You Do You Boo

I’ve started and re-started this post so many times now, I’m about to give up trying. The words in my head make sense but they’ve been coming out so formally in my writing that I’m pretty sure I’d put off anyone who actually tried to read my rambling.

What I actually want to say is very simple so I’ll just say it: if you are the type of person who is strong in your convictions and you know the path you are on and where it’s taking you, don’t let people around you distract you from your journey.

In a nutshell, ignore the naysayers and do what’s right for you.

I got to thinking about this a few nights ago when I realised that in my 26 years, I’ve only really made one big, colossal mistake which I regret, and it happened entirely because I let myself get swayed by others and allowed other people’s views on what I should be doing, affect what I actually decided to do.

Now to be clear, this particular mistake hasn’t horrendously affected my life - it knocked me off course for a while, but I managed to right the boat again - but the regret is more down to the waste of time, effort and money it cost me, not to mention my stress levels being through the bloody roof for a solid four years.

Glad I didn’t ask my doctor to check my cortisol level at some point in the last couple of years. I’d have probably broken the machine with my result….

Essentially, when I left university with my Law degree in hand, I knew I didn’t want to practice as a lawyer for the foreseeable future. I still don’t.

When I decided to study Law, I was quite young, but I was specifically obsessed with the idea of becoming a barrister (a trial attorney for the Americans among you). Now, largely due to political reasons and the Ministry of Justice’s budget being slashed for legal aid cases, I decided the time wasn’t right for me to become a barrister right now, because I wouldn’t be able to practice the kind of law I wanted to.

So as far as I was concerned, I was hanging my lawyer hat up for the time being and off to do some thing else. To be fair, I did manage to achieve that and I’ve happily been working away in a different industry full-time since.

However, my parents seemed to have other ideas and somehow managed to convince me that I should “keep my connection with Law” and that this meant I should do one of the vocational training courses required to be a lawyer. Incidentally, the one they convinced me to do wasn’t even the course required to become a barrister - it was to become a solicitor.

So, there I am, having ended up on this course and I have to say, the entire time I was studying it, I hated it. I surprised myself because my entire educational career until that point had been relatively fun an enjoyable, so studying something and hating every minute of it was a terrible feeling for me.

It was partly due to the fact that I was working full-time in an unrelated industry so it’s not as though my mind was on the Law all the time. The pressure and workload from studying was intense with an expectation that I’d be devoting roughly 20 hours a week to the course - when those 20 hours are filled with things that you hate doing, and it’s all happening on top of working a full-time job and commuting etc. I literally ended up with no time to myself.

I had no life, I was exhausted physically and mentally, most nights I just wanted to cry myself to sleep and I just couldn’t manage the pressure.

I got through it of course but looking back, I don’t think it was worth it, at all. I suppose the downside for me was also that I knew that it wasn’t the right path for me, so I had this niggling sensation at the back of my mind constantly saying “why are you doing this? It isn’t what you want.”

The stress of it all became so much that having started the course I had to put it on pause for a year or so to sort my mind out, and I never really went back to it when it was time.

Throughout all of this, I had my dad constantly asking me how it was going, how I was doing, etc. etc. And I knew that me saying “it’s shit. I hate it,” wasn’t going to go down well so I never said that. Instead I had a stock response that it was all fine, it was a lot of work but I was handling it.

It’s very, very difficult to live someone else’s dreams for you, rather than your own dreams for yourself. When I decided to take a year’s break from the course and I told my dad I was going to take the break, his reaction was all “but why? I don’t know why you’d do this to me. What are you thinking?” etc. etc. My actual wish at that point was to withdraw fully from the course but that would have caused a whole load of other issues so a break it was.

I managed to talk him around to the idea eventually but what I’m trying to say is, I shouldn’t have had to, and neither should you. When you genuinely know within yourself that something isn’t right for you, or you shouldn’t take a certain path, then don’t. And whatever you do, don’t allow others’ thoughts and opinions influence what’s best for you.