Aragon and The Chamber of Secrets (CoS 15 & 16)

If there ever were two chapters of Harry Potter to describe law school, these would be those chapters.

aragog-chamber-of-secