Dreaming the dream

I am a dreamer at heart.  I think it’s what gives me hope and what makes me believe that no matter how bad things may get, there is a better day up ahead somewhere.  Maybe not today or tomorrow — but it’ll come.

It’s dreaming that makes me think that the disappointments that life throws my way are but temporary stumbling blocks I can hop over or dance around — depending on which fantasy I’m thinking of at the moment.

In my mind, I think of better days, I go back to warm and fuzzy feelings, and I look forward.  That’s what dreams are supposed to be — at least the ones we consciously spin in our heads and hearts.  It’s supposed to help us focus on what is yet to come.

What sets apart one dreamer from another is if he or she goes for that dream.  Some end up just wishing their life away without taking that giant leap towards finding out if that dream is within reach.  Others jump head first and hit the ground with a loud thud and then they get up and conjure up other dreams.  Others just stay frozen wallowing in their broken dreams.

So I got another e-mail from a Lawyer Wannabe.  (Makes me think I should change my tag line from “Musings of a Filipina living in New York” to “Advice for the legal eagle dreamers out there”.)

KC (also from UP)  is asking me about whether or not she should pursue an MS (driven by the current job she has) or Law which she is thinking of doing.  She wasn’t able to take the Law Aptitude Examination (LAE) as her job required her to go abroad, making her miss the only exam date for UP.  She is thinking of taking the San Beda Law entrance exam because she doesn’t want to wait another year.  Financial considerations are making her think twice about that decision because her parents are both government employees.  The crux of her dilemma is regarding whether she should pursue law or a Master’s degree in Science.

I gave her a brief reply via email which I have expounded below and want to share with those who might be having the same questions running through their head..

I have always encouraged anyone and every one who has dreamed to be something to go for it.  In the end, the choice is yours to live with, and I am of the school of the thought that it is better to try for something and know if it’s for you, rather than keep dreaming and never know.  It seems that so many people think of being this or that but never even get anywhere near finding out if they can be such and such because of sheer reluctance.  We have all heard it said, “Life is short..”.. “You only live once..”.  And yet we think of those phrases only when it doesn’t require us to be brave enough to take the leap, so to speak.If money is a factor then you might want to wait for next year’s UP exam.  Law is a very expensive course to take because of the books and numerous materials to be photocopied.  That is a given in ANY SCHOOL you go to.  So tuition really is the deal breaker.  You also have to take into consideration the fact that you’re working.  I did it back then, but it wasn’t easy.  Can you hack the schedule?

If you went for your masters, will your job pay for it?  If they will, then isn’t that a more practical route?  You mentioned MS so I am guessing your training is in the sciences and not the arts.  You have to weigh your skills against your dream.  Law requires a lot of writing — if that is not your strength, that is going to be a problem.  Our exams are all about reasoning out — more so in the Bar.

Regarding the financial aspect, my question is, if you are already working, why do you need to depend on your parents for tuition?  I would like to think that they had done you well by taking care of you up to this point, so it’s about time you stood up on your own.  However, if your intention is to be a full time student, then that is another matter altogether.  I think it will do you well to sit down with your parents and find out if they are prepared to continue to support you so you know where you stand if you make it to law school after all the exams are done.  You wouldn’t want to have to face the choice of foregoing your dream due to financial unpreparedness.  Their ability to support you should not deter you from pursuing your law education or your masters — it will help, but I know you can find a way if you put your heart and soul to it.  I did.

If it means that much to you, then by all means take the entrance exams.  Passing that hurdle is one step closer to the dream, but until you actually do, there’s no use fretting about the rest.  I know that might sound rather whimsical, but sometimes, you just have to throw all caution to the wind and go for it.  If it is meant for you, it will land on your lap — even if you don’t make it to the law school of your choice.  Opportunity will come knocking, maybe from UP!  Who knows?

The long and short of it is that you will never really find out until you go for it..  I think the best advice I can give you is to follow your dream but be ready to make it come true.  Do not ever let yourself be limited by your resources — if you don’t have them, find them.  We have been blessed with different levels of intellect, and my mother always harped on the fact that we were not created equal for a reason.   There are some of us who are more blessed than others, but that doesn’t mean the lesser ones are any less in the eyes of the boss upstairs.  It’s just the way life works — we can’t all be superstars.. otherwise, there will be no fans.  We can’t all be lawyers — and we can’t all be accountants or scientists of this or that discipline.  But we all have a role to play.

Find what it is that makes you happy.  Keep dreaming, and make those dreams a reality.

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

When you don’t make it to your school of choice

First of all, apologies for the tardy reply.  I had started drafting this in early July and it has lain untouched in my draft box.  Life has taken me over as always, and sometimes, dishing out my two cents’ worth by way of giving advice is not always as easy as I normally would write something spontaneous.

I got an e-mail (actually, two emails) but didn’t quite catch the e-mails in a timely manner because I hardly check the email account associated with the blog.  Please e-mail me instead at pinaynewyorker@gmail.com.

I didn’t get much details except that someone was hoping to get to law school, didn’t get to the preferred school because of a fraction of a point difference in the required average.

Depressed and sad, what to do?

I had to let out an audible sigh after writing that question. It’s something we must all consider when we set our sights on landing in a particular university or college and we miss the mark. This is not only true for those seeking higher education but also for those trying to get into college (or had tried to get into college). Take heart!

So what do you do when you don’t land where you want to be, or get what you want… I have had to deal with that question many times over in epic proportions over the last two to three years.  And as the years went — it seemed to me that the disappointments became bigger and bigger.  The heartbreak became harder and harder to bear.

But I moved on.

Without pinning my hopes on ‘luck’, I instead pinned my hopes on ‘faith’ and ‘the universe’.  What is it that we say in the vernacular?  Kung para sa iyo talaga, magiging iyo.  Kung ukol, bubukol.  (If it is meant for you, it will be yours.  It is mean to be, it will happen.)

We have to determine what it is that means the most to us.  What it is that we truly want to achieve.  If one thing doesn’t work out, then move on to plan B.

Simply put, if your first school of choice doesn’t accept you (just as UP decided I wasn’t to be part of their student pool), move to another choice.  (And I embraced the blue..)  It doesn’t mean having to give up your dream — it just means adjusting it.

If it really means a lot to you to actually go to law school, the fact that you did not land in your school of choice shouldn’t shatter that dream.  It changes how you realize it, but it doesn’t mean that dream is now unreachable.

A former high school classmate (who is now 48 like me) with three grown children, a public service/media career she was appointed to, endorsements and an actor/husband who the ladies in our generation would not mind waking up next to every day, and whose celebrity has help spread cancer awareness and the message of hope to the public recently posted she was going to audit (observe/sit in) classes in law school.  Then followed the comment that she had always wanted to go to law school, and was wondering if she could do it.  Kaya kaya?  she asked.  We all pounced on the question and words of support chimed in from all over.  OF COURSE! Kayang-kaya!

First, age is never a detriment.  I’ve related this many times that when I took the bar in my mid-twenties, I was in the midst of adults old enough to be my mom and even be my grandma. Never too late to dream, or pursue a dream.

Secondly, her health challenges notwithstanding, she has the money and more importantly the brains.  Need I say more?

And that applies to everyone.  We have different ‘gifts’ and abilities. Our financial stretch differs from one person to the other, but the financial burden of pursuing ones’ dream can be adjusted.  If you can’t afford the more expensive school, go to the one that fits the budget.

“The Best” is not always for everyone.  Whether it’s because you cannot make it to that school because your scores or grades didn’t make the cut, or because you are otherwise constrained by other limitations, those are mere challenges that you should find a way around to get to where you want to go.  Those of us who are able to get up after a fall do so because we know how to make the most of what we have, and we never lose the hope that things will get better.

And while “better” is relative to how you perceive the world, it is never too far away if only you would look close enough to see how there is so much you have been blessed with.

So four or five years from now, don’t  be surprised if this once child star now celebrity mom and public servant in her own right, wife to the once heart throb and cousin to another, is addressed “Attorney”.  I know I won’t be surprised — I’ll just chime in and say “It’s about time.”

Related posts on the pursuit of a legal education can be found in the blog section LAWYER WANNABE in the navigation bar.

Feedback on feedback: Making it to law school

I often wonder what has happened to the people I had shared a piece of my mind with through the years.  One of the law students who wrote me eventually made it and passed the Bar.  It was easy to find his name on the roster of successful bar examinees because he had written me from his personal e-mail.  I haven’t heard from him since, but I’m proud of him.

I recently received a follow up comment from Mike who had written me about choosing to go to law school on what others may call “a whim” despite having never thought of it before.

Here’s what he wrote:  

Hello again, Atty! How are you? I just want to thank you for all the advice you have given me! I passed the recent law school admission test in San Beda and guess what? The results weren’t that bad. I received a rare above average grade and was admitted in one of the “star” sections of our school. I had a rough time in the last part though, which is the essay. Well, the first part was already grueling to begin with so I guess preparation paved the way for luck. Thanks, Atty! By the way, I keep on reading your blog and I really appreciate your love for the arts. Too bad the school year is about to begin and I’m already preparing myself for the challenges ahead. May the Lord bless you and your family always, Atty! and keep on inspiring people 🙂

And Pinay New Yorker says:  

I always say that everything happens for a reason.. You made it! You made it to a good school!! You did very well!!! I must say I am disappointed, though, that you continue to underrate yourself. All of this was achieved through your own efforts. While prayer and luck may have figured in your landing the spot, without your own skills, knowledge and aptitude, no matter how rigorously you prepare for the test, the questions are designed to probe what that brain of yours already knows.

