… albeit with Lethargy
A couple of months ago, I quit a good paying job simply because I was not seeing the proportional result of my input. This was not my first time of doing this. I have realized over time that I get super weary in situations where I cannot refer to a tangible outcome of what I do – whatever that is. In my head, it should be easy for a person to ascertain the result of their action by the intentionality they put into it. I work a lot with a ‘if…then’ mindset and it is this mindset that informed my lethargy at one of the supposedly most important ceremonies of my career/life.
It’s weird that I do not have an article on my Law School and Bar Exam on my blog. Sometimes, I think that that should have already signaled my weariness of the legal education system, but now that I have been Called, I think it’s a nice time to talk about my experience.
Law School was in Yola! And I really loved Yola Campus – and Yola town, mostly because of the Yola people. The weather in Yola is super extreme (which, for me, is so admirable because whatever is worth doing is worth doing well. Yeah?) I remember getting posted to Yola and having a couple of people worry about me. Apparently, on the grand scale of things, the Yola campus was not apt to assist me in making a superb result. But I went to Yola anyway, and met my amazing and awesome lecturers. Apart from the fact that they made it almost unnoticeable that the campus is way understaffed and infrastructurally disadvantaged, they also cared genuinely about our success.
I really had great plans in Law School. I was going to come out with a first class and make myself very proud. I knew that to do that, I’d have to be really serious with studying. I knew I had to be diligent and extremely focused. I knew I had to take my classes seriously and push myself more than I did in the University (lol… I DID NOT push myself in my University.)
I did all of that. I cannot even look back at my law school routine and say, ‘Oh crap, I should have done more of this!’ I was so extra. This was more so because at that time, I was on the edge of a bad emotional breakdown and I convinced myself that the only way to not fall off that cliff and into a waterfall of sorrow, was to hang on tightly to legal concepts and drafts upon drafts of court processes. I knew that my brain could only take so much and if I did not want it running haywire, I’d have to fill it up with boring academic stuff.
I did just that. The Bar Examination was serious business for me because I knew that it would test all of my studying. I still have my voice recordings on my phone – me advising me to not fear; me preaching to me to not worry; me telling me that all will be fine. Law school can mess with your head if you let it, and suddenly, you stop believing in yourself (and this is not the healthy kind of not-believing where you instead believe in God). I endeavored to avoid this by my almost ceaseless prayers and chanting of encouraging scriptures.
If you write an examination where in the middle of a paper, you may casually raise your hand and ask the invigilator for 2 Paracetamol pills and some water, then you may, maybe, understand what writing Bar Finals is like. I had so many mind games thrown at me – from the very unconsciously pre-planted mentality that the exams are as tough as MENSA tests, to the tension in the environment, to the reminder that you are as strong as your weakest course.
I’d like to take some time out to actually talk about this thing – this: ‘you are as strong as your weakest course.’
So, for those who do not know, here’s how the Nigerian Law School determines your overall grade. They mark your 5 papers and add up all your figures. Then they grade each course (e.g. A, B+, B, C, D, F).
After that, they sit back, eyes hovering over all your grades, and just when they are about to do the reasonable thing which is to calculate your average and grade you an overall, they think, ‘Nah. That’s too cliche. Why don’t we require perfection from this student even though we ourselves are not perfect. Why don’t we tell him that his entire academic standing in the Law School stands on his lowest result. Haha! This should be fun.’
So they put your result on a perforated tray and program the sieve to sift out all the good grades and leave the worst one(s) standing. After the sieving process, they smile and wear a glove. Picking out your most smelly grade, they lift it up in victory and satisfaction, and then paste it on your face (and also upload it on the internet).
They do not stop there. They then instruct you that your result is out and that you totally need to check it out! When you finally get to see your result, all you get to see is that most smelly piece of it. It then, truly becomes the entire definition of all of the effort you put into the examination. So you’re sitting in front of your computer or cellphone, nose scrunched up and thinking, ‘Wow… am I this smelly?’
