Wow, is it really the end of the first week of law school? Man. That went by quickly. And well, I think! Mistakes were made, but lessons were also learnt, and I guess that’s what I signed up for, right?
And because I’m a former civil servant, I’m going to do a 3-2-1 to round off.
Three Things I Liked and Will Continue
1) class participation
Compulsory or not, being in a forum of discussion again after so long is a breath of fresh air, and something I now realise I missed intensely. When you’re working, most of the things you talk to your colleagues about — when you have time to talk to your colleagues — are also either about the work before you (because it’s driving you nuts) or about anything except work (because it’s driving you nuts). Contemplation, theorising, and discussing first principles are luxuries of time and privileges of space.
I’m definitely not going to let them go to waste. Going to keep getting stuck in, as much as I can.
2) meeting people
There’s something about not having a dress-code and not answering to a hierarchy that makes it so much easier to talk to people. I’m not the friendliest, most networkingest person around (quite the opposite, I’m sure those of you who know me would say), but I still seem to have managed. Age doesn’t seem to be as much of a barrier as I was expecting when I first joined up as a thirty-year-old ‘undergraduate’: it’s partially the looks, but I think mostly the newness of things that keep conversations fresh and easy. Everyone’s doing something new, everyone’s out of their comfort zones… nobody’s really got anything to lose.
A special shout-out to the GLB people. We’re older, we’re slower, but I’m really glad that we’re finding a natural bond, even if that’s only because of conscious self-segregation sometimes. So far I’m getting a really great vibe — cooperative rather than competitive — and I hope we can maintain that.
Well. I guess unless you’re pretentious. I’m trying very consciously not to be. Every time I hear my voice get deeper and feel my eyes drift to the distance as I begin to pontificate, I stop myself. It’s also important not to be a ‘topper’: with this much under my belt, it’s probably not hard to quash anyone’s narrative with an “OH YEAH WELL I TOTALLY DID THIS THING THAT’S MORE AUTHENTIC/AWESOME THAN WHATEVER YOU DID NYAH” story. Sometimes, not sharing too much is also sharing: you’re sharing time and space with other people to give them a chance to develop their voices and images.
3) healthy living
I’ve been getting more sleep and eating more healthily. Once my bum leg recovers I also look forward to getting more exercise. This is probably my last chance to whip myself into something resembling a shape that doesn’t inspire pity at best and disgust at worst.
Two Things I’ll Improve On
Usually in class, I’ve seen two reactions so far. There’s the undegraduate reaction to anything the teacher says, which is “this is totally new and I’m totally lost”. And there’s the GLB (Graduate Law Bachelors — ie. me and mine) reaction, which is “this isn’t new, I know something about this, but it turns out I’m wrong anyway”.
The tendency is to assume that because it doesn’t sound new, that it isn’t: that whatever spot it tickles in my brain is the right spot, and that whatever knowledge I can bring to bear on a particular issue is relevant. That’s a dangerous complacency, and I really ought to get better at dialing it down.
I mean, I guess I know a lot of stuff, but if I knew all of this stuff, I wouldn’t need to be here.
I think I’ve been pretty good at organising myself so far, but that’s not saying much because my standards are utter rubbish in this area. So there’s always room for improvement. So far I’ve been able to keep abreast of things through relentlessly pestering people and feigning with-it-ness. I’m committing to get less needy and more independent in staying abreast of things, hopefully to the point where I can start being an asset to people around me instead of a liability.
One Thing I’ll Stop Doing
1) trying to coast through lessons on my laptop
I tried it this week, downloading all my readings and notes in pdf, and trying to do the whole “I.T. Startup, Paperless Office” thing. It doesn’t work for me, period. Even though one of the undergraduate girls was giving me the stinkeye in the library today, muttering about how environmentally unfriendly I was being, I’m going to print everything out from now on. I’m not a teenager any more; I can afford the money and the storage space, and if I need the tactile aids of paper and highlighter and moving pen, then by God I’m going to have them.
Sometimes, the old ways are best.