[on failing the bar]

Yesterday was bar results day. At promptly 4:30 PM, results were posted on the state's website by seat number. I raced home from work, ran upstairs, and pulled up the website.

It took a few tries but eventually the page loaded. I hit Control + F, typed in my seat number and there it was.


I didn't pass the bar.

My first reaction was shock. Everything stopped. Time stopped. My heart stopped. My mind went blank. I couldn't hear. I couldn't see anything but that word & my seat number next to it.

My second reaction was disbelief. I hit refresh and tried again. It was still there. But that couldn't be. How could that be? There was something wrong. They made a clerical error. There's no way.

But it was true.

Reality hit me like a freight train. All the sudden everything came back and became intensely real. It was like a movie where the camera zooms in rapidly on a character's face when they realize that someone just plunged a knife into them. The horrible awful crushing weight of that word and the reality that came with it hit me like a knife in the heart.

I lost it. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed some more. If I hadn't been sitting I would have collapsed because everything left me in that instant. How??

After everything I went through. After all the waiting and all the studying and all the hard work. How?


I still don't have a clear answer to that question.

But there are a few things I do know.

One: if this had to happen, it couldn't have happened at a better time. I have friends whose jobs & futures depended on these results. Mine doesn't. I wasn't hired to be a lawyer. My job doesn't require bar admission. There are hundreds of opportunities within my own company, none of which require me to be a licensed attorney. Job wise, it only closes a few doors. It certainly doesn't close all or the majority of them. I won't lose my job. My future won't be drastically limited. Sure being admitted to the bar would have been a huge boost. But it's not like the ceiling slammed close on me. Yes I'll have to work full time while studying for the second go-round. But that's okay. My job doesn't require overtime or crazy hours. I work 7-4, five days a week. That's it. While it's not overly simple, it's not overly taxing either. So I'll be okay.

Two: I am loved. Very much loved. Sure everyone gets excited and likes happy social media updates. But what happens when the news isn't good? That's when you find out just how loved you really are. And in the past less than 24 hours I've been overwhelmed with such a heartfelt wave of support that sometimes it makes me teary eyed. From simple texts to Facebook messages to phone calls, it's been an eye-opener to see just how much people really genuinely care. People have rallied around me and I can't even begin to put into words how much that's meant to me. No one's sneered. No one's been condescending. I have yet to feel judged or looked down upon. It makes me want to return to the Baltimore-DC area all that much faster, just to be nearer to these amazingly supportive friends who still love me, even when I fail. Of course there's been amazing support from other camps too, from family and family friends with kind words, Bible verses, and personal tales of their own shortcomings.

Three: There isn't one factor that explains why I failed. It's not just that I didn't study. It's not that simple. There was a lot going on in my life at that time. To be honest, it was a terrible time in my life even without the added pressure of the bar. I won't go into detail here. But things were not good and I was under a great deal of stress from other factors. Could I have studied harder? Probably. But that's not the whole story. I'm not passing blame to these external factors; some were very much self-manufactured. But the truth is, I didn't fail because I'm lazy or stupid. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Four: I didn't really fail. Yes, I failed this test. But that's not a reflection on me as a person. There's so much pressure put on young law students and you're lead to believe that this test defines you. This is your future. How you do on this test is a direct reflection of you as an individual. But that's not true. Yes it's important. I don't want to underplay the importance of the test. You can't practice law and you can't call yourself a lawyer until you pass the bar and are sworn in. So it's not some silly little test that can be disregarded. But it's not the vaunted mythical thing the profession makes it out to be. It doesn't define you. It doesn't make or break you. Maybe it sets you back another six months in your chosen career path. But you're far from broken and defeated. You can always try again. More importantly, your ability to answer multiple choice questions and write essays doesn't reflect on who you are personally. Often times we act like it does. We act like not passing the bar means you're somehow lesser than those that passed the first time through. But that's simply not true. Your legal education is still valuable. YOU are still valuable.

I will try again. It still hurts now. I still feel a sharp pain in my chest where that knife went in from time to time. My throat still gets tight when I think about it. But that will ease as time goes on. This isn't the first time I've been badly hurt and I know I've survived worse blows in my life. So I know I'm going to survive this one too. I will walk into work Monday with my head high. I am no lesser a person now than I was before I found out my results. Maybe I'm even more now. Because now I've found that resolve that's been missing lately. I've tapped back into the strength that resides within me and I remember clearly all that I have accomplished. Honestly I feel stronger and more assured than I have in a long time. I know it's counterintuitive. But there it is. Maybe this is my element, where I'm at my best. Maybe when life pushes me down is when I find myself again. I'm going to be okay. I'm going to regroup and I'm going to get through this. This is not where my story ends.

So I wanted to say thank you to each and every one of you. I love every single person that has supported me. You mean the world to me. Just know that with you in my heart and your strength behind me, I'll move forward, past that ugly word and the implications it carries with it.

1 comment:

  1. OMGosh am I ever the most proud mother in the world. I love you beyond belief! You have a strength I don't... So very thankful God gave you to me!! Love you with all my heart!!