The Waiting Game (Lawyer Wannabe Anxiety)

I have been slow to write of late because the little guy has been down with strep throat.  I can deal with pressure from work at any given day, or even with the unexpected potholes in life, but when my guy is sick, everything is up in the air.

I had my week planned, and of course that went this way and that.  I’m good now because he is well and back to school.  The marathon to catch up and get ready for school and tests has already begun.  Why are they studying The Odyssey in sixth grade?  That was senior high school reading for me along with the Illiad.  The good news is, it’s just the “story” and not the book.  Still.

Homer Simpson wrote me during the week and I received a similar question via a comment here from Kim a while back.  (My bad for taking forever and a day to write a reply.)   Their queries have more or less the same slant with anxiety creeping up because of having taken law school entrance exams or planning to take it and regretting or worrying about how they had done in pre-law.

So here goes.

 

Let me tackle the two together, although if you read what they wrote, they have a different slant on the question I’m trying to answer.

Kim wrote:

Hello ma’am! I read your post about law schools and I am a UP/Ateneo/Beda law school aspirant. I am quite anxious but reading your blog posts helped me.

I was enrolled in Ateneo de Manila for 3 years but transferred to a school in province. I was not kicked out, it was financial. However, my grades are not that clean. I had my fair share of drops (PE classes) and fails (Accounting). My average was alright because my other subjects pulled it up. When I transferred to a university here at the province, I took up Political Science and Public Administration. I am on my last semester. Even though my General Weighted Average could make it, my TOR spells “inconsistent”. Again, there were a few dropped classes (PE mostly- again). However, I enjoy my Political Science subjects and it reflects in my grades. The law schools ask you to submit your TOR and I am worried about my grades more than the entrance exams. I passed ACET, UPCAT, etc before. Also, I have been a paid part time writer online for 6 years and a recognized student journalist and debater for as long as I can remember, but, my grades are not that pretty. What can I do about it? I cannot bring back time. I was immature then and did not think I would be worrying about grades someday.

I also want to ask if a very nice co-curricular would help? I was President of the PolSci org in school and VP for the city-wide and regional Polsci orgs. Although not perfect, I am confident I can speak well and write well. I won in writing contests and debate competitions. However, I feel it wont’t be enough. I am very insecure about my grades it is giving me this feeling of hopelessness. 😦

Meanwhile, Homer Simpson wrote:

I’m really anxious about the Ateneo Law Exam Results. I really want to pass. I know I have the option of attending other law schools but still. Being an Atenean is still different. I live in the south so it’s a lot nearer than SBC. Living in the dorm is not an option because I have to take care of my parents. There are a lot of construction happening right now in Sergio Osmena highway. I’m incredibly worried that I’ll spend most of my time in traffic if I attend SBC, and I can’t risk it given the mortality rate there. You see, Metro Manila traffic is really bad right now.

I’m just really worried that my undergrad grades aren’t worthy for ALS. I have one failing grade and I am not from UP or Ateneo. I worked harder to get my grades up after my first year in college and it did. I worked at a law firm for a year so I think I did mature a lot since graduation and I do think I’ve changed. While I did proper preparation prior to the exam, I’m worried that it won’t be enough to get me in ALS. I reviewed using LSAT reviewers. I reviewed like crazy. Would that be enough? I actually finished the exam already. Not to brag but it was easier that what I expected ( I took UPLAE so I expected it to be a lot like LAE, if not more difficult) but isn’t that the scary part? I might have answered it wrong or it is too easy that a lot of applicants will be good at the exam as well. Also, how do the interview portions go? Do you have any tips? How do I go about calming my nerves!? Results come out in 2 months. I really want to pass ALS..

and the Pinay New Yorker says:

First of all, let me declare it here that I am in no way privy to the criteria nor the process of selection beyond my actual experience of having successfully passed two of the three law school entrance exams I took.  I cannot say with authority that one thing will work or not.  I can, however, speak to what worked for me, and what I think should be taken into consideration by the people who are going through what I have gone through now as they try to go through the process of entering or being in law school.

That said, here’s what I have to say.

I have a rule of thumb about trying to focus on how to channel my anxiety.  I try to deal with that which I have control over, and just hope for the best when it comes to those that I cannot steer this way or that.  Like things that have already happened and cannot be undone.  They are beyond your control so while entertaining bouts of remorse about what one could have done differently, the truth of the matter is, the die, as they say, has been cast.

I used to be guilty of the same thing they are indulging in — I would worry myself to death and then spend sleepless nights with “what ifs”.  Then I came to terms with the fact that worrying about them didn’t exactly solve the problem.  So yes, I still indulged myself with a bit of worrying and then whipped myself back up and moved on.  I let the anxiety be a mere blip instead of a horn blowing over the sound of the world going on around me.

I’ve written about it time and again that the entrance exams are meant to pinpoint aptitude — which is defined by  Webster.com as ‘a natural ability to learn or do something’.  So for all the figures and math and words that you encounter in the tests, they are actually picking through your brain trying to see if there is an iota of a chance that you have the ‘natural ability’ to embrace learning about the law.

I will be the first to admit that my grades in college were never sterling.  I wasn’t a Dean’s lister, and I basically went to college to do away with the pre-law requirement.  If I could go straight to law school, I would have.  I felt that that was my end goal.  I wanted it THAT bad.

I did do a lot of extra curricular activities, (student council and all), but really, I don’t think that figured much into my getting into law school.

Entering the law school of your choice, or any school for that matter and taking the entrance exam to that school (such as the much anticipated, dreaded and heartbreaking UPCAT), is a numbers game.

You have to consider the fact that there are so many souls out there vying for only so many slots.  So with that in mind, do not lose the dream just because the law school of yout choice did not pick you.  It might not just be your performance in the exam per se, but there are other factors like choosing the wrong university location, the wrong course combinations, etc.  Given the number of examinees and the actual slots open, you are actually competing with the rest of the world.  The first step is to actually pass that exam, or at least find yourself in the top percentile of exam takers, high enough to make it above the cut, so to speak.

So the entrance exam is key.  If you don’t make it then, your grades will not even factor in.  You may graduate with one of those ‘laudes’ — but if you don’t pass the exam, that speaks a lot about your ability to handle law school.

The fact that there are so many passers who will make the grade is what puts your performance in college or pre-law into play.  That’s when the ‘laudes’ will matter.  Or the ones, or the fours, depending on which school you went to for your prelaw.  Will they look at your extra curricular activities?  Logic tells me that they will, but only if you make it to the interview process.  That means you’ve been shortlisted from the shortlist — passed law entrance exam and brought a decent transcript that didn’t push you to the bottom of the list.  Will that sway a decision to bring you in?  I honestly don’t think so.  I have always been heavy on the extra curricular activities back in school, but the truth of the matter is, while they help you come up with better-rounded personality, school is really about academics.  And schools evaluating who gets to sit in your classrooms will look at the aptitude and performance of those vying for a slot.

As for the location of your school, Homer, my university of choice way back when was really DLSU which was located on Taft Avenue.  My Dad vehemently protested saying the driver would have to wade through the traffic caused by the original LRT construction back then, and it might adversely affect the schedule for my siblings who were in Pasig (St. Paul) and Mendiola (San Beda) respectively.  He wanted me to go to UP Diliman.  When the UPCAT results came out, we ended up in UP Manila, a ride away from DLSU and which was hit by the LRT construction — but I was in UP and he was happy.  No regrets, but at the start, I was really upset.  And yet, it worked out.

Law school was really a toss up between UP and Ateneo for me — and okay, maybe San Beda — but when UP said no, I figured I just wasn’t meant to be there.  Of course I said, it was their loss.  (After all, when I passed the Bar, I became a chalk mark for Ateneo instead of UP.)  But things happen for a reason, and sometimes, we have to listen to the universe when it says this isn’t the place for you.  “You are supposed to be somewhere else.”  And just like in taking law school entrance exams, these tests are supposed to tell you where your brain is best suited, even if your heart is screaming “LAW!”.

I was about to hit “publish” when I recalled something from when I was taking the Bar Exams ages ago.   Back then, I sat with people taking the bar exam for the nth time — and some of them were old enough to be my grandmother or mother.  They looked as determined as any of us haggard and harrassed Ateneans clutching our printed-on-blue-paper reviewers and tips.  We saw familiar faces but usually, we were the only one from our school in any given room.  There were that many of us taking the exams.  One of those Sundays, I got terribly sick because the airconditioner was on full blast and my body was ready to give in to the pressure.  I was having a hard time focusing and them I was reminded of what brought me to that point — after all was said and done, there I was, taking the final battery of tests in my pursuit of a dream.  And that jolted me to reality.  That was my reality.  That was where I was meant to be.

You have to tenaciously hold on to your dream, yet at the same time, make room for adjustments, if needed.  We don’t always get what we want, but we can help prod the universe, by going after it.

