I’ve now been a “real lawyer” for about six weeks now. I had anticipated writing more frequently than I have, but as I had suspected, I lacked either time, energy, or inspiration whenever I thought about writing again.
The past couple of days have been different for me though. I’ve been continuously thinking about the stress of this new work. I’ve been thinking about where the line is between normal stress and the dreaded “A” word: anxiety.
I have reached a point with work that is requiring me to really think about time management. I’ve had time to make mistakes. I’m learning about the necessity of calculation as opposed to simply looking at the outcome and assuming that I will get what I expect.
I hope that it’s normal for any person to not know the answer to every question on Day 1. I hope that it’s normal for any person to not do everything perfectly beginning on Day 1. I hope that it’s normal to come in some days and struggle with what to do first.
I think it is, particularly because I have been exposed to a few podcasts lately that involve lawyers and former lawyers ruminating on how tough it is to be a lawyer: “Happier” by Gretchen Rubin; “The Lawyer Stress Solution” by Kara Loewentheil; and “The Resilient Lawyer: Integrative Lawyering” by Jeena Cho come to mind. And I consider myself very lucky to have found these resources.
Having learned about how to take control of the other aspects of my life and manage them to the best of my ability allows me to focus on the stress of work when I’m at work with minimal stress about outside concerns. Having learned about the difference between thoughts and feelings gives me greater ability to differentiate between what is real and what is being manufactured by my brain. And having greater ability to observe and control the things my brain is manufacturing allows me to work on tuning out the things I cannot control and allows me to focus on the things that I can control.
I’m by no means indicating that I’m doing splendidly at any of those things, but I think I’m probably better off than people who started this career (or who have been in the career for a long time) without these tools and this knowledge. This information, I think, is what is keeping me from crossing the line from being stressed about work to being anxious about work. I don’t regret taking the job, and I don’t regret any of the things that I’ve done in the job. I’m doing the best I can, using the resources available to me at work, and learning from my mistakes. And I guess that’s all I can do. The rest just has to be filtered out, and handled in a healthy way.
Oh, and for those who want to know what I’ve been working on: writing collection letters and demand letters to settle claims; defending a deposition (that was grueling); learning how to properly bill my time; drafting complaints; and trying to network with people who might trust me to help them with the most important parts of their lives.