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Anxiety and Dread about Starting Law School

Posted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 5:38 pm
by stomachpotato
I've been planning to go to law school since the beginning of college, and everything I have done since then has been leading up to this moment. I studied hard, got my 4.0, took law-related classes, wrote a law-related thesis, worked as a paralegal for two years while I studied for the LSAT, scored 175+, worked abroad for another two years, accepted a full ride at CCN. By TLS standards, I did everything right. But ever since I made my decision on May 1, I've been constantly turning it over in my head and feeling horrible pangs of regret. Should I have chosen a different school? Should I have studied something else in college? Should I try to pursue another career path? I never seriously considered doing anything else, and I'm starting to think that's a serious problem. I have experience in international development--maybe I should do an MIA/MPP? I don't know. The point is I'm not sure what to do with my life, and I'm afraid I'm going to fall into that category of sad people who went to law school because they couldn't imagine any better options.

I wasted my whole summer watching TV, eating junk food, and trying to escape the anxiety I have about starting school. Now I have just 2 weeks to deal with all of that and make a final decision. Whenever I entertain the idea of withdrawing, dropping out, doing something else with my life, all of the fear and anxiety lifts and I start to feel happy again. Is that I sign that I shouldn't go? Should I trust my gut, or should I power through and see how I feel when school starts? If I'm already this anxious, is law school just going to make all of this worse? And if I feel so overwhelmed by just the thought of starting 1L, am I going to totally lose my mind when I actually have to the work? I just don't feel prepared to go right now. I think I might crack under the pressure if I continue to feel this way during 1L.

Is anyone else feeling things like this? I'm so close to emailing my school and withdrawing. I guess all I'm looking for is a little support. If I'm the only one feeling this way, maybe it's an indication that I shouldn't go. I hate being this indecisive about such a huge transition. What should I do?

Re: Anxiety and Dread about Starting Law School

Posted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 5:45 pm
by Lexigator
Lots of people have the same issues. You're not alone. You've obviously put a lot of work into getting to where you are, and now you have a severe case of pre-game jitters. You'll be fine. You'll go to school, adjust to the climate, find yourself surrounded by dedicated students, and do well. Worst case scenario, you go, you hate it, you drop out and find something else.

Re: Anxiety and Dread about Starting Law School

Posted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 5:48 pm
by Dcc617
Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years? If it's not as a lawyer then you should reconsider going.

Also, you can probably still defer a year if you want. It may not be ideal but it's a way of hedging your bets.

Re: Anxiety and Dread about Starting Law School

Posted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 5:52 pm
by lawpotato
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Re: Anxiety and Dread about Starting Law School

Posted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 6:07 pm
by stomachpotato
Dcc617 wrote:Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years? If it's not as a lawyer then you should reconsider going.

Also, you can probably still defer a year if you want. It may not be ideal but it's a way of hedging your bets.

I'm honestly not sure, and I think part of the reason why I took the scholarship was to have the option of dropping out or changing careers if I didn't like being a lawyer. I guess that was a good instinct, but it might be a strong signal that this isn't the best path for me.

Thanks for suggesting deferral--I wasn't really considering that as a possibility, but maybe it is. The only issue is that the scholarship isn't guaranteed. Would it be better to just reapply?

Re: Anxiety and Dread about Starting Law School

Posted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 7:25 pm
by OakBrook2021
I don't have alot of life experience and none as a law student, but if you hate it you can always do something else right? It's not like getting a JD will force you to practice law until age 65. If you were about to take on crippling debt then you should really think this over, but why have anxiety when you have an opportunity that is so awesome right in front of you? I'm applying in the fall and feel the same way sometimes; then I thought, if I hate what I'm doing after 5 years of law I can have a complete career change in my early 30's without throwing away my life. Jeff Bezos left his career at 30 to start Amazon. I can, however, see myself as a lawyer ten years down the road which is why I'm set on going.

Re: Anxiety and Dread about Starting Law School

Posted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 9:02 pm
by freekick
Much (or all?) of what you are feeling about law school is not experiential; its all in your head right now. Your thoughts about the future seem to have spiralled out of control. Strongly suggest you experience law school first hand and take it from there. Having a full ride makes it practically doable. Go.For.It.