I know that what I’m saying isn’t very reassuring, but I think you have to go back to the rule of thumb I have put down somewhere at the start of my reply: don’t fret about things you have no control over.  I would put my heart and soul to preparing for the test (for Kim) and I will sit it out and just wait, Homer.  Good luck to you both.

 
Related posts can be found here at Lawyer Wannabe.  (See navigation bar.)
 

The Lessons of 2014

Before we look ahead, we must look back.  And like I look at previous posts written in the 11 year life of this blog, I think it’s but fitting that I take stock of the year just ended and bring those lessons forward to the year that’s beginning.  I find myself reflecting on a lot of things as this year ends, and sometimes I am taken aback by how so much has happened.  (Did I really live through all THAT?)

The moon up above New York tonight... Thinking about all the moons that have come and gone and dreaming of the next time the moon shines majestically above me again... #moon #moonandstars #dusk #night #newyork #reflectionsI have been blessed.  I am grateful.  I am humbled.  I am encouraged.

I am still standing on my feet and I am actually looking forward to the new beginning that 2015 offers.

I am where I am because I took the lessons of life that came my way in 2014 and leaned on them to keep me going through the year.  I did not let the challenges of the year that just ended sweep me away and drown me.  Instead, I made them my stepping stone to get to the end of the year.

And here I am.

This year, I learned..

… that I am stronger than I thought I was.  I learned to believe in myself again and trust my instincts.  I learned to listen to the silence in my heart instead of listening to the thousand and one voices all around me.  As one of my dearest friends told me, I am my best counsel.. I am my own best bestfriend.

… that even the message from above can change through time.  Nothing is cast in stone except the fact that He always hears and will let you know His will.. Nothing is absolute except His being there, and it may happen that He gives you a different message through time from the one you heard previously.  The thing is to never stop listening, and to never stop asking Him what His will is.

… that acceptance begins with the little things.  Like most things that are hard to do, acceptance takes a while to learn, and takes practice to actually do well.  It took me long enough.  But I think I’ve gotten better at it.  You learn to go with the flow, you learn to be more forgiving of your own shortcomings.  You accept yourself for who you are.

… that it is important to remember YOU are important, too.  For the longest time, I had put everyone else’s happiness and welfare ahead of mine.  Now I realize that I can put myself in front and still be important like everyone else I considered a priority without relegating my own welfare to the background.  I no longer say “my happiness comes last” because I realize it doesn’t have to be.  Putting someone else as priority, like my son in my case, doesn’t mean sacrificing my own happiness.

Happiness is not tied to a ranking of priorities.  Happiness is just that — being happy.

… that you must never forget WHO you are.  I had forgotten certain facets of myself to conform and be a certain way to be accepted.  And it was a long journey to pull out the old “me” that got buried deep inside, but I think I’m almost there if I haven’t gotten there already.

And I missed “me”.  Now I walk with the old confidence and spunk I used to be armed with, and smile with a self-assurance that even I believe in again.  I’m back…

… that surrender is not always synonymous to defeat.  There are battles that can be won even if you decide it’s time to lay down your arms and raise the white flag.  Sometimes surrender is a form of self-preservation.  You try to stave off further loss.  You try to stem the bleeding and keep what resources you have left healthy.  You try to keep the peace by letting the world go by without a whimper.

… that forgiveness is as much, if not more for YOUR benefit as the one giving it than the one you are giving it to.  I have written about this and how I have uttered the words “I forgive you” more for my own sake than the peace of mind of the one who has caused me harm or pain.  Saying it has helped me move forward and go from the point of “being the victim” to “just being” again.  It has helped me on my journey of recovery.

… that forgiveness means looking forward and not looking back at what had happened or what you lost.  It is never a guarantee that things will be better, or that what has been taken from you will be returned.  It does help you to go beyond whatever it is that has caused you pain, and moving on is better than staying in a state of hurt and anger, any way you look at it.

… that people come and go into our lives for a reason.  And when they are here, we must cherish each lesson, each laughter, each memory that we are given a chance to make with the people around us — no matter how inconsequential their presence may seem at first glance.  And when they leave we must learn to let go, and be thankful for whatever it is they shared with us while they were present in our lives.

Even those who hurt us have a lesson to teach us or a gift to leave us with.  It may not be apparent on the surface, but in time, and if we look and not make ourselves blind with anger or tears, we will find it.

