The reluctant lawyer

This letter writer just graduated from law school but she’s feeling too overwhelmed to start her internship. Take it step by step, says our elder. You can do this.


Dear EWC

Hello! I’m a 24-year-old girl from El Salvador. I wanted to ask for your advice because I have been feeling hopeless lately. Well, I’m stuck in this phase of my life. You see, I just graduated from law school, which wasn’t my first choice to be honest. At the time I wanted to study international relations or physics but there weren’t any options for studying them at the universities I could afford. Well, now I’m just stuck because I haven’t started my internship to get authorized by the government to be able to work. 

So, here’s the problem. I do not want to because I do not want to work as a lawyer. I know it may be a waste of resources and all that but I need to explain my reasons. First of all, just know that I live in a poor country and I haven’t had some accommodations others had. Which is okay, in the materialistic way. What I wanted to say is that I know I need professional help but I can’t afford to seek it so I struggle with it a little bit. I’ve had some depressive episodes a couple of times through the years since I was 13 and I suspect I may have some neurological disorder but I can’t afford to get checked out to understand what’s wrong for now. I’m saying this so you know some things may be a bit harder for me. I haven’t received any help or support from anyone because I never show it and even if I do, they don’t believe me because I am the perfect student. The cum laude alumni. Yep, I got that recognition and you know what I felt when I received it? Like I wanted to cry because for me it doesn’t mean anything else than putting a stupid grade over my mental health. The whole graduation day I just wanted to cry because I just wanted to die but nobody noticed it. And now I’m stuck. I don’t have any friends as you may deduct from being here looking for strangers to listen to me. What I need help with is what I should do. How can I find motivation when all I want is to lie somewhere and withered away? How could I find my place if I don’t have the energy to even try? I just want to know how do I find my own path to follow or at least how do I force myself to plan a good future or just an escape route to a safe place. I wouldn’t mind if I’d have to sacrifice my mental health again just while I get to a safe place but I don’t find the motivation to even plan it. I know you may find this letter complicated so I’m sorry and thank you for your patience. I needed to vent. Again, thanks for the patience.


Shorty replies

I am so sorry that you are struggling with hopelessness and sadness at this time. Even though I am a stranger to you, I am no stranger to what you are going through and have offered advice to hundreds of people either stuck in life where they are or looking for a career which fulfills them. I promise to do my very best for you, too.

I can see that you are overwhelmed, feeling that the career you were directed to is not the one you want to pursue. My life experience which includes three very different careers over 50 years has taught me that an education like the one you received is never wasted in life. This is true whether you practice law for five minutes or 50 years. The fact that you graduated at the top of your class in law school tells me that not only are you very smart, but you have skills in perseverance, organization, and determination which will be valuable in making you a success at whatever you do. Not only that, you take pride in doing your best in spite of being less than passionate about the tasks at hand. So, I don’t believe that you are wasting your educational resources if you choose a career path at all. The only problem is that you have lost your confidence in yourself which makes it difficult to justify a change in direction. I have every faith  that you can do anything with your life that you choose if you have faith as well.

Even here in the US students graduate and feel the same stresses that you are feeling. I understand that there is possibly more economic pressure in El Salvador, but so many students here are financially buried with student loans that I feel your situation is likely comparable. So, I will tell you what I tell them. You have an entire life in which to work – do not think that if you start a job with your current credentials that you will be doing this the rest of your life. However, this does require patience and some discipline, which I believe you have. My advice is to go ahead and do your internship and qualify as a lawyer so that you can begin to earn an income. As soon as you are financially able, look for an online university or college where you can begin to explore international relations (having a law degree would be a big plus for this) or physics, if that’s your preference. You may be able to use some of your college and grad credits to start further along in a degree program, no matter the area of study. This may take a five-year plan to achieve, but where would you be in five years if you don’t do this? It is much easier today to find educational options thanks to the internet – please see if you have any choices here that you haven’t considered.

The same advantage of the internet is available for help with your overall mental health until your income will support a local therapist. There are many free support groups which can help you feel less alone and less sad. Although they cannot offer professional evaluations, talking about what you have written with others going through the same struggles can be illuminating and comforting. Many of these organizations are international. Just doing a bit of research has led me to believe that El Salvador does not offer much in the way of government-sponsored mental health assistance unless you have private insurance – another reason to take a job as a lawyer temporarily, if law firms offer benefits of insurance. Perhaps you have access to some regular general medical care. If so, a physician might be able to evaluate you physically and help you with some supportive care, too. But, try reaching out to the online support you find in some of these legitimate groups.

So, I am helping you with the plan for which you are struggling to move on. Trust me – you have come this far, and you are strong enough to get up and go farther. Get authorized to work in law. Save every cent you can to take online courses at night while you work in law to earn an income. Regain your energy as you realize you can do this. Explore the possibilities of what you have a passion for. Let go of any guilt you feel about your law degree and become what you want to become. You have a life and talents, and it’s not a waste to spend it learning and doing and reaching for what you desire. Be kind to others in all you do, and you will have friends throughout your life. You are just as special as everyone thinks you are – own it.

Take this step by step so it is not overwhelming. Once you can see the possibilities, your energy and passion will come back in full force. Eat healthy, get plenty of sleep (even when you are studying), and go on a walk or a run daily to get out in the world and to allow your body to destress. I know at first this may feel like a lonely road, but you are never alone. The people who truly care about you (including me) want you to be well and do well and find your passion – we understand. The voices of doom or dismay in your head may occasionally object, but your courage and belief in yourself can talk louder. Everything that you’ve shared above confirms that you can do this.

Wow, sorry for the long pep talk, but I am truly sincere in my confidence in you. I would love to know how you are doing in a few months or so. Until then, I wish you the best that life can offer.

Article #: 482331

Category: Self-Improvement

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