i appreciate a lot of the information that i've learned in law school, but fundamentally, i didn't have a good reason for going to law school when i started. actually, if i had to honestly state the foremost thought in my brain at matriculation, it would have to be "fear."  from an outsider's perspective, i don't think "fear" would be the first adjective to come to mind.

beginning as a kindergartner, i always did well in school. i remember doing so well in school that i was embarrassed. i would purposely miss questions on tests or answer questions incorrectly in class because i didn't want to be different. i didn't want to be recognized as the girl who always got "above 100%." i know this sounds so silly now. i want to go back and shake that little girl, the little girl with the purple bifocals who just wanted to be like everyone else. i wish i could tell her that it's ok to be different from everyone else. it's ok.

i remember when i was in sixth grade. the accelerated program at school wanted me to take the S.A.T. for some scholarship program. i was eleven. no one takes the S.A.T. until they are at least 16, probably 17. I hated it, so I hid the letter from my parents. I can't believe how much I wanted to fit in back then. i wonder what i would have been like, had i not withheld this information; this knowledge.

I think i was about seven or eight years old when i won the freestyle competition at my local swim meet. it was close, between me and a couple of other girls. i asserted that they had beat me. i don't know why. i guess, even at that age, i knew that it meant more to them than it did to me. i remember my dad telling me that i had won, but it didn't matter to me if i had won or not.
when i finally reached my senior year of high school, i cared more about doing well. i graduated in the top ten of my class, out of 400 or so.  i still was under the radar, though.  i think that every "smart" person was in my a.p. physics class, and they would always argue their current class rank; guessing each other's respective place in the hierarchy.  they never could figure out who number 5 was.  they never guessed it was me, and i'm glad that they couldn't.  i never felt smart in that class anyway (haha)
i'm not interested in judging myself by my class rank, in high school or in college; not in law school, either.  how would i like to see myself?  well, i have one story that comes to mind.  i was probably 22 or 23 at the time, and my dad had just returned from san francisco for work.  he described to me a man he saw who didn't have legs. a homeless man; a veteran.  he didn't have legs and was on the street. on hearing the description of him, i cried. i couldn't stop crying; really. and my dad told me that i was compassionate, and he meant it. if i am compassionate, then he and my mom made me that way.

i think that growing up has been difficult because i never knew what my main talent was (or is). people have always told me that i'm lucky to have abilities in many subjects, but i don't think it's that lucky. i've never been decidedly led to any particular area of expertise, which doesn't equate well with a job. if you know one thing that you are particularly good at, then great, it's set. but with me, i don't know. i've been a decent writer, but before i have the luxury of sitting in prague and finishing the stories i've started, i think i can only utilize that skill in less fanciful ways.
i don't know why i'm writing all of this tonight, but i guess tonight i FEEL a lot. all of the things that i used to regret – i don't regret anymore. whatever has happened to me in the past is good because it has brought me to now. i might be the luckiest girl in the world. i have the most wonderful family EVER. i really do – i don't know how they got this amazing, but my mom and dad and my brothers and gussy…wow. and i have chris, who is just incredible. he has gotten me through law school so far, along with andrea, my sister. and of course my amazing friends who always make me feel loved, i love you all.

i guess the only thing that i want to end on is that i am happy, so happy! as i said before, i started law school out of fear – fear of what i would do next with my life. but now i know. maybe i don't know exactly, but i have so many people i love and care about that i will be just fine. chris, i love you so very much and i can't wait to be with you again! this is the last time we'll be apart, forever! i love you baby, and thank you for making everything so much better. ok, before i get too sappy to my friends and family, i will sign off. i love you guys.


2 thoughts on “Hindsight

  1. mrparks says:

    Hey babby,

    the tough thing with finding your niche or talent is then you have an enormous responsibility to it. So for now, let’s just prepare for that with being well rounded!

  2. andrea says:

    Steph, I am so happy that you are coming home that I don’t even know if words will or could make it make sense. Only in a small way has it been a semester at school without you, but really, I just miss you for all that you say and feel and think. Even though being so multidimensional has created more confusion throughout your life, I’m glad that you’re coming to peace with it because as an alternative, you could see narrowly and participate narrowly, questioning nothing and blindly accepting, but it’s the thoughts, to me, that make you someone I love so very much. Throughout history, it’s been the truly intelligent people, both in academia and intuition, who are tortured by questioning society because they see too much and are capable of so much, but I think the answer for you is, in fact, in the people you love. Family and real friends are consistently comforting, in thoughts and love, and the holders of trust and happiness in a world of backwards politics and backwards incentives. Struggling in law school has given me an automatic answer, which undoubtedly makes future decision and capabilities more apparent to me. I know, and imagine it to be harder for you, knowing you can compete with the top of law school too, making your decisions not to continue in the continuous, competitive hierarchy more practically difficult, although not emotionally so, and definitely even more admirable. But if we are all looking for success, conventional success is not conventional at all. It is backwards, and isn’t success really just happiness? And what gives it is so easy. Those with whom we are able to talk for hours and hours of just interest, understanding, compassion and fun, and building on the forever-layered layers of those who see so much, and have so much to offer in our lives. Best friends and real friends, and loving, generous, fun families really are everything. What else could possibly ever matter? When I wrote about my grandfather’s life the other night, it is only those we deeply love and our love for them that matter in the end, when the chips are down and the sails come in, so to speak. Those we meet in passing, or whom befriend us in cursory ways of personal utility or whom we knew for a moment won’t matter and can’t matter. We know them for a moment. They forget us, and we forget them. How many of those people can you collect and still have nothing, and how many successes can you attain and still not have success (happiness-success)? I am so happy we met in this school because I’ve learned more from you and how we’ve come to see the world than I learned from any textbook or professor. I have so much more faith in you than anything in the law, or anything I’ve seen or heard here. No other will ever, or really could have the same life in a different family, and I still can’t believe it happened once, and would honestly trade it for nothing. I love you and miss you so much! Come back!!

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