It takes 21 days to make or break a habit.
I would barely call “the life I used to have” a habit that could be broken in 21 days, but then came my move across the world, away from everyone and everything I knew and loved. I had no choice other than to adjust my sails and float on.
Law school now is in full swing, and by “full swing” I mean I am swinging madly from reading to comprehension to application, but I love every crazy second of it. My no-longer-new apartment has been re-organized. I’ve rearranged the contents of my cabinets based on usage and functionality; I’ve cooked some real meals (versus the initial chicken and veggies no-frills “cooking”). I went out to the shops and stocked my fridge, freezer and pantry (how I dragged it all home is going to be one of those “humble beginning” anecdotes for when I’m actually a corporate lawyer at a top-tier firm). And, I’ve established a workout routine (thank goodness because my appetite is back–as evident by the empty package of Lamingtons on my desk).
Habit or not, 21 days later, I think I’m settled in and at the end of the day, I find myself doing what I do best—reflecting.
There’s always a period of adjustment when you begin a new phase of life.
My first year of university, I lived three hours away from home and I loved it. I loved what I was learning; it was a different way of learning. I loved the friends I made, the community I created around myself and I loved living on my own. I was 17 and it was my first time being away from family, but home wasn’t too far away (i.e., if I really needed, or wanted to go home for the weekend, I could).
In my second year, my program took place at a different institution and I was living only an hour away from home and I hated it. My landlady was a crazy woman who had little understanding of boundaries or no sense of social mannerisms. The program had gotten intense, I couldn’t grasp some of the material, but most of all, my heart wasn’t in it.
My Golden Rule: If your heart’s not in it, take yourself out of it.
And that’s exactly what I did.
Fast forward a few years to present day and I’m in law school in Australia. I can’t go home for the weekend. In fact, it would take the entire weekend to get home. The program is significantly more intense; I am struggling with some of the material, but I don’t want to go home. What’s the difference? My heart.
Regardless of how many people outside of me might have deceived it, broken it, disrespected it, labelled it and my favorite, underestimated it—internally, in my “heart of hearts,” I’ve been true to it.
I’ve been true to me.
After every lecture, every tutorial, ever seminar, even after a 17 page reading on tortious liability, my decision to pursue this particular path, is reaffirmed. This isn’t to say that it’s all fun and games. One of the students has already dropped out, another deferred until the next semester. Several students have voiced their concerns about the difficulty of the readings, the condensed semester system, the content, the comprehension of that content, etc. As mentioned, I share some of those struggles. Some of it goes right over my head and I read and re-read the same (introductory) paragraph several times trying to decipher the jargon before me that is law, but I love every second of it.
I don’t deny missing home. I miss my family and I miss my friends. I miss the familiarity of friendly faces and the warmth of hugs and joyful smiles. But I’m doing what I love here and I feel like the more I study, the sooner I’ll be done and the sooner I’ll be done, the sooner I get to go home to those friendly faces. The sooner I get to hug the people whose absence has been tugging at my heart each day we’ve been apart. My day planner has a running countdown: 84 sleeps ’til the first semester is over and 694 sleeps until it’s all over (give or take a few days depending on the dates of final exams). I will be a lawyer in 694 sleeps.
Doing the right thing isn’t always going to be easy. Chances are it’ll actually be the harder thing to do, but do it.
Do the right thing. Do the right thing for you. You might lose a few people along the way, but you’ll (eventually) realize their presence in your life was either a lesson or a blessing and you don’t have to live with them or their memories for the rest of your life; you have to live with yourself. So do what’s right by for you, otherwise you risk losing a lot more than a few people along the way; you risk losing yourself.
To thine own self be true; if your heart’s not in it, take yourself out of it.
Adapted from The Philotherapist.
Sheetal Deo recently started her Juris Doctors program in Australia to become a lawyer and is blogging about her adventures along the way. She is a writer (writen for elephantjournal before), blogger, philotherapist (using philosophy in therapy) and soon-to-be bad-ass corporate lawyer. She is passionate about learning and growing–personally and professionally; in mental, physical and spiritual health, and appreciates any avenue and opportunity to do so! Visit her page The Philotherapist or drop her a line at [email protected].
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Ed: Brianna Bemel
Assistant Ed: Wendy Keslick