10. The Completely Uncertain and Brief Chronology to Bidding for Legal Firm Interviews

You know what’s terrifying? Seeing your life stretched out you in a single line. Seeing a life of conformity where you just get shoved into the lines along with everyone around you as if you were the same as a bunch of cattle. It’s terrifying to see the normal spectrum and range of lives that form the average standard of what people doing what you yourself are doing right now are expected to be doing in the future. This conformist life lends itself very well to many of those people and their wants and desires in life. This same conformity terrifies me.

Currently I’m in the process of ranking law firms for Early Interview Week (EIW). So Georgetown Law organizes this giant event for rising 2Ls (law students who have just completed their first year of law school and first summer of legal internships, typically) where the school brings in literally hundreds of law firms from across the country to come interview the current rising 2L students at Georgetown. These interviews are for summer internships that would occur between 2L and 3L; in other words, these interview are potentially for the only other internship a law student could get before moving out into the actual legal job market.

The way a lot of firms are working these days, if I understand correctly, is they hire interns for their 2L-3L summer and then at the end of the summer hire some of those interns on as full firm attorneys, provided they finish up their third year of law school strongly. This is terrifying for a number of reasons. Firstly, this timeline means that the firms I am interviewing for in a month and a half are potentially the firms that might hire me for a summer internship for next summer and subsequently have the option of hiring me on as post-law school. Essentially, EIW is an interview for not just an internship but also for an actual legal job as an attorney.

Currently I am going through the list of environmental law firms in D.C. and looking into which firms I should be bidding for. Essentially the bidding process allows participating law students to place a bid for whichever firm they want to interview with specifically. You have a bidding limit of 50 firms you can bid for.

I’ve currently narrowed down my search to firms that are only environmental firms in D.C., as I hopefully plan on staying in the D.C. area in the long term and have no intentions of leaving in the short term. As I’m going through these firms’ websites, I’m struck over and over again with how different every single one of them is from what I want to do. To be fair, I haven’t even managed to get through a quarter of them yet – and hopefully there are a few firms that might be good fits for me – but the environmental work most of these law firms seem to do just do not interest me in the least.

Part of the thing about EIW and interviewing for firms is that firms are not for everyone. Legal firms do specific things and have specific styles that don’t necessarily mesh well with a given individual’s personality. I very much suspect that I am one of those people. However, I don’t want to rule out the possibility and maybe I will find that firm life is actually something I really enjoy and I will simply through myself into it if given the chance. It’s hard to know without being somewhere whether or not you are actually a good fit for the situation.

I also realize now at this point how little I actually know about environmental law. I think my initial intuition – prior to even beginning law school – to pursue maritime law might have been a somewhat correct intuition. The sectors and fields under these law firms’ environmental areas have a lot to do with energy or chemicals or clean water or other such things. I’m in no way saying those things aren’t important. They are just things I have absolutely no interest in. And it’s scary to realize I have no idea how to get to a career I want to do, or even if such a career exists.

Bidding on these firms is just the first step in a whole process that may very well amount to absolutely nothing in terms of my life, but it could also end up being the first step in a process that decides the next several years of my career for me before I even fully understand what that career path entails. There is no learning like learning through experience, but even so, this whole process is definitely an anxiety-producing process that I cannot wait to be done with.

9. Afraid of Shadows

Are you afraid of your own shadow? Or do you embrace it?

Are you afraid of the person you’ve become? Do you reflect the darkness or the light?

Our intentions shine through in a multitude of ways, but whether or not those intentions become our actions is another matter altogether.

I’m ridiculously happy with who I’ve become and what my life has become. The shadow I cast behind me is one I am happy to see because it reflects exactly what I want it to. I feel that in and of itself is an accomplishment. When the map of your life is how you want it to look, you know you have been following the right path.

I know of at least a few people in my life who are currently in the process of reshaping their shadows. I think it can be done. To begin with, it depends on your light source. What kind of light and knowledge and spirit you surround yourself by is going to affect the quality of your shadow and how clearly you are able to cast it. If you surround yourself in darkness, inevitably your shadow is going to be marred in its form by the very lack of definition that surrounds its penumbra on all sides. The strongest inner light will create the best and strongest shadows, where the outlines of your life are clear and bold.

