I am in my last semester of law school, and even as I type that, I can’t really fathom how it happened. In many ways, it feels like I just started law school. The last three years have gone so so quickly. The last semester of law school feels very different than the last semester of undergrad. I remember being so excited to finish undergrad because I knew exactly what was coming after: I was moving to the east coast for law school. Now, standing in the last semester of law school, I can honestly say I have no idea what is coming next.
A lot of factors up to this point have continually changed, which made my ability to know exactly where I’d be after graduation more difficult. So, I wanted to write about being fearful or nervous about the future. I know for a lot of people, the unknown is really scary. I was texting my best friend from college about feeling really overwhelmed and generally anxious by not knowing what’s coming and she said, “the axiom of life: hatred of the unknown.” It’s funny how hard it is to embrace the unknown, especially when it deals with your future, employment, finances, etc. It can be paralyzing. Still, there is a bit of beauty in the unknown because it means we can kind of do anything. The world is, to use a cliche, our oyster. We can choose something or not, we can go after an opportunity or not, and we can make things happen.
I think the only thing worse than not knowing what is coming is knowing what is coming and being completely unhappy with it. I think it’s the millennial in me that I refuse to settle for something that doesn’t make me happy. I can make the best of a situation that isn’t ideal, but if something truly, fundamentally doesn’t make me happy—doesn’t spark joy if you will—then I’d kind of be signing up for a life of unfulfillment and that’s far worse than not knowing what’s next.
A few years ago, I posted an Instagram with the caption: “Imagine the life you want to live, cling to the image, and pursue it with all your strength. Don’t settle, don’t become so discouraged you become convinced it’s impossible. Persist.” I still very much stand by this caption that I wrote when the life I imagined for myself looked very different than the one I imagine now.
The funny thing is that I believe the unknown isn’t truly unknown. Rather, it’s just intangible. A holdover from Catholic undergraduate education, I feel like everything has always worked out how it’s supposed to. The few times I really really wanted something and didn’t get it, I ended up doing something so much better. For example, I was so set on going back to California for my 2L summer of law school. I applied to jobs in D.C. and interviewed for them, but right when I got home for spring break I got an interview with a place in San Francisco. I thought, “this is it, my CA destiny is finally happening.” Then I got an offer from a place in D.C. that I was really excited about and a “we liked you, but it was competitive, try again next time,” from San Francisco. I was thrown for a loop… but my D.C. summer was one of the best experiences and something I treasure, despite my complete pushback against going anywhere but California. Sometimes we have a plan, but the universe has another one, and between our plan and the universe’s, we lose every time.
Part of me feels like I don’t know what’s next for a reason. I’m here for a reason. If anything, I’ve been uncomfortable for a while. I’m a planner. I plan. I know what’s next. I anticipate. And yet… I have zero control over this. I can apply for jobs, network, do my thing, but someone, somewhere knows what’s next, even if it isn’t tangible or visible to me yet. What I’d like you to take away from this post is this: you aren’t alone in fearing the unknown, in being nervous about the future, in wanting answers you don’t have. But at the end of the day, you have to trust that the universe will work it out. Take charge when you can, but also know that some things are far bigger than you.
When I’m nervous, my anxiety gets a little heightened, so I lean into self-care, wellness, and reflection. Go to the gym, apply a face mask and listen to “light on” by Maggie Rogers, journal, write yourself a letter. Express your concerns in a tangible way, then let them go.