Fighting To Be Better Than Where I Came From

This weekend, I had some fun asking people the various reasons why they went to law school. As can be appreciated, the answers varied drastically, from people who went to law school to fight for the little guy, to people who just didn't know what they could do with their polisci degree. 

We all have a different path that led us to law school, something that nudged us into this life. For me, it was a desire to be better than where I came from. I was the first person in my family to even get a university degree. I was the product of teenage pregnancy, adopted and raised by alcoholics, and I spent my high school years with my small town's eyes on me - always watching to see if I'd pop out a baby and restart the cycle. 

So I got the fuck out of there. Moved across the country and took out loans to attend a decent school in another province. Fought tooth and nail to get into law school. Took out more loans. And away I went. 

Now I'm 25, 2 full years out of law school, and childless at a time in my life where, in comparison, my Dad had 3 kids. And I still live across the country. 

I worry about those of us who went to law school for selfish reasons - when we leave that angry part of ourselves behind, will we still enjoy what we do? I have found that working as a lawyer - the actual practice of law, not the study of it - is immensely rewarding to me as a person and I truly love my job. And I love it even though I've left that angry piece of myself behind and no longer need my JD to validate that I am a better person than the woman who birthed me. But I am a statistical outlier; I stayed at the same firm I started at, and am actually doing work I elected to do. 

The truth is that many of my counterparts take jobs not in their preferred field, often in order to just keep a paycheque coming in. And the longer you stay on that path away from where you wanted to be, the harder it is to exit that highway. It's hard to make a jump from being a personal injury lawyer to criminal defence when you've been practicing exclusively in personal injury for the last five years. 

And all of this really begs the question, is risking putting ourselves down the wrong path really worth it because we were angry at our shitty childhoods? Is it worth it just to say an English degree wasn't completely worthless? 

I don't really have an answer to this. Except maybe to say that law school is more expensive than a therapist. 

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