Re: Anxiety and Dread about Starting Law School

Posted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 9:11 pm
by MikeSpivey
Not sure if this will help but happy to share with all in case it does a bit!

http://blog.spiveyconsulting.com/untitled-6/

Re: Anxiety and Dread about Starting Law School

Posted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 9:24 pm
by Veil of Ignorance
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Re: Anxiety and Dread about Starting Law School

Posted: Fri Aug 04, 2017 4:12 am
by sunnyhopeful
stomachpotato wrote:Whenever I entertain the idea of withdrawing, dropping out, doing something else with my life, all of the fear and anxiety lifts and I start to feel happy again. Is that I sign that I shouldn't go? Should I trust my gut, or should I power through and see how I feel when school starts? If I'm already this anxious, is law school just going to make all of this worse? And if I feel so overwhelmed by just the thought of starting 1L, am I going to totally lose my mind when I actually have to the work? I just don't feel prepared to go right now. I think I might crack under the pressure if I continue to feel this way during 1L.

Is anyone else feeling things like this? I'm so close to emailing my school and withdrawing. I guess all I'm looking for is a little support. If I'm the only one feeling this way, maybe it's an indication that I shouldn't go. I hate being this indecisive about such a huge transition. What should I do?


I feel this way too. Especially the part of envisioning not going, how much better that feels.

Re: Anxiety and Dread about Starting Law School

Posted: Fri Aug 04, 2017 7:03 am
by A. Nony Mouse
FWIW, I find a lot of times that the unknown is much more anxiety inducing than the known, so it's much tougher not having started yet than it is once you actually start and get assignments and take classes and it all becomes routine pretty quickly. So while I can't really comment on whether you should go to school - that's really something you have to decide - I don't think being anxious now means that you won't be able to hack the work and will get more anxious once you're there.

I guess the only thing I'll say about whether to go - you've spent a ton of your life driving for a particular goal, which you've built up as this huge thing in your mind. Now that the threshold to that goal has been achieved, it's pretty natural to feel kind of lost/adrift/anxious and wonder if it's what you really wanted after all. It's possible that the thought of *not* going is a relief because it means you can go back to planning/preparing/striving for something, without having to worry about actually what to do when you get there.

Re: Anxiety and Dread about Starting Law School

Posted: Fri Aug 04, 2017 7:52 am
by MrAdultman
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Re: Anxiety and Dread about Starting Law School

Posted: Fri Aug 04, 2017 8:10 am
by devilblue
Also there's a pretty well documented medical condition of depression and anxiety right before or after people make major life changes ie middle to high school, high school to college, college to workforce, and workforce to retirement. I think you'll feel much better once you get there. Just get to campus and start immersing yourself and these feelings will be gone before you know it.

Re: Anxiety and Dread about Starting Law School

Posted: Fri Aug 04, 2017 9:34 am
by TasmanianToucan
stomachpotato wrote:I wasted my whole summer watching TV, eating junk food, and trying to escape the anxiety I have about starting school.

While thoughts about starting law school probably planted the seed of your anxiety, spending a summer this way is enough to make even the smallest anxiety seed grow into a goddamn little shop of horrors monstrosity tree of full-blown anxiety.

Calm down and start school. You're on a full ride at a great school, and will have plenty of opportunities. The massive lifestyle change of going to a new place will also give you the opportunity to set yourself a new routine that includes a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Re: Anxiety and Dread about Starting Law School

Posted: Fri Aug 04, 2017 11:39 am
by Damage Over Time
There's a good chance this is just anticipation anxiety. I experienced something very similar before starting my first post-law-school job (my mind would make every action implicated in work life seem herculean), but the anxiety washed away really quickly once I started. You got this!

Re: Anxiety and Dread about Starting Law School

Posted: Fri Aug 04, 2017 2:36 pm
by freekick
Damage Over Time wrote:There's a good chance this is just anticipation anxiety. I experienced something very similar before starting my first post-law-school job (my mind would make every action implicated in work life seem herculean), but the anxiety washed away really quickly once I started. You got this!


