Looking back over the past year, I realize it was a year of accomplishments for me even though it was shrouded in many moments where I thought I would legitimately lose my cool.
If you had told me in January that I would end up back in Rockingham and working at a newspaper, that I would once again have to change my writing style after being tortured to write a certain way, I probably would have openly laughed at you. Funny how life takes those silly turns.
The first of the year found me sitting in a law school classroom. My final year of school. The very last stretch of a marathon that I have been running for eight years.
I had become quite adjusted in my day-to-day life as a law student, but this last semester was a bit different. I had to face the bar application. The longest and most tedious application I have had to fill out in my short life. After working on it for a couple of months I was finally able to submit it around the end of February, but I did not feel relief in getting rid of it. It was only a reminder of what was to come summer of 2013 — the dreaded bar exam.
Fast forward to May 4, the day I actually graduated from law school. Yes, I graduated on Star Wars day! Sorry, had to let the nerd out in me for a moment there. It was a wonderful day for me, but also a very sad day. I would have to say goodbye to some of the best friends I have ever made in my life. People that actually got who I was as a person. While I have made some amazing friends in my life, I have never felt the sense of belonging like I did when I entered law school. Leaving that atmosphere was difficult for me as well as for my friends and colleagues.
That day really pressed upon me that a new chapter of my life was about to begin, and I honestly wasn’t sure if I was ready for it.
Still, that day was filled with a lot of smiles and laughter. I really felt proud of making it that far, and the sense of accomplishment that day almost made me forget what was to come. It really felt like I had finished. It was over. The long nights of not sleeping properly, studying from sunrise to sunrise (not sunset), drinking so much caffeine you wonder if you will give out with a heart attack, the outlines, the note cards, the banging my head against a table as I try to learn some confusing and obscure law. It legitimately felt like it was over. How wrong I was.
On May 14, I began the dreadful preparation for the North Carolina bar exam. A two day long exam filled with 12 essays and 200 multiple choice questions. A test that is nothing more than torture and should be considered a crime against humanity. Perhaps I am being a bit dramatic now, but it was how I felt during that time in my life.
So, I made the move from Virginia Beach, Va., to Raleigh so I could take the live lectures that were offered by BARBRI, a bar review course that costs way too much money but is absolutely necessary if you are to have any hope of passing that exam.
The lectures weren’t so bad most of the time considering I was relearning everything from law school. At other times it was so dreadful I had to force myself to actually stay in the classroom and not throw my papers in the air and say “forget this!” I mean having to relearn that blasted rule against perpetuities will drive anyone insane.
My days from May 14 until July 29 were filled with basically 10 to 12 hours of nonstop studying. The stress of the exam took a toll on me. I lost hair and started getting tension headaches that would knock me off my feet. I was not a pleasant person at that point in time, and I can only thank my friends and family for putting up with the dragon that I became during that time.
The days of the exam finally rolled around. You know how you can prepare and prepare for something, but in the end the reality of the situation is way more than you could actually prepare for. Yep, that was definitely those days for me. All I could do was pray that by some miracle the bar examiners would ask me the questions I knew the answers to. Thank goodness for my parents who continued to encourage me even when I felt like it was a total waste to go through with this process.
A total of 1,270 people took the exam in July. I walked out of there thinking I had failed, but still feeling relief that it was finally over for now. I did my best and that was all I could do. The waiting for the results was a bit torturous. It took about five weeks before I actually got the letter saying if I passed or failed. I really shouldn’t have complained about the waiting process knowing that several other states take way longer than North Carolina to send out their results, but I still complained.
My parents were the one to bring the letter to me. They sat around me even though I begged them to leave me alone as I opened it. I didn’t want them to see me break down if I didn’t pass. They, of course, refused to leave my side. The first line I read held the word “congratulations” and that was all I needed. I screamed with happiness and tossed the letter into the air. I don’t think I even read it in its entirety until about 15 minutes later.
When the dust finally settled I was forced to face the question “now what?” I had bills and I needed a job to pay those bills, but the economy the way it is makes it hard to find a job anywhere. Even for those of us with shiny new degrees. That is how I found myself at The Richmond County Daily Journal. I didn’t plan on being here. I am not a journalist by any means, and I am constantly reminded of that fact on a daily basis, but I’m learning.
Will I stay here until the end of my working days? Most likely not. Do I regret coming to work here? Absolutely not. I have learned things that I never would have had the opportunity to learn had I not come to work here. I am also learning things about myself and it is helping me guide my future decisions in life.
Do I still intend to be an attorney and use my license? Of course. I would be a fool not to. When that job comes around I will gladly accept it with open arms. In the meantime it is interesting to just see where life takes me. As I always say — I plan and God laughs at me. It will be interesting to finally just go along for the ride for now.