Of course, external circumstances also affect shadows. What material your shadow dances upon can greatly help or hurt it. If you are confident in the people in your life and the places you call your surroundings, it can only help. That’s not to say that uncertain surrounds can be bad materials for shadow casting. Sometimes, the most unknown circumstances can lead to the best results because they push your boundaries and push you to the very extentent of you who are. Regardless of what your surroundings are, just be aware that they can change the quality of your light. And if you don’t like the way your surroundings are changing your inner light, then change your surroundings or else guard close those things that are dear.

Beyond all else, you are the one who creates your shadow though. You are the one who influences it by controlling, or at least being aware, of all the factors that go into its very creation. If you know what kind of shadow you want to cast, you are the one with the tools to create the shadow you want.

So are you afraid of your own shadow? And if you are, how do you change it?


8. When Intentions Aren’t Enough

It’s harder and harder for me to feel like I’m keeping up with ballet and not falling far behind. Every day I don’t go to ballet class (even if that means I’m teaching or otherwise working) feels like a bit more of a failure to me. I’ve managed to get to the point where I almost detest going to easier classes because I take so few as it is that it feels like a waste to only take easy classes that don’t challenge me.

I want to perform so badly. I want to be dancing in a company and working hard in a studio so badly. If I’m not doing that, I don’t feel whole. I don’t feel like I’m accomplishing everything I’m capable of or everything I have the potential to do. That’s the life I love and am used to living and it’s too difficult to simply give that up.

Between law school and teaching ballet, my life has been taken over. I don’t really have many spare chunks of hours these days to go drive half an hour to a studio (they’re all half an hour away; I live in the epicenter of D.C. dance studios). I have a few such chunks of time that line up for when classes are offered, but that isn’t enough.

At this point, I’ve looked into so many options for continuing to dance with a company. I’m out of luck for a full, every-day company for this upcoming year but I do have a potential place or two where I will definitely be auditioning next year for their season. Otherwise, there is one place a city over where I could audition for their two shows a year, and I will definitely be doing that. They only have rehearsals on sundays so that is doable for me.

In general I can still do most everything I could before. But I can sense the places where I am getting weaker or less technical. It might be a small slip-up from not quite closing fifth at the barre or less consistent pirouettes. It doesn’t matter what that weakness is. What matters is I know it exists and I do my best to correct it but there is only so much you can do when you’re taking one or two classes a week. So much is muscle memory and stamina. Intention can only go so far.

This life I’m living is completely wonderful in so many ways. Actually dancing ballet is the one thing I’m missing. I’m doing my best to figure out how to incorporate that into schedules of law school classes and teaching and internships. But what if that intention to dance isn’t enough? It doesn’t feel like it’s enough right now. I’m just going to keep trying until it is enough to make that part of my life happen.

7. Oceans

Every now and then, the ocean draws me back to its very soul and I am reminded all over again why I had fallen in love with the seas in the first place. I feel, right now, embraced by the deep blue depths that both hide and reveal some of the greatest mysteries and wonders of this earth. What wondrous creatures lie below the waves most of us can only guess.

On days like today, all I want to do is run away to the edge of the ocean and never look back. I want to get scuba certified, which is something I have been dying to do for years now. I want to explore the sea and all its creatures. I want to spend my time below the waters’ edge, spending my time among the darting fish, silent gliding sharks, softly flowing kelp forests, and the vast array of strange and alien invertebrates that populate everywhere from the surface down to the ocean floor. I want to watch and observe in the stillness of movement from the invisible currents flowing past as animals go about their purposes in the ways they have evolved to perform.

There are days where I question my life’s choices that have led me to law school. Yes, my whole reason for being here is to save the oceans. My goal in life is to work on ocean conservation. I chose law school because lawyers are powerful; they can enact great amounts of changes and can influence issues far down the road and into the future. I want to be able to influence and make such changes for good. The oceans need protection from enemies on all sides and from indifferent parties who don’t know what harms they are causing through their indifference.