Even those who break our hearts will teach us a lesson and pave the way for us to be happy again in some form or other, through other people or events that follow their misstep.

… that the music never ends — we just choose to stop listening to it when the tune playing is not the one we requested.  I lost my optimism for a part of the year and then found it again.  And when I did, I clung to it for dear life.  Sadness and heartache are all part and parcel of living — it is whether or not we cling to it or let it go, whether or not we learn to live with it or deny it that will decide whether we overcome or let it get the better of us.

… that just as you will keep falling, you just have to pick yourself up and keep going.  I never gave up.

I didn’t really have a choice because I had my son to think of.  During my lowest of lows, I had no time to sink into depression.  I had to pull my wits about me and get back up each time.  And I know I will have to keep doing that as I push forward.  The fact that I’m still on my feet is not a guarantee I will not fall again.  In fact, I feel like I fall each time I think I’ve regained my footing, but that will never stop me from getting up again and continuing the journey.

… that there will always be another day.  So no matter how difficult a day has been, no matter how heavy the burden I have been given may be — I know there will be tomorrow and it might get better.  And if doesn’t, there will be the day after to look  forward to, and the day after that.  Hope springs eternal.  Indeed.

That the year is over is a done deal.  There’s no bringing back time lost that has passed us all by.  Time is not one to give us do-overs, but 2015 is here with a new promise of hope — the certainty of yet another beginning.

Here’s to 2015.

 

 

 

Monday Musings (Random thoughts on another day I woke up before 5am)

It’s still pitch black outside even if it’s already 10 minutes to 6:00.  I finally gave up trying to go back to sleep after waking up at past 4am and crawled out of bed to brew my morning cup.  My brain is still trying to wake up all it’s circuits so I thought I’d just write up a list of disparate thoughts which, I hope, I can or might develop into a full blown post somewhere along the way.

Monday usually finds me feeling like I’m floating from the weekend to the rush of the new week.  I do look forward to the start of the week and the thought of Monday as a reboot to the weekend just ended helps get me on my way.  I wish there was a third day to the weekend, but then at the same time, I often find myself wishing the work week itself was 6 instead of just 5 days. (I know I’m blabbering, but I make no apologies because it’s a Monday — an EARLY Monday morning.)

Facebook  (and my BFFs mom) yet saves my day (and pulls me out of the hole) from a missed Cindy Lauper concert promised to BFF Fe some moons ago..  We all make promises.  I try not to.  More so when I know there is a good chance I won’t be able to keep it, because I not only hate to disappoint the person I’m making a promise to, but worse, I disappoint myself.

I had an unplanned trip home in March 2012 (right after the Christmas visit of December 2011 and before the last trip this December 2013) and it so happened that Cindy Lauper was playing in Manila.  I promised Fe we would go, but we didn’t.  And I know she’s felt bad about that since .  But over the weekend she posted something that sort of saved my neck (although not entirely).  I’m sorry, Peps… even if you say I need not apologize.. I am.  I knew you were looking forward to that concert and a promise is a promise.  For whatever it’s worth, I have never enjoyed attending and dancing at a concert like I have with you — remembering that Side A concert we saw courtesy of you-know-who way back when I saw a lot of concerts and fashion shows.

Moving to New York in 2000 — (and I’m suddenly hit with “Wow — it HAS been THAT long!”) — I have always been content with the lifestyle choice I made when I started working here — until now.  Knowing what I am and what I had accomplished before I moved here, and then taking that giant step back to adjust to my new life in New York, I wonder if I had not short-changed myself in embracing the “family is the reason I came here in the first place” bit in choosing the career path I took.

In many ways, I realize now that that choice was noble and pure and is still true in my heart (and all I have to do is look at the boy who unabashedly proclaims his love for me at every turn) — but I wonder if that choice had boxed me into a role and persona that was much, much smaller than the real person I am.  (That’s a thought for me to ponder, and not meant to be answered here.  Monday.. musings.. get it?)

I have come to realize that while ACCEPTANCE does not exactly equate to FORGIVENESS, it does help to push one forward to go past what one has no control over.  I’ve always been an “I will fix this” kind of person.  I don’t know if it’s arrogance or simply my bull-headedness about being able to control things  and not letting things control me.  For the past year, I’ve been grappling with a festering wound within that I have somehow managed to tuck deeper in my heart in a vain attempt to simulate healing.  People ask me how I’m doing — I say I’m okay.  Not exactly better, but I’m okay.  That, in itself, is already “acceptance” in a sense — knowing where I am and where I’ve landed after the rollercoaster ride of the last year.

