Wednesday, April 06, 2005

How do I know if have it all together?

At what point to people actually get it together? There are some people I know who always had there life in order. They knew what they wanted to do for a living, they knew what sort of lifestyle they wanted, they worked a bit, and it came easily to them. There are other people who no matter what they try, life will always get in their way and mess up their plans. It's a tragedy because these people truly try hard, but they don't get the results they deserve. I am somewhere in the middle. To those around me, it seems to them as if I am a master goal setter. To them, I set goals, and I reach them just as fast as I set them. To them, I am ultra-disciplined; I am a quick dynamo who moves through life as a boat with a powerful engine moves up a heavy current. Yet personally, I know that my motors are not always on, and actually, most of the time my engines are off and I am floating down the river going the wrong direction.

Boat Floating Down the River
For example, today I am still at home at 5pm, and I should have gotten going this morning, yet I did not. When it came time to leave to go to class late this morning, I was just not in the mood. This morning, after getting a truly early night's sleep last night for the first time in months, I didn't want to get out of bed. This is the same story with so many parts of my life. With regard to getting a summer job, I should be getting my resume out to law firms. I should be contacting companies and going on interviews, but I simply am not in the mood. I certainly am not depressed, nor am I lazy. I just slow down sometimes and time keeps moving at its normal gallop. Figuratively at the end of the day, I always get everything together. By the end of the semester, I find a way to study and to do relatively well on my exams. At the closing of each chapter, I always have my stuff in order. It is just during the interim that I wonder whether I am really working at full capacity, or whether some of my engines have burned out because I am over-stressed.

The question is in its essence -- do I have my life in order? I will soon be finishing law school, and soon I will be studying to pass the bar exam. I believe I will pass on the first try. I will find a job, and I will find a wife. I will move out from my father's house, and I will be able to afford a home or an apartment of my own. There have been so many pursuits where I have taken the bulls by the horns, so to speak, and have entered the project with a blazing force. Whether I finish with the same ferocity is a different question, but I have always managed to pull my bootstraps up and move past the finish line. Even during this time, people see me and they think they see sheer confidence behind my eyes. But they don't know about the messes and the glitches that occur behind the scene before the organization kicks in and the machine powers up to cross the finish line.

Yet there is an order to the day I would like to have mastered. I would like to wake up early in the morning fully rested. I would like to pray, I would like to meditate, and I would like to exercise without needing to overcome any desires to pass on any of these experiences. I would like to have my clothes laundered, cleaned, ironed, and prepared, so that I will be able to move through the dressing stage without much thought. I would like to have my studies completed the night before, and I would like to have the food purchased and to have my meals and my vitamins prepared so that I will not have to spend precious minutes every morning thinking about what to eat and so that I will not need to prepare for the day's food consumption minutes before I must leave to school. Lastly, I would like to enter the shower in any state but the half-zombie state that I am in each morning, and I would like to move through the morning routine without giving it much thought.

Yet if you actually saw me in the morning, I am either like a mindless fool running in every direction trying to check off everything on my morning list, or I just do whatever I can and I the rest fall where it may. Sometimes I am so embarrassed by not getting everything done that I don't want to leave my house for the fear that I might smell, or that I won't have food to eat, or that I will be chastised in class by the professor for not being prepared. But I leave anyway, and I move through these terrible days half-prepared, and I hope that people do not notice the mess behind the surface. There are simply not enough hours in the day and there is simply not enough cash coming in on my law student budget to have the laundry prepared, the food purchased, the suits cleaned, among the million other things I need to do to keep the house in one piece. Something has to give. Living an organized and balanced life is an impossible way to live when you live a law school life.

Married friends joke around and say that I need a wife. While it would be nice to think that there might be some light at the end of the tunnel where I can partner with someone who will want to build a home and will want to take on the household responsibilities as part of her role of being the mother and the axis of the home, I back away from this wish because while most Chassidic (ultra-orthodox) women see their role as exactly this, it would be unfair to place this expectation on her if she made it clear that this role was not what she wanted in the marriage.

To allay any burdens, I prefer to find some way to get everything in order, but I haven't found a system that works well enough without having me as its fallibility factor. I design good organizational systems, but they depend on my actually doing things for it to work. I get so overwhelmed because I feel that while I am in law school and working many hours each week at a law firm without pay, it is physically impossible to get everything done. I take solace in the fact that in four weeks, my semester will end and everything will fall where it is. Then I will have a chance to pick up the fallen pieces of my life, and I will get the chance to clean my room, to do the laundry, to repair the rips and the tears in my clothes and in my mind, and to resume my schedule of checking goals off as fast as they are written down. I cannot wait for the semester to end so that I will be able to get a good book and to sit out in the sun and read for hours at a time. Even more so, I cannot wait for law school itself to end so that I can make decisions that will solidify my future, and that will allow me to build a family and a balanced home based on religious values rather than my current life which is guided by the whims of the law school.


ariadneK, Ph.D. said...

You don't sound like you're doing so hot in terms of your personal well-being, which obviously should come first and foremost over a career (which requires at least a minimal degree over your anxieties and such to begin with). Please read my email and get back to me.


Zoe Strickman said...

You're right, but what gave you that idea? I thought this blog entry was one of my more boring ones; with the exception of me deciding not to go to classes today, this has been the story of my life since law school began. For a while, I considered hiring a helper to take care of those details, but I couldn't find anyone.

These pressures and time constraints I discuss came with my law school experience. Everyone told me not to let it get the best of me, but I suppose it has. Nevertheless, the semester is finished in a few weeks and I am in my last year. As they say, "this too shall pass." Hopefully soon I'll find a firm and a field within law that fits my personality type, and my law school experience will have been but a bad memory.