I’m Still Alive But I Am Barely Breathing – My First Year In Law School Experience: A Life Update

Yes, that line from the song Breakeven of The Script perfectly summarizes my status now after my first year in law school. But before going any further let me just say that it feels so good to be back into blogging again!

It’s been almost 8 months since my last post and I feel so ecstatic to be finally posting something again but also feel sorry for not keeping up with my promise on my last post that I will still post updates about my bookish life or this and that of law school. Law school literally drowned me and took its toll on me. I expected it to be hard but I did not expect it to be this hard. And believe it or not this is the first time after my last update that I opened my WordPress account again.

So I’ve made it through my first year of law school. So you might ask, how was my first year as a law student. To say that it’s hard, frustrating, tiring is a trivialization. But despite all that, I will say that being in law school is very rewarding. My first year in law school was a roller coaster ride. A roller coaster ride that had a lot of sharp twist and turns. Gladly, I kept my grip tight and survived my first year. Like a warrior, injured but still would want to go on and fight. I only finished first year but I feel like something has changed within me. I would like to think that that’s the effect of being in a law school.

Hard. Well nothing is actually easy in this world some would say and yes they are right. But in my almost three decades of existence in this world, law school, dear law school, gave me a new definiton of the word “hard”. I’ve never felt so pressured in my life. I remember during the first semester when I found myself lost on what to prioritize first from all the subjects that I have and the looming laborious workload. There’s that time constraint and you’re mind is divided being your work and school (I work full time during the day and attend law school with full load during the night). There’s that feeling that you want to just quit working and just focus with your studies but you realize you can’t do that because you have finances to pay.

Here’s my daily routine: Everyday I wake up at 4:45 AM to prepare for my 6 AM work. I don’t eat breakfast at home. I eat breakfast in the office during my first 15-minute break. There were those moments during my first few weeks in law school that I wish I am still living with my parents. After graduating from college, I’ve moved here in the city to look for a job and have since settled in here. I long for those times when there’s already food in the table after I wake up. After starting law school, it became impossible for me to wake up early just to cook.

Work starts at 6 AM. Depending on the volume of work, I can squeeze in a little reading here and there if we have less volume but if there’s really a lot of things to do, I can just hope and pray that whatever I’ve read the previous night and on the way to school will be enough for me to fight for the battle ahead. I am so blessed to have understanding bosses and workmates who understands me whenever I am late or have to file for a leave on a short notice or during those moments when my mind is somewhere else and I can’t keep my focus because of stress and lack of sleep.

I get off from work at 3 PM. I should waste no time as every second counts. My travel time from work to office is around 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on the status of traffic. There’s no time to waste so I read on my way to school. And because reading thick books and reading papers while standing and your bus is stuck up in traffic is a hard feat, I had to find a way to read. What I do is I convert my files to PDF and used it to my phone to read. Upon reaching school, if I still have some time to spare I go directly to the library and read there.

Classes end at 9 PM. Depending on how the stressful the day was and our subject the next day, if we can still spare some time, me and friends usually go eat and talk about our day and just joke around easing out the stress of the day. Going home takes another 1 hour and 30 mins. So I am usually at home around 10:30 PM. As much as I would like to sleep because I have been awake for almost 18 hours already, I still have to study. The pull of my reading desk is much harder to resist than that of my bed. There’s always that fear of what if I will be called the next day and what I will read now is the question that will be asked tomorrow. On a regular day I sleep at around 12:00 MN. But of course that is not always the case. If the temptation to sleep is really that strong, I just give in and just hope, hope and hope that the stars of luck will be on my side the next day. And once you wake up, there’s that feeling of guilt. So that’s my schedule during the weekday. If you think that I have the weekends to myself, of course no. I have half-day class on Saturday and on Sunday, as much as I would like to spend the whole day sleeping, I have to prepare for the next week’s battle. In short, everyday is a struggle.

Learn to prioritize.

Frustrating. During my first year of law school the most frustrating thing I experienced would probably be being called during recitation for a topic that you’ve read and memorized by heart but hello mental block, hello doomsday and that feeling after an examination knowing that you could’ve done better. After all the things you’ve sacrificed just to read and study only be be defeated by mental block is definitely a nightmare and it happened to me a couple of times. I realized that it’s something that you can get away with when you’re in law school. There’s no time to dwell on what happened during that recitation where you wished the world could just swallow you alive out of shame for being ridiculed in front of the class. You have no choice but to move on, study hard, pray that you’ll be better next meeting.