Then, in case your mind bugs you and keeps nudging you to inquire deeper. In case your mind tells you, ‘I feel like there’s more to our result than this one pasted on our face’, then you can pay Law School some money and write an application letter demanding to see the full result. It will be produced to you, and then and only then can you fully appreciate your entire result.
I think this entire system of grading is what informed my lethargy yesterday. My ‘If…then’ mentality was challenged and it did not stand. Because to my mind, if I study hard enough, then I’d get the result I desire. I confess that I felt entitled, because you see, after applying for my result and seeing that Law School had sifted the entirety of my 4As and held my only B in victory to declare me a Second Class Lower student, I coiled into some unconscious I-Really-Don’t-Care-Anymore mode.
Somehow, I found myself being less and less fascinated at life and OTHER CONNECTED MATTERS (inside joke only for lawyers). For instance, I took a ridiculously small amount of money to purchase my wig and gown and Sarah had to complement it with her own money because I was not even budging. I refused to collect Invitation cards for my Call To Bar ceremony and even instructed my family to not show up at the ceremony. It did not even cross my mind to do a photoshoot with the attire. I did not do any makeup to the ceremony (lol. I had earlier in the week asked myself melodramatically, ‘Shall makeup make up for anything?’). I forgot my court shoes in Lagos. I wore some skirt I have owned for a long time, and a jacket I bought from a random Jacket trader in Yaba market (lol. The price was awesomely low). I only just ironed the rumpled jacket yesterday night with a Philips iron (and this was entirely dependent on whether PHCN would provide power).
I hate to think of myself as discouraged, but I fear that I became so. Somehow, I am seeing some fruits of this experience in the way I now approach other things in my life; with a defeatist mentality – even things only remotely connected to academics/career. I fear that I am becoming guarded in tackling challenges and in having audacious dreams. I fear that I am fearing failure; and at the same time fearing to try my hand at success because to me, ‘Failure is more tragic when it’s less probable. And it is less probable when it is more actively avoided’
But above all my fears, I’m really glad I figured this out. Because while this is my first real stint with ‘failure’, it is not my first time facing a situation that has tried to snuff out the awesome in me. I’m glad I am realizing this because it would have been so sad to have had this uncool experience and then have it ALSO ruin my cool life. It would be a real shame to face a tragedy and then allow it produce lethargy. I do not like to let bad experiences overstay their welcome. And a bad experience overstays its welcome when it begins to produce bad reactions, bad choices and even other bad experiences in the long run.
You see, I am certain that I would take out the very best from this experience because it’s what I always do. I regret my temporary phase of weakness – apparently, I’m still mastering the art of being perfect.
Oh, and by the way, many people have asked me to be grateful to God that I at least passed. Of course! This goes even without saying because my gratitude to God is not hinged on whether or not I get an expected grade. Generally, when I thank God, my joy in Him is in what He has done to my soul, how He has saved my spirit, how I have the promise of a new body (halleluyah!!!!). I thank God because He has done for me, what only He can do. Do you guys know that I was once dead in sins and trespasses? And that once, my payroll read, ‘death’ because I was to receive all of the wages of my sin? Do you know that I was headed towards damnation forever, to live with the devil in hellfire forever; that my spirit was enslaved to the devil and I could only do what he asked of me? Then I discovered that God came as the man Jesus, and lived on this earth blameless (by the way, do you know how hard that would have been?) and he laid down his life on a cross and shed the entire sum total of blood in his body. That in believing in what He did and accepting his sacrifice, I have been bought back as a Child of God. And that in His blood, I have the forgiveness of sins? Do you know that when I am asked to liquidate my payroll and receive my wages of death, Jesus’ blood speaks and says, ‘Nah… she already died through my death.’ Do you know that I am a citizen of heaven – just being an ambassador on earth here?
Yo… What is a shrunken 2:2?
Thank you Sarah and Great for your amazing company yesterday. You’re such cool company… even with a dead movie. I love you!!!