Millenial Blues

It’s been a rough year for me.

I graduated from law school last May and still haven’t found a full time job. Obviously, a forced relocation that uprooted me from my network and delayed my taking the bar exam for an additional six months didn’t help. Still, who knew it would be so hard for an educated, able bodied person to find meaningful work? And by meaningful I mean something in a professional field (I’d prefer to at least be a paralegal but at this point, I’ll take a secretary job) that pays at least $10/hr. It just seems like every time I get close, something happens to knock me off my ass again. I had a great internship at a non-profit last summer that was an audition for a full time job. They gave the full time position to another intern who was less qualified than me, who kept the job for just under a year and moved on (I know that because we’re connected on LinkedIn). I really wanted that job and had they given it to me, Tex and I would still be in Atlanta. But I guess it just wasn’t meant for me.

Seeing as Texas hasn’t been hit as hard in the economic downturn, I had high hopes for finding employment in Houston. Tex is employed but underpaid- we’re a hair above “just barely making it” without any income from me. I had a talk with one of my law school gal pals and realized my law degree was screening me out, so I have removed it from my resume. So I spend my days getting up at 8am like I have a job to go to, applying to jobs, working out in the afternoons, and watching tv. It’s depressing. I don’t have any friends or family of my own here. I gotta say, being a housewife is no fun unless you’re rich. It’s almost enough to make me wish I had a baby just so there would be some purpose and meaning to my days. I’ve still got the tax preparer gig, but summer session is slow and they overhired. Since I’m the newbie, I’m not getting hours anymore and tax season doesn’t start until January. Bar results aren’t out til November. So what the fuck am I supposed to do in the meantime?

I know that you shouldn’t worry and pray. But it’s hard not to be anxious when your bank account balance is always hovering close to zero after paying rent, and you have to keep borrowing from your ever dwindling savings account just to make ends meet. I wish I had Tex’s assuredness that everything is going to be okay. Part of me is just angry. I feel like I did all the right things, and even if I didn’t, I worked my ass off and made the best decisions I could. As a working class black girl from the south side of town, there were certain things I just didn’t know. Sure, I could have chosen a different major, done different extracurriculars, or chosen a different graduate degree but that only would have happened if I could somehow go back in time with what I know now. I’m not expecting to be on easy street before I turn 30. But can I at least make some fucking progress? I know there are plenty of folks out there who aren’t as smart or as hard working as I am who are doing far better financially. I try to count my blessings instead of other people’s. But will the struggle ever end? Can I at least get to the point where I can maintain instead of playing catch-up? I just want to be able to use my God-given, school-refined talents to make a living. Why is that seemingly so impossible? On top of everything, my car is breaking down so I’m scared to  go farther than the grocery store for fear my car will overheat. I’m trying to preserve it for when I really need it, like to go on job interviews. But that means I can’t go out to networking events, which are all 20-30 minutes away in downtown Houston. I don’t know anyone I can catch a ride with either, and Tex works on the opposite side of town so he can’t get me anywhere I need to be before 7pm, which is when most events are ending. Plus, apparently networking ain’t free anymore- you’ve got to pay cover.

I try really hard to put a brave face on. I pray and try to put it out of my mind. But every day I don’t have a job is a day I feel useless. Unwanted. What was the point of 7 years of higher education, when I could have stopped at high school and been in the same position? Possibly a better one, since I’d have 7 years of work experience? By the way, entry level ain’t what it used to be. Jobs that required a college degree when I was in college, now only require a GED. If you do need a degree for the job, you also need 5, 7, 10 years work experience- just to be able to make $50,000/yr or $40k/yr with benefits. It’s insane. *sigh* In my heart, I know that God will provide. He’s never let me down yet. But the doubt in my mind is hard to quiet. I used to feel like I could never fail. I was valedictorian, voted most likely to succeed, got into the honors program at a top ten public university and survived law school, even if I didn’t necessarily conquer it. I guess this is just my test…patience isn’t my biggest virtue. But giving up isn’t an option. I have to make it. I have to.

The bar exam

It’s finally over.

Actually, it was over a week ago but I’m just now getting to the point where I’m no longer too exhausted to talk about it. I studied hard, did my best, and prayed. A lot. I’m still praying for favor over my exam since it has to be graded and I won’t get the results until November. Jesus keep me near the cross and the curve! Meanwhile, here’s a snapshot of my experience.

 

Bar prep isn’t fun, but it doesn’t start out completely horrible. You can focus because the fear of failure is like your very own Strict Asian Dad, goading you into reading outlines when you’d rather be using the internet.

 

facebook study

 

After the first two weeks, I realized that the bar exam is creeping closer and maybe I didn’t remember as much from 1L year as I thought I did. My anxiety levels were starting to rise, but it wasn’t completely out of control.

KEEP_CALM_635084562334540000_jpg

A month out, the daily grind of waking up and studying all day was starting to wear on me. It was like reliving all the worst parts of law school without any of the breaks or socializing.

 

bar studying

 

 

At two weeks before the test it’s probably time for a nervous breakdown if you haven’t already had one. I didn’t shed any tears, but I did spend a whole day feeling sick and gave my husband the silent treatment when he dared suggest that the multiple choice portion of the bar exam couldn’t be any worse than the SAT.

are you serious

 

 

In the final week before the test, I alternated between complete apathy and utter despair.

not sure

eff this

 

The day before I took care of all the logistical details. including buying 2.5 gallon Ziploc bags to carry my laptop(!) in since apparently the Board of Law Examiners is worse than TSA. I was a little keyed up but managed to get a good night’s rest. Day 1 was a half day for the procedure & evidence short answer and the practical essay, which  I felt very well prepared for. Most of the questions coincided with my review so I was pretty confident at the end of the day.

 

tim-gunn-make-it-work

 

Day 2 was the MBE, which should stand for Most Blatant Evil. This was the multiple choice test that made me understand why so many people HATE multiple choice tests. Even the practice tests were hard. They’re super tricky even when you KNOW the law. And unlike the SAT, each question is its own separate fact pattern. And said fact pattern is sometimes so long that one question just about takes up an entire page. Although I made significant progress during bar prep, I honestly have no clue how I did. I couldn’t do anything but go home and hit a dramatic wall slide.

Wallslide-Cartoon

 

 

Day 3 was the state essays. Written tests are my forte because you can fudge your way through and still get points. It’s the old W.C. Fields strategy- “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull.” To put it in bar exam terms, make up a rule, throw in a dash of public policy and move on.

 

Razzle dazzle

Of course, 6 hours of feverish typing and thinking on the fly had me feeling like I was putting on a show.

mad men tapdance

The hardest part was managing my anxiety. I was so ready to be done that my nerves were shot and every little thing was irritating me. I had to call my husband and a law school friend on lunch break because my fellow bar takers were giving me homicidal urges. There’s always a few people who who take “dress for success” to an extreme conclusion and show up in a silk dress and pumps, or suit and tie. Then there are those who are either a) completely unbothered and feel the need to smugly announce how well they did; or b) completely freaking out. Either way, people from one or both camps will inevitably be sitting next to you or walking towards the exit with you on lunch break and making you want to punch them in the face.

stayoverthere

 

Finally, the test was over for real for real, and I had my life back. Or so I thought, since the bar examiner proceeded to keep us for another 30 minutes while the proctors painstakingly collected tests, counted tests, made us backup our tests to USB, etc. All very necessary things, but I didn’t want anything more than to be out of that room!

 
let my people go

 

And then it was done. I survived the bar exam! Let’s all pray that come November I’ll be Wifey, Esq.