remember going to this church as a kid and spending the whole time looking at the ceiling, counting the wooden panels and trying to figure out why the room was shaped so oddly. I've had many life-changing experiences in this church, many I remember and many I don't. I was here when my parents were married (I wasn't yet born though..) and for my baptism (and my sister's, and my brother's.) It was in the fellowship room that we had a 70th birthday party for my grandfather. I was here the previous summer when my parents renewed their vows after a 9 month separation. So many memories tied to this church, it seemed inevitable that I would keep returning here again and again.

I stopped staring at the ceiling and closed my eyes again, out of tiredness but also because my mind was working too fast for me to keep up. I kept replaying this semester in my head, trying to figure out how I had become the girl who was sitting here now, emotionally detached and angry with God and my life. It would take to long to write out everything I was attempting to process but essentially I realized this:

My inability to trust the people in my life has prevented me from trusting God. Not just because I don't believe he will do what is right, but also because I am afraid he will disappoint me, because I have felt disappointed by him. Yet my perspective on life is so short-sighted, that I can not know if these disappointments are really blessing in disguise. Or if I can even be sure in what it is that I want, because I am even changing my own mind every second of every day.

I'm not saying I've figured out how to trust God. I don't know if any of us really ever do. But at least I'm one step closer to figuring it all out, or at least inasmuch as the human mind can ever attempt to understand God and the purpose of our lives.

Monday, October 26, 2009

My life as a Supermassive Black Hole.

Midterms are almost over, and I have resolved that for the rest of the semester I am going to stay on top of my reading assignments so I don't end up reading them all the night before my exam. I'm almost positive I failed my midterm for my 100 level class, which will be difficult to explain to law school admission programs...

My last Letter of Recommendation should be coming in this Friday and then I can start sending out applications. So far I have received application fee waivers from everywhere but Yale, but I wasn't really expecting one from them. Heck, I really doubt I will even get in but my mother insisted that I should apply and so I will.

I'm really not sure if I want to go to law school or not yet, and I worry that sending in all of my applications will make it that much harder to say no if they offer me a great admissions package. But I can't reconcile this part of me that has always wanted to become a writer. My favorite class at U-M was my creative writing workshop, and ever since I was a young girl I would write short stories and poems in my free time. A part of me wants to be a powerful attorney and crack down on sex-trafficking and unfair labor practices, but another part of me knows I will regret not pursuing writing.

I guess for now I've just decided to turn in all of my applications and see what happens, and start hardcore praying for guidance on what to do about all of this. I'm also thinking about doing NaNoWriMo to see how I fare with writing an entire novel in one month. I'm a little worried because I am already struggling to keep up with classes this semester, but I guess my senioritis is preventing me from caring too much. Also, it's possible I could submit a part of the novel in to the creative writing department to see if I could get into the upper-level workshop next semester.

For now though, I'm trying not to let schoolwork/RA stuff / applications / life decisions suck me in to a supermassive black hole...

Thursday, October 22, 2009


She played it hard and yes she played it rough
Made her feel safe and it made her feel tough
And rock by rock she built those walls everyday
Built herself a tower so far away
And from up high in that castle
She knew no one could get too close to touch
And if life and death were such a game
Why did they all make such a fuss?
And if birds could fly high over their troubles
She gonna find some of her own wings and fly
And no one could convince or pay her double
Or tell her she was too young to die

Oh Caroline, Caroline