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fuzzy future

February 17, 2007

as usual, insomnia had me up around 6:30 AM with nothing productive done four hours later since my eyes burned from lack of sleep but my brain buzzed too much to allow any pleasant pillow time. i gave up.

i read a book instead called Full Disclosure about law school and lawyers. after turning the last page, a question churned in my mind: is this what i want?

here’s the situation: i’m not ready for the real world yet. i don’t want a full-time job. i like to learn and it feels like i should take advantage of this age and time to do as much of that as possible. i also want to leave ohio and become more sophisticated about my world and environment. i like big cities. graduate school of some sort on the east coast seems the obvious answer. i meandered through undergrad doing what was easiest and most enjoyable for me, english and psychology. obviously, my future career choices are narrowed by that unless i want to go back to undergrad for more. those who pursue english have a bright future in the food and service industry, and i can’t see myself as a psychologist/psychiatrist considering my own issues. nor do i want to do tedious psych research. so those are out.

obviously part of why i chose law had to do with what i’m good at. i like to write. i’m a thorough and knowledgeable researcher, able and willing to search through articles, books, etc patiently and cognizant of my resources. i like to argue for my points. i enjoy looking over a finished papers and seeing how logically i’ve formulated my argument. i’m actually not a bad speaker once i stop thinking about it. i can be funny.

then there are less admirable reasons. i grew up in a family of doctors, and indian doctors at that. they make a lot of money, and really only consider professional (business, law, medicine) careers as “real” jobs. musicians, travel agents, car salesman, comic book artist—all are not really considered as respectable or respect-worthy. such is the elitism of my family and indians alike. i believe such a view is completely incorrect while at the same time, having been brain-washed all my life, still want to pursue one of these professional options. obviously part of it is wanting my family’s approval and pride. plus, i am an intellectual elitist, as are my parents. i think anyone who has always pursued academics and does go to undergrad and grad school would have to be. hence my desire to do something that displays more of my brain (because it’s what we deem as important) than maybe graphic design would (another option i was thinking about in highschool).

things that other people consider doing never seriously cross my mind. taking a year off, doing odd jobs like working a cruise ship for a year or joining the peace corp all sound exciting and colorful (adjectives i feel are missing from my own life). i really respect the spontaneity and, to me, courage it takes to delay career/financial stability and marriage deadlines. obviously the family wouldn’t approve of such off-roading. and maybe it’s the fact that i am so very sheltered even at the age of 21, but i can’t even imagine being able to handle all the new experiences and responsibilities of those endeavors. they seem surreal. i feel like a baby and this baby seems to think going the straight and easy route is the safest solution.

well this book is telling me that this isn’t the easiest route—ever. i mean yes i’m not so dumb as to think law school will be a breeze and that i’ll somehow be the exception to the rule of 70-80 hour work weeks. i guess i just expect that it’s going to be worth it. but what if it isn’t? what if the career isn’t as fulfilling as i expect it will be, need it to be, and as some of the contributors to the book warn it won’t be?

i know that i’m capable of hard work. i know i care about issues and people. i know i’m capable of great passion for a cause i believe in. i need to be needed, to have people come to me for my help and my expertise. i want to feel, for once in my life, that i’m doing something useful. i want to do work which uses my intelligence, and yes, i do want people to admire me for it.

at the same time, i don’t know if i’m a work-a-holic. i’m choosing a career that for many people is their one and only in life. i think that in a way i did this consciously, because something more surreal to me than stepping off the beaten path is marriage and children and friends. between looking at my parents’ life and witnessing my own personal problems, i can’t imagine anyone wanting to marry me. i can’t imagine being adult enough to have children. i can’t imagine having a solid social network with parties and barbeques and tennis dates and vacations with other couples.

by surreal i don’t mean i don’t want these things. if you know anything about me by now, it’s that i want these things more than anything else. i also want a career, but i’m choosing the one where, just in case all that stuff doesn’t happen, then at least i have my job to give me fulfillment. don’t get me wrong, in the back of my head, i’m still looking at the male-to-female ratio at law schools, remembering melodic girl and boys names, and looking at locations where there’s lots to do with friends. i can’t not do that, but i’m also getting myself deeper and deeper into a commitment to a draining career.

i have what seems like a nice picture of my future sans marriage and extensive social circle: less office work and more litigation. i’m interested in “doing good”so i expect to join a public interest, or at the very least private firm that strongly pushes pro bono work. i’ll lose some cases, but there will be the conviction that the world is a little bit better for me being on it. i’ll have a dog; not one of those yappy drop-kick types, but a big, real dog. maybe a cat too. i’ll have a nice apartment downtown with nice things inside. one room will be a library. i’ll have an amazing entertainment system and ridiculously soft leather couches on which to watch my extensive DVD collection. i’ll always have fresh flowers in a vase. the walls will be covered with hand-picked artwork. there’ll be a crazy neighbor i’ll alternative be amused and annoyed by. i’ll be a wine connoisseur. i’ll have my own favorite coffee spot and restaurant where people know my order or save the best table for me. i’ll join a book club and relax at the same favorite music bar or club every weekend and order my “regular” drink, something sexy and obscure. i’ll meet attractive men and have great sex if not great relationships. i’ll go on business trips often, and every now and then have time to go on vacations to europe, asia, or islands i’ve fleetingly heard of like tahiti or fiji. i’ll collect something from all of them. statues, jewelry, currency—something. i’ll stay close with my family and go home to celebrate holidays. in my mid-to-late 30’s, maybe i’ll adopt a child or two from asia. i’ll start family traditions for them to carry out, like buying one special christmas ornaments every year or having a family night every week. i might eventually teach law or write a novel. or both.

so the big question is, is this picture possible and fulfilling enough not to throw myself off a building when i hit forty? because i’m banking on it.

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