Letter to a law student
You might be tired of reading the cases assigned for today or of memorizing an article in the Civil Code for hours. Like you, I’ve had my share of good and not-so-good days for the past four months. I want to share with you some realizations which might help you in one way or another, to remind you that you are never alone in what you feel and experience.
Law and faith. In this battlefield called law school, I realized how faith could really push you forward whenever things get rough. Faith here consists of faith in one’s self and capabilities and, more important, faith in God. Whenever you are physically or emotionally tired, it is your faith and vision that will keep you going. Through the good and not-so-good days, keep your faith strong enough to push you a little more in this journey.
Another day, another chance. One of the first things I realized in law school is that we must live one day at a time, and to leave tomorrow’s worries for tomorrow. Indeed, surviving is made up of our everyday struggles. I realized that slowly, I am learning to outlive my bad recits and to cherish my well-done recits. To put it in other words, this is tantamount to learning how to move on with every single day, because the next day would be different and you can do much better than how you did yesterday. So chin up, hold your head high, and remember that today is a brand-new day filled with renewed opportunities.
Whatever happens, trust the process. Maybe it’s a cliché, but I guess that it’s the whole point of every journey one has to go through. In the same manner that beginnings are always the hardest, sooner or later we will realize that every step we take will lead us to our ultimate goal. No matter how painful, how tiresome and how burdensome, the process is what builds our character into becoming ready for the realization of our dreams.
Study consistently and earnestly. I have always believed in getting things done piecemeal, whether in life or in academic endeavors. In the words of Erin Andrew, “success does not happen overnight.” One has to work for it every day. One has to take simple steps that will lead one to the fulfillment of that dream.
Constantly search for the hows and whys. When things get rough, it is inevitable that we ask ourselves “How can I possibly surpass this?” and many other mind-boggling questions. Apart from the recitation questions that are definitely nerve-wracking, these existential questions will occasionally bother you. But you must not let them weaken your spirit; instead, you must use these challenges to continue pursuing your dream—and one day you’ll thank yourself for not surrendering to them.
Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. I’m not lying when I say that online articles about first year in law school are exaggerated. Indeed, “difficult” is an understatement to describe this first year, or perhaps law school in general. Always be prepared. Every meeting is a golden opportunity to redeem yourself, to engage in meaningful discourse, and to enrich yourself with knowledge and experiences.
Ordinary things with extraordinary effects. Never underestimate the power of doing small things for yourself or even for other people. Simple efforts of telling your seat mate how you understood the lesson and extending studying by a few more hours will surely go a long way. We might not realize it, but these small things will add the “extra” in extraordinary.
Ora et labora. This is one of the first things I learned, and became accustomed to, when I entered law school. It is a comforting and at the same time firm reminder that it is not enough that we rely on our own capacities. We have to acknowledge the grace of God in everything that we do. Conversely, one must not purely rely on God, and do nothing to realize one’s prayers and dreams. As a frequently cited Bible verse says, “Faith without action is dead” (James 2:26).
Live one day at a time, at your own pace, but don’t lose sight of the people around you. As time passes, I have realized that surviving is not just made up of your own efforts, it is also motivated by the people you surround yourself with. If grade school or high school has taught you to outdo others, this time it’s not you being better than others; what is more important is that you become the better version of yourself with each passing day. At the same time, you learn how to grow together with the people around you, and then suddenly, unknowingly, you will realize how these people have helped you survive your everyday battles in law school. Make lasting friends and keep yourself in a good company; they make a huge impact in your journey.
Because our stories are still going, our codals might seem never-ending. But at the end of the day, we have to keep going. We might pause for a while or experience breaking or bending, but we will endure every bit of it because it is our dream to get that longed-for title before our names. Just like a semicolon, may we always remember not to stop or give up when things get rough, but to pause and remind ourselves of our vision and dream.
It’s not yet even half of the battle, and it’s okay to feel tired and lost sometimes. We’ve all been there, we’ve had our own heartbreaking experiences. But we have to keep going, we have to be reminded that we are made for better things ahead.
If the movie “The Fault in Our Stars” introduced to us the “little infinities,” I guess in law school you’ll get to appreciate the “little saving grace” every time you survive a day that you thought you wouldn’t. These are our little victories, our saving moments in the midst of trials and challenges.
At the end of the day, it is our constant striving that will eventually lead us to our dream. Keep going, my friend. We’ll get there soon!
Mindy Roiza A. Planillo, 21, is a freshman at San Beda College of Law, Manila.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.