I also learned that art of declining to outings and movie invitations from my friends and company team buildings and parties. I also neglected my bookish life. I am no longer up to date with what book has just been released or who are the debut authors that other bookworms are expecting to be great. I am totally left out with the latest bookish news. The time that I allotted before to doing all these stuffs were spent reading and mastering chapters and chapters of pages of multiple books which is aside from the cases that you’ll have to analyze and relate with the topic.

Forgive yourself.

Tiring. Before classes even started alot of people said that I will no longer have that hard time adjusting in law school because I am already a bookworm and that I am already used to reading, considering that being a law student requires one to read, read and read. That aspect of law school will no longer be an issue. Well yes, it helped in a way but it took me a while to totally adapt. Here’s the thing, I am not used to reading nonfiction books. In law school, reading that I used to consider before as a leisure became a chore. Plus add those sleepless night that are mentally draining.

Take a moment to relax.

Rewarding. The best thing for me in being in law school, aside from the everyday learning that I was able to get, is the new friends that I was able to gain. I remember one of our profs telling us that you can’t be alone in your law school journey and from which I totally agree. I consider myself as an independent person and to be honest when I entered law school I planned on becoming a solitary soul who’ll be in this journey alone. But fate must have a different plan on me because I meet these amazing people who I consider now not just as friends but an extension of my family.

Diverse as we are, we share the same passion and dreams. It’s feels so good to be surrounded with people who have the same goals with and who pushes you when you almost want to give up. People who can be both your critique and supporter depending on what is needed. People who understands and experiences the same hardships like what you are going through. People whom you can share the burden with and whom you can just laugh with your epic moments in law school. People who genuinely cares about you and supports you. People who let’s you take part on their special occasions despite only knowing you for a couple of months. And people who treats you like a real brother and sister. I always consider myself lucky that I was able to meet them. They played a big role why it was able to stay sane after all that I’ve been through during my first year.

There’s nothing greater when you get to celebrate every milestone during your first year with your friends that have been through the same. There’s nothing more rewarding that seeing that you passed a subject you thought you’ll fail. When you’re hadships paid off. That’s one thing that we learned, cherish every moment. Celebrate the small triumphs. Also take time to relax once in a while. Stop when you’re exhausted. Take a breather. Watch a movie or tv series that you’ve been wanting to watch. Date. Treat yourself after a good recitation or examination. In our group, we usually (no not usually, always) eat and treat ourselves to a good food.

If you’ll ask me, if it’s hard why am I still doing all this? The answer is, it’s because this is my dream. I am fueled by this dream that someday I will become a lawyer. This is a childhood dream that I have forestalled for a while and now that I am already here there’s no turning back now. This is the price that I have to pay for my dream. I am willing to take risks and sacrifices for this dream. There’s a need to strategize, be focused and limit procrastinating (which I am very much guilty of doing).

Law school is a process. I am just in my first year but I was tested mentally, physically and emotionally. Well I guess, that’s really the main purpose of law school, isn’t it? To help us look at situations differently now and to train future lawyers to be tough and resilient.

In law school everyone is equal. Regardless of your academic standing in your undergrad courses or your economic status or your achievements in life. It’s a battle as to who’s more determined and passionate. It’s a battle as to who has the endurance and ability to bear humiliation. No preparation is enough. Expect the unexpected. Everyone needs patience and diligence as everyone else.

I am lucky I am given this opportunity to study and I will always be thankful for that. I just finished my first year and I know I still have a long way to go. If you are reading this and you are also planning to enter law school, give it a shot. Pray for it. Everything that might appear as advice were based on my personal experiences as a first year student. Each law student has its own experience of law school during their first year and I am excited to hear about yours too soon.

If others can, why can’t you. Try. ♥

8 thoughts on “I’m Still Alive But I Am Barely Breathing – My First Year In Law School Experience: A Life Update

  1. Brilliant! Glad to see you’re not only surviving but thriving.
    I was wondering how you were just the other day and I’m so glad to see this post come up in my feed.
    2 words? Keep going.


  2. Wow, your schedule sounds so exhausting, but so rewarding as well. Congrats on making it through your first year in law school and I’m glad you’ve got a good group of people around you along the journey. Enjoy it and find some time to relax in between everything. Good luck with your second year. I’m sure you’ll ace it. 😀


  3. Congrats on hurdling your first year in law school. And glad to hear from you again. Maybe the next time we hear fro you, you’ll be reviewing Law Books. Haha. Just kidding 🙂


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