So you made it– now what?

I hate to burst your bubble (kidding!) but that essay you found difficult is probably going to be peanuts compared to what lies ahead. But I like that you are embracing it and owning it — and that’s the right attitude. I just hope that through the ups and many downs ahead, you’ll keep that fire in your heart.

Yes, even when you find yourself questioning your decision to go to law school when you can’t seem to get the answers right.

Yes, even when you didn’t get enough sleep memorizing the codal provision and you get called on a case you didn’t read in the original.

Yes, even if the darned QPI gets you and they decide they don’t want you there anymore– DO NOT LET THE DREAM GO! It only means that another university will proclaim you as a PROUD bar passer someday.

And yes, if — by some fluke– you don’t pass the Bar during your first take. Grieve, pick up the pieces, hit the books and take it again.

Some of the best lawyers I know, and some who are dear friends got booted out of their original law school of choice. Some of them didn’t make it their first and even second take– but they never let the dream go.

Believe in yourself. Believe that God put you there. . Do not waste the opportunity or squander away this gift. Remember the parable of the talents — these are yours.

Thank you, Mike. I am happy to have been a part of this journey and hope to one day hear from you, telling me you passed the Bar. In the meantime, I’m just a few keystrokes away.

Ps. I received an email from someone in Davao– I’ll get to you in a separate post.

Related posts can be found in the blog section LAWYER WANNABE which can be found in the navigation bar.

(Of Never-ending but very welcome) Law School Inquiries – A reply to Concerned Citizen

This is a much-delayed response to a long e-mail I received from someone who strayed into my blogspace last April. I apologize for the delay but it was not exactly a question I could answer with a “yes” or a “no” and I had totally lost track of which account the e-mail originally was sent to. (Reminder to self on e-mail / contact info widget.  And just for everyone else’s info, best e-mail to reach me at is pinaynewyorker@gmail.com)

First of all, I want to thank “Concerned Citizen” (CC) for having taken the time to write the e-mail and share with me his dilemma and ask me for my two cents’ worth on the matter. I am humbled that you found me worthy of asking, and no, I don’t find it nerve-wracking — on the contrary, your asking me the question was a compliment to this blog’s very existence.

CC would have graduated or is about to graduate from a prestigious university in Manila and is asking me what I think his chances of going to law school are, and if it is prudent to give law school a try given that it is something that came to him only in very recent weeks. He gave me a good background on how he landed where he landed, and I must say I found myself “talking back” as if in conversation as I read his e-mail.

CC, for whatever it’s worth, please bear in mind my advice here is just that: MY advice. You have quite a good head on your shoulders, and I take my hat off to your parents for having raised you as they did. Trust your instincts.

We parents always want what’s best for our children, but you will have to pardon our tendency of sometimes making the mistake of living vicariously through you, our children.. They mean well by trying to imbibe in you that goal of becoming a doctor one day. We try to set lofty goals for our children, because we dream of a good life and a good future for them. We seek affirmation of our success as parents in the hope that they will become successful. We always want our children to apply themselves, and be the best of what they can be. You are fortunate that your father seems to have the flexibilty between the two most cherished titles parents wish for their children (Doctor or Attorney), so that means you have retained the prerogative to choose. So setting aside what your family may want for you, let’s focus on what YOU want for yourself now.

The pursuit of higher education is a daunting task. Whichever way you go, it will mean hard work and a different brand of perseverance and persistence that you will need to see you through. Your father’s dream of you having a title and for the two of you to have something to be proud of is neither trivial or selfish even if it appears to be on its face. In a sea of graduates that join the job market year on year, a four year college course is now the norm. Of course having DLSU on your resume gets you more than just a foot in the door, but you need more to get you up the ladder.

I think I can see what your father and the rest of your family sees in you, that is why they keep goading you on to pursue higher studies.

Do not give in to self-doubt. You say you don’t think you are as smart as they think you are — I believe you’re short-selling yourself in this respect. That you lost your fervor for studying in college is not indicative of how intelligent you are.

My choice early on was DLSU. My father, however. wanted his daughter in UP. I have written about this several times that even if he decried the hardships that the (then) construction of the LRT on Taft Avenue would cause, I ended up on the other side of Taft Avenue in UP Manila.