At the same time, by saving the seas from afar, I’m denying myself the opportunity to get to experience their vastness for myself. I thus far haven’t gotten the opportunity to get to explore even just the seaside for more than a few stolen weeks at a time.

I guess one of my goals over the next few years should be to figure out how to incorporate the actual oceans and their creatures into my life other than just reading about them and filling my apartment with shark posters and octopus salt and pepper shakers. How do you fit the whole ocean in? I already feel that I’m juggling so much at my baseload capacity that adding any interest or passion on top of it all simply seems suicidal.

At the same time, I can see a life full of the oceans. I just don’t know how to make that possible right now. I should clarify: I don’t know how to make an ocean-filled life possible right now while at the same time keep the rest of my life somehow balanced with all that I’m already trying to fit in.

Did you know certain jellyfish can rejuvenate in a sort of immortality? Did you know that sharks can’t develop cancer? Did you know that giant squid can only surface in colder waters, because otherwise they’ll suffocate? There are so many more mysteries to the oceans than just these. I want to be able to explore those mysteries for myself.

I did apply at one point for a position as an aquarist. Just to be around marine creatures every day, up close and in person, would be a dream come true. Sometimes I still think about that. I do have a bachelor’s degree in biology. What if, after law school, I apply for a master’s program in marine biology? Where would that put me, other than in a lot more student loan debt? What would that entail for my future and my life? On the other hand, how could I instead directly incorporate the oceans or marine life into my life without dropping everything I’ve lined up so carefully? Could I just travel to the ocean on diving trips once a year? What other options are out there for me to explore?

The deep blue-green soul of the world is mesmerizing. It’s captivating. There is so much wonder to be found as long as we humans don’t end up killing it all. We are well on the way to doing so, unfortunately. Between ocean acidification and warming and vast amounts of overfishing and polluting, we are already doing immense amounts of harm that are leading to almost-imminent desertification of the oceans. I think one of the main reasons for such harm is that it is very difficult to educate people on what harms their actions are directly causing. Because ocean ecosystems are all hidden below glassy, mirrored surfaces, they – and everything that impacts them – are hidden from the general public.

If we can just show humanity what beauty lies in the sea, I think we can make a world of difference. The ocean is now calling to everyone, individually and collectively, to see it and to save it.

6. Of Shadows and Substance

How many shadows can one person have?

A shadow is proof that one is made of matter and substance. A shadow is proof that one exists and that one creates a space in this world that would otherwise be a void, an empty place of air and nothingness. Shadows prove existence.

The problem with existence is that no one has just one single existence. We exist in various capacities and forms, with different dreams, and on different paths, all at once in a simultaneousness that combines to form our single essence of existence. Right at this very moment, I can think of at least three completely alternate futures for myself. The shadows each of these futures cast are weakened or strengthened form day to day, simply depending on how heavily that specific path weights on you on any given day.

Existence can be a funny thing. Sometimes, existence consists of boldly striving after your dreams – at least on a path or direction of dreams – while at other times existence is simply the mundane drudgery of spending your day at work. At the same time, who you are and what kind of shadow you cast can depend so much on something as simple and basic as your surrounding environment.

I know I have multiple shadows. Some of these shadows are short enough that they really barely seem to exist at all, while others are long enough to cause quite a swatch of space to be covered.  These shadows correspond directly with how much my being and presence in any given place matters or gives weight to both the place and to how important and how much bearing that environment has to me personally.

Shadows are strange. Sometimes they look exactly the way you would expect them to appear. Other times, you wouldn’t even recognize it as your own shadow. Outlines blur and become more distinct, depending on the time of day. Appearances waver as you seamlessly slide into another personality for another experience. Your shadow even changes depending on the people you’re around and what shadow they’re used to seeing. That is sometimes the most challenging: when you have to adapt yourself to casting a specific shadow for the benefit of people around you.

Honestly I think that was the most refreshing thing about moving to D.C. and starting all over again. I was able to see with fresh eyes what people actually saw of my shadow. I was no longer bound by my former shadows’ appearances. Instead, I was free to make my shadows with complete freedom and see the truth of who I have become over the years. I really like the person I’ve become. I like the shadows I cast. And I think that’s as much as anyone can strive for.