When I arrived at law school, I didn't quite know what to expect. There are no lawyers in my family; anything I thought I knew about the experiences ahead were things that I had read online and digested with a healthy dose of salt.
I quickly found out that I was drowning. This wasn't like undergrad where I studied the humanities. If you love reading and are willing to put the time into writing (that is, revising) then you do okay. I love reading and writing; as a result, I did okay.
Law school is different. It plays to some of my strengths as a reader and writer, but I often felt like I was being told to use a muscle that I had just learned I had. So much of the curriculum and the pedagogy that delivered it felt unintuitive and foreign.
Part of the feeling of drowning undoubtedly had to do with the quality of my peers. Graduate school is a filter and I've found myself among some interesting and sharp folks in law school. At times, I felt like an imposter, drowning in the shallow end. More than once I was the definitive dumb kid in the room, a surreal experience for someone who prides himself on being in the know.
I've completed two years of law school now. I've found that there is a surprising pleasure in drowning, but the reward of that pleasure requires a renewed focus on grit and growth.
By grit, I don't mean white-knuckling it. I mean persistence and resilience. Grit is the willingness to use deep work to push the mind to new and exciting places. Law is an epic story that rewards careful and interwoven thinking fueled by grit.
But grit has to be paired with a growth-mindset. The mindset is a commitment to the idea you are always in the radical process of becoming intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. Imposter syndrome at its root has to do with a fixed-mindset: your perceived inadequacy in a particular moment is who you think you are. Embrace a growth-mindset and there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Mistakes are just milestones.
We have to -- we get to -- make choices about who we want to be every day. Grit and growth. That's what I'm about these days. How about you?