I saw my college years fly by as a time of seeing the world with the eyes of a grown up. While I started out taking copious notes and studying diligently, an English professor was telling me she knows I deserve a 1 but she couldn’t give that to me if I was never in class by my sophomore year. I was still pretty tame compared to most — I never smoked, and while I went out with friends who went drinking on most afternoons, they ordered me a coke for every round of beer. (This same group produced at least 4 lawyers besides myself, by the way.). I could have made the Dean’s list if I really put my heart and soul to it, but it just wasn’t in me. I had other things that kept me busy.

I was also hit by that “I’m not as smart as they think I am” early on when I sat in one of my classes with my freshman “blockmates”. I couldn’t help but wonder if I really belonged in that class with what seemed to be a motley crew of freshmen from different parts of the country — but despite appearances, accents and all that — I felt they were all smarter than me. It took me a while to realize I did belong, and what’s more, I could actually hold my own. 

“Passion” and “Motivation” are two things that only you can find.  If it is not where you are right now or in what you are doing, then you have to accept that and move on from there.  You will only find those two if you continue to search for it.  We can only cheer you on, but the motivation must be there in you, or there will be nothing that will move you one way or another.

From this point forward, I hope that you will think only of you.  Let’s take the “family” equation out of the way.  I kept hearing you go back to “what would make (your) family happy,” and while I think that’s a major part of the equation, I don’t think that’s what should weigh heavily on any decision you make about yourself.  You appear to have done them proud and have been a good son up to this point.  You will always be — even if you choose to be a rock star.  Remember that no matter what you choose to be, and no matter how you end up in the future — whether you become a politician, an activist, a lawyer, a doctor — they will always be your family.  Your future, however, is in your hands.

I know only too well the pressure that thinking about one’s future brings.  No matter how independent-minded you are or want to be, there are always things that come into the picture, like people who depend on you or whose state of mind is intertwined with your course of action.   You always try to do things in the now in preparation for a goal or a dream about tomorrow.  But you have to keep in mind that it all devolves around YOU.   You can only be good at something that you truly enjoy or love, no matter how you may be able to learn and pick up things in a snap. You can only be truly good at something you like and enjoy doing. That is why you should decide based on what you want.  Do not be afraid to think about new ideas — so what if you just thought about pursuing a legal education in recent weeks?  What I think you should focus on is, as you wrote: “When I thought of this option, unexpectedly, I felt quite relieved for some reason.  I knew that somehow, my heart has found peace in the midst of all the anxieties I’m feeling because of the apprehensions the future bring me.”  CC, I would read that aloud and I would listen to my voice.

And here’s another reminder:  .. I decided to shift out, with a conviction that I do not want to be a doctor.  I realized that I didn’t want to become a doctor, it’s just my family pushing me to do something they want for me.”  I copied that verbatim from your e-mail.  I just realized on fourth reading that in one breath, you said it twice – “I do not/didn’t want to become a doctor.”

Okay, so that’s that.

I have always said you will never know until you try — you’ve already seen that the medical option wasn’t for you because you tried. I like that you can actually see that pursuing a law degree is not going to be easy, but you didn’t blink by thinking it was impossible. You actually see it as an easier path to success and stability later on in life.

So what do I think about you pursuing a law degree? I believe you have the smarts, the English (number 1 requirement!) and the proper frame of mind to go for it. You were able to relate your story to me in a very coherent and logical fashion. It was actually well-written, and I would have published it here in full but I felt that too many of the details would make you and your family easily identifiable by those who know you.   If I were to base my answer on whether or not you had what it takes academically and intellectually, I’d say yes.  But more than seeing  that you have the skills and the brains to go for it, I think the fact that you have a very clear picture of what you want to do is yet another reason to give the law entrance exams a try.  You’re just being held back by the notion that everyone wants you or expects you to be a doctor, and the thought that you only started thinking of law school recently kind of scares you.  Don’t let it.

Dreams have no timeline.  You can be a dreamer of many dreams.  What does have a timeline is going for that dream.  And no one says your dreams cannot change.  Let’s say you take the entrance exam, you pass, you go to law school, and you eventually pass the Bar and become a lawyer.  Then during your first year of practice, like me, you realize that litigation is not for you.  You realize that you want to be a journalist.  Or that you want to be a pastry chef.. or you want to be a travel writer.  What’s there to stop you?  Only you can really put a stop to any dream that crosses your mind.

I’d go for it.  And if, after the exams.. or even after a year or two in law school you realize it’s not for you, go and dream another dream.  Some people judge those who can’t seem to make up their minds about their pursuits as being whimsical or being irresponsible and living a life without direction, I say that perhaps they just have the guts to go after what hits their fancy at any given time.  Not everyone is as brave.

You know what you want.  I say go chase that dream and see where it takes you.

Related posts can be found in the blog section LAWYER WANNABE which can be found in the navigation bar.