The perfect winter break, what does that even look like?
If you ask certain law students it’s taking an actual break from doing anything law school related until the last-minute. Others would say it’s taking about 2.5 weeks off, then getting back to the swing of things like purchasing books and getting ready for the next semester. Then there are those students who have used winter break to get other things done like resumes, cover letters, buying school books and supplies, looking for summer jobs, getting a head start on classwork and so much more. It’s funny to look on Instagram or Facebook and see what people are up to, which path they’ve chosen or at least which path they want you to think they’ve chosen. That’s the thing with social media, you never know if people are being sincere or creating a story about their lives, and looking back on this semester, the stories we tell each other in law school are very similar.
Which brings us to the theme of this Harry Potter chapter: perceptions.
We will start with the usual chapter recap:
It’s the first day of classes at Hogwarts. As the students are attending breakfast Ron receives a Howler from Mrs. Weasley and it yells at him in front of everyone. They then run off to attend Herbology where Harry runs into Gilderoy Lockhart who talks to harry about the taste of fame and Harry’s stunt of arriving to school in a flying car. Harry shakes him off, until heading to Lockhart’s first Defense Against the Dark Arts class where Lockhart overhears another student asking Harry for an autographed picture. Lockhart then tells Harry a little more about the price of fame. As class commences the students are asked to answer a questionnaire about Lockhart based on their required reading of all of Lockhart’s books. Before the end of class Lockhart release a bunch of Cornish Pixies on the class, unable to get them back under control before the end of class, he leaves letting the Golden Trio to clean up his mess.
What I enjoy about Lockhart is just how well he can attract people to him. There’s something about how people present themselves that make you want to be around them. Lockhart gives out free advice (unsolicited), tries to relate with people he marks as his equal or potential equal, flashes his brilliant smile here and there, brags about his adventures and his life, and the crowd is hooked (or at least most of the crowd). That’s the interesting thing about being able to control how people perceive you.
In law school the busier you make yourself seem, the more you may seem to have everything together. The more relaxed you appear, the less you seem to care. The more times people see you in the library, the harder you appear to work than everyone else… and the situations are endless. Social media offers us the same platform to create the perfect life perceived by others and the pictures posted during the holidays are especially notorious for being snapshots of one perfect moment during the craziness of an imperfect day. At the end of the day, it truly is your story to tell and present in whatever manner you want, but there is trouble that brews from telling an unrealistic story to the world.
When you set out to control the narrative, control how you are perceived by others you run the risk of having to then stay stagnant and/or something even worse… becoming burnt out trying to keep it up. Perfection takes a lot of work, and maintaining the perception of a perfect life can become very draining on you. We’ve seen it time and time again portrayed in television and movies, and by the end of this Harry Potter book we will see what great lengths Lockhart has gone through to make sure his narrative is perfectly crafted.
The thing is, you don’t have to pick one way of life and stick to it. You don’t have to follow the same study plan and tactics as the semester before. You don’t have to always stick to the same friend groups and study groups. You can allow yourself to grow, to branch out, to change before people’s eyes and things will be okay. Make your failures somewhat public, be honest and raw with people, live your life out loud whether it is good times or bad… because if you don’t people will come to expect you to be perfect, to always have the answers, to be at every study session, to host the perfect dinners, to come to events looking perfect and so on and so forth. Create space in our life for the imperfect narrative. Give people a chance to perceive you for you… to get to know who you are deep down, because while it may not come to haunt you now, it may come to hurt you later.
So make sure to take time this winter break (or what’s left of it) to determine whether your authentic self is showing up in everything you do, or if some very closed-off, perfect shell is showing up… and then determine who you want to be…because the new year is coming!
Until Next Time,