Day 99: The Art of Quitting Law School

I felt like I was in a place that would determine who I would be for the rest of my life — a good lawyer, daughter, or someone who was right when she had decided to be a lawyer at the wise age of seven. Where was this place? My first and only semester of law school.

I had made several expensive choices to break into this prestigious world. I chose this world over the medical world because I hated bones. I said no to the business world because saying yes would have meant that it was possible for me to have been wrong for a decade. Choosing law over advertising the latter my true interest would also reinforce how I wanted to be perceived. It meant I was strong. If I could avoid the strong gravitational pull of a world of ads and clever jingles then that meant I was strong.

Yet, all the while, I never really meant to become a citizen of that a world where all they spoke was legalese. I only wanted to pick up some phrases to get by but not really practice it. I really only wanted what getting that citizenship meant. It would mean bringing a lawyer to the family tree. However, adding this to my family tree turned out not to be enough to get me through the anxiety-ridden late nights as a student nor the cut-throat world of a legal career in NYC.

So when I found myself at a coffee shop in public cutting the individual sentences for my legal writing assignment into tiny pieces to put them together again in some coherent essay I knew then why there was no way I could do it.

Do you know what turning in that one assignment meant? That would be the first permanent grade on a law school transcript. That would be the beginning of a world of judgments. This was me anchoring myself in a world filled with gray areas were the norm and thinking anything was black and white was naive. This was an scary world for someone who wanted certainty that it was possible for her to be right.

Gratefully, it didn’t take me three years to change how I see the world forever. Anyone who is a lawyer tells you that once you study law you see the world in a very different way and it’s true.

It made me evaluate who I was. You see I wasn’t a little girl who had to succumb to the ramifications that came with seeing my parents in their own very different worlds. To my mom, stress in her world would cause a chemical reaction in her mind. To my dad, stress in his world would cause a disconnection between his heart and mouth. For me, I could simply quit stress and I did.

It forced me to disentangle my identity from being a lawyer. It made me think about other realms of possibility of being a good daughter. It made me cringe on how expensive it can be to try to prove that you are right. $10K for one semester but more intangible costs than I care to add up.

Quitting also gave my curious nature the opportunity to work harder.

It’s crazy to think that parts of who you really are can be dormant. Maybe, I couldn’t be curious and honest with myself in the same breath? Perhaps, this is the seesaw in me. Yet, when I quit law school, I knew it was time for my curiosity to lead the way into other worlds. It required me to share how I was wrong otherwise known as my dropping out of law school story.

Every time I shared it, I expected people to judge me as weak, a quitter or failure. Yet, what I heard was courage, bravery, and awe. It was so strange to me because what I did in law school felt like nothing in comparison to what I had to do to get out of several other worlds. This quit, this decision, this turn, this drop was easier to explain but for some reason people saw a hero in me.

Perhaps, you need to explore several worlds before jumping to conclusions about anyone else’s. Maybe by having a broader perspective you build the strength you need to survive all sorts of worlds. All of this gave me the outward confidence necessary to share more of who you are with the world; a world where you’ll be judged. The key however to all of this world exploration is being someone who is willing and strong enough to let people into your world before you go off and try to shape the world.

Watch this space for another exploration of worlds i.e. the working world which is one that I get to navigate vicariously through my career coaching clients everyday.

Article 1: What World Do You Spend Most Of Your Time In?

James Altucher, happy to discuss the best January date for my interview of you on An Interview with Melissa Llarena the podcast. My plan is to interview talented people who figured out how to build untraditional careers of substance. My guests would have had the guts to say NO to traditional options, brains to make sometimes wacky interests profitable, and creativity to pull it all off. I’d be honored. What do you say?




I coach executives on how to dissect & deliver a perfect #jobinterview @TuckSchool Author of №1 #HR interview @Forbes @LinkedIn #mom

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Melissa Llarena

Melissa Llarena

I coach executives on how to dissect & deliver a perfect #jobinterview @TuckSchool Author of №1 #HR interview @Forbes @LinkedIn #mom

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