+100

Re: Anxiety and Dread about Starting Law School

Posted: Fri Aug 04, 2017 2:37 pm
by stomachpotato
A. Nony Mouse wrote:FWIW, I find a lot of times that the unknown is much more anxiety inducing than the known, so it's much tougher not having started yet than it is once you actually start and get assignments and take classes and it all becomes routine pretty quickly. So while I can't really comment on whether you should go to school - that's really something you have to decide - I don't think being anxious now means that you won't be able to hack the work and will get more anxious once you're there.

I guess the only thing I'll say about whether to go - you've spent a ton of your life driving for a particular goal, which you've built up as this huge thing in your mind. Now that the threshold to that goal has been achieved, it's pretty natural to feel kind of lost/adrift/anxious and wonder if it's what you really wanted after all. It's possible that the thought of *not* going is a relief because it means you can go back to planning/preparing/striving for something, without having to worry about actually what to do when you get there.


This forum is amazing--thank you everyone for your comments. It's comforting to know I'm not the only one feeling this way. The bolded piece above really hits home for me. I was trying to figure out why I felt so comforted by the admittedly crazy idea of postponing my life for another year (the reality of which would likely just be an extension of the discomfort and uncertainty I'm feeling right now). I've been so seduced by the goal of getting into law school for such a long time that I haven't really had to think about what comes next. So of course I'm feeling some sense of loss and trying to grasp at anything that feels familiar. In and of itself, that discomfort doesn't mean that I'm on the wrong path or that I'm destined to be unhappy. It just means I'm in a state of transition and I need to give myself time to settle into the next step.

It's also definitely true that having no real responsibilities this summer gave me way too much free time to second guess my decisions and drive myself crazy. And the idleness/lack of routine/poor diet probably caused the anxiety to balloon out of proportion. Maybe the regular workload and routine of law school will help pull me out of this rut, and I'll start feeling better. I just need to make a point of not getting caught up in the cult of perfectionism and try to be comfortable with median grades (which would be completely fine for my goals--I'm not gunning for a top clerkship or prestige PI or anything like that).

All this to say: thank you all for your support, and I'm starting to feel like this might turn out OK after all.

P.S. I just hope I can get some sleep in the next two weeks. Anybody have good remedies for anxiety-induced insomnia? I haven't had a full night's sleep in over a week.

Re: Anxiety and Dread about Starting Law School

Posted: Fri Aug 04, 2017 9:13 pm
by Alive97
stomachpotato wrote:I've been planning to go to law school since the beginning of college, and everything I have done since then has been leading up to this moment. I studied hard, got my 4.0, took law-related classes, wrote a law-related thesis, worked as a paralegal for two years while I studied for the LSAT, scored 175+, worked abroad for another two years, accepted a full ride at CCN. By TLS standards, I did everything right. But ever since I made my decision on May 1, I've been constantly turning it over in my head and feeling horrible pangs of regret. Should I have chosen a different school? Should I have studied something else in college? Should I try to pursue another career path? I never seriously considered doing anything else, and I'm starting to think that's a serious problem. I have experience in international development--maybe I should do an MIA/MPP? I don't know. The point is I'm not sure what to do with my life, and I'm afraid I'm going to fall into that category of sad people who went to law school because they couldn't imagine any better options.

I wasted my whole summer watching TV, eating junk food, and trying to escape the anxiety I have about starting school. Now I have just 2 weeks to deal with all of that and make a final decision. Whenever I entertain the idea of withdrawing, dropping out, doing something else with my life, all of the fear and anxiety lifts and I start to feel happy again. Is that I sign that I shouldn't go? Should I trust my gut, or should I power through and see how I feel when school starts? If I'm already this anxious, is law school just going to make all of this worse? And if I feel so overwhelmed by just the thought of starting 1L, am I going to totally lose my mind when I actually have to the work? I just don't feel prepared to go right now. I think I might crack under the pressure if I continue to feel this way during 1L.

Is anyone else feeling things like this? I'm so close to emailing my school and withdrawing. I guess all I'm looking for is a little support. If I'm the only one feeling this way, maybe it's an indication that I shouldn't go. I hate being this indecisive about such a huge transition. What should I do?