I had forgotten how I had missed school and my plans of taking on a course in History until recently, and over the weekend, when I embarked on a new journey of learning.  Procrastination has been a close companion even in my younger years.  Once it clings to me, it is so hard to shake it off.  Not too long ago, I had enrolled in an online history course via podcast from YALE, and while I was sooooo excited at the start, I never went beyond the first lecture.  Over the weekend, I got a new recommended course, this time from ColumbiaX, and I am actually excited — VERY EXCITED — to hit the books again.  (You should see my eyes twinkling at the thought.)  For all the years I spent with the Sisters of Saint Paul de Chartres (nursery to high school), the giant minds that helped shaped my once-sheltered brain to think more broadly at the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of the Philippines, and the most challenging years at the Ateneo School of Law with the Jesuits — one thing I missed the most when I got here was studying and learning and the challenge of reading and pulling together my own thoughts and analysis from a textbook.

I had even seriously thought of auditing classes at NYU (which is why I get their course catalogue every year), but then, I never had the time.. or couldn’t make time.  Thanks to technology and everybody’s rush to be at everyone else’s fingertips, it’s a totally different classroom now, and I can be in it whenever I want to be in it.  So excited for this one!

Some things we lose cannot be replaced — like the 5,000 or so photos on my iPhone (which aren’t on my cloud) — but I can always keep taking photos and immortalize future memories in the next handheld I get.  It wasn’t so much the loss of the iPhone 5S which was part of the technology trove I get from work — but it was all those photos that I snapped away from blog graphics to pictures with my family and precious selfies of my funny guy and I.  The iPhone is being replaced this week — and I’m not complaining even if there’s a company freeze on upgrades to the iPhone 6.  But I cannot help but cringe at the thought of all the photos I lost, and the “notes” in the journal section where I had stored bits and pieces like my morning dose of the Serenity Prayer.  (Which, after a year of saying it every day in the morning, I have yet to memorize.)

It wasn’t such a total loss because a good batch of them made it to my Flickr account, and at least 300+ are on my Instagram feed.  Still.

There were a ton of photos of my altered book which was meant to document the “bare background pages” to the finished journaled layouts which are now in limbo.  Thankfully, my Thank You Postcard Project photos are actual scans of the postcards, so they were not on the iPhone.

I have somehow gotten over the initial disappointment, but it only serves to remind me that I should have backed up the files instead of relying on the fact that my iPhone and I were joined at the hip.  That is, until it fell out of my purse and into someone else’s hand.

6:55 and my day has to move on now.  I have indulged myself enough as I waited for the sun to start rising, and it’s slowly creeping up over New York City.  That doesn’t mean I can just linger here.. which I wish… but cannot.  It’s Monday, after all.  Hope you all have a good start of the week.. I know mine has gotten off to a very good one.

Accepting when it’s time to give up

Time to give upWe humans are stubborn by nature.  I know I am.  I have always been armed with a ton of optimism and hope, even when my better judgment seemed to scream at me to go or look the other way.  But there is more to life than logic and what others say or think. There is your heart.  And if you’re like me, you tend to follow it more so when you feel the message from above is to go this way or that.

Against all odds.

Even when it starts looking like the choice you made may have been wrong.  Or that the choice you made is not working out.

I am at that juncture when I keep asking myself if I should just admit that perhaps, it is time to give up.  It’s like how I’ve been working on experimenting with polymer clay for quite a while now… and I have not really achieved anything much besides learning the ropes.  Not for lack of effort, but my world is moving in so many directions even taking the time to create designs has been hard to find.  So is it time to give up?

I am usually the last one to succumb to feeling bereft of hope.  There IS always hope, I’ve said time and again.  And there are other considerations besides what I think should be the parameters of my decision.  It goes beyond me and my little world.

I used to think that giving up is admitting defeat, or succumbing to defeat — but I’ve started to see it as something akin to acceptance and just realizing there are things that you aren’t meant to have even if you think you deserve it.  GIving up might actually be a winning move because it means acceptance of reality instead of hoping for something that had long been gone or torn apart.

I watched “Noah” the movie last week and one line in the movie resonated with me more than the grandiose production and special effects which made it quite a visual spectacle — Noah said “Some things just cannot be unbroken.”  So you cannot put it back together, and it becomes something you need to learn to live with — or not.   You have to choose whether to keep trying or just learning to accept that it is time to give up.