I once withdrew from law school the day before orientation was to start. The bolded lines here are probably similar to how I felt. Taken together, you may want to consider whether they rise above the level of merely being in transition or temporarily unsure. When I withdrew, I couldn't put my finger on exactly why, but in my situation at least, I had a strong feeling deep down about what my instincts were telling me. Only later did my actual reasons and feelings at the time crystallize.

I may have been more sure than you are though, and I had a worse result than you.

Re: Anxiety and Dread about Starting Law School

Posted: Sat Aug 05, 2017 9:17 am
by stomachpotato
Alive97 wrote:
stomachpotato wrote:I've been planning to go to law school since the beginning of college, and everything I have done since then has been leading up to this moment. I studied hard, got my 4.0, took law-related classes, wrote a law-related thesis, worked as a paralegal for two years while I studied for the LSAT, scored 175+, worked abroad for another two years, accepted a full ride at CCN. By TLS standards, I did everything right. But ever since I made my decision on May 1, I've been constantly turning it over in my head and feeling horrible pangs of regret. Should I have chosen a different school? Should I have studied something else in college? Should I try to pursue another career path? I never seriously considered doing anything else, and I'm starting to think that's a serious problem. I have experience in international development--maybe I should do an MIA/MPP? I don't know. The point is I'm not sure what to do with my life, and I'm afraid I'm going to fall into that category of sad people who went to law school because they couldn't imagine any better options.

I wasted my whole summer watching TV, eating junk food, and trying to escape the anxiety I have about starting school. Now I have just 2 weeks to deal with all of that and make a final decision. Whenever I entertain the idea of withdrawing, dropping out, doing something else with my life, all of the fear and anxiety lifts and I start to feel happy again. Is that I sign that I shouldn't go? Should I trust my gut, or should I power through and see how I feel when school starts? If I'm already this anxious, is law school just going to make all of this worse? And if I feel so overwhelmed by just the thought of starting 1L, am I going to totally lose my mind when I actually have to the work? I just don't feel prepared to go right now. I think I might crack under the pressure if I continue to feel this way during 1L.

Is anyone else feeling things like this? I'm so close to emailing my school and withdrawing. I guess all I'm looking for is a little support. If I'm the only one feeling this way, maybe it's an indication that I shouldn't go. I hate being this indecisive about such a huge transition. What should I do?


I once withdrew from law school the day before orientation was to start. The bolded lines here are probably similar to how I felt. Taken together, you may want to consider whether they rise above the level of merely being in transition or temporarily unsure. When I withdrew, I couldn't put my finger on exactly why, but in my situation at least, I had a strong feeling deep down about what my instincts were telling me. Only later did my actual reasons and feelings at the time crystallize.

I may have been more sure than you are though, and I had a worse result than you.


I'm curious to know what happened. Did you ever reapply? What were your reasons? I feel sure about being terrified, but not as sure about withdrawing. Can we PM?

Re: Anxiety and Dread about Starting Law School

Posted: Wed Aug 16, 2017 4:31 pm
by sonny@cheeba
I had way worse stats than you and attend a school well below yours. And I ended up with pretty good grades and callbacks in a region that I'd thought impossible. The drive that led you into to law school is still there; apply it to the situation at hand and don't let up until May.

Re: Anxiety and Dread about Starting Law School

Posted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 11:29 am
by OutCold
Honestly, the fact that you are getting what amounts to a free degree (minus COL) really provides you with the freedom to go a multitude of different fields. JDs from top law schools are tremendously versatile--the problem is that most people are shackled to firms for at least a few years just to pay off their debt. You are also in a great position because, if you hate it after a year, you can always go do something else with minimal investment.

Re: Anxiety and Dread about Starting Law School

Posted: Fri Aug 18, 2017 1:52 am
by AJordan
Don't rule out seeking some professional help if you have the luxury of doing so. This could help keep you from possibly coping with these anxiety issues in an unhealthy way in the future. Most achievers eventually reach a spot where all that preparation and grunt work is just not good enough anymore in the eyes of someone else. This is a pretty crushing blow in my experience. Some people turn to substance abuse in this time really without even thinking about it. I'm not at all saying that you will, but the comorbid nature of anxiety/depression and substance abuse is a real thing and you are already exhibiting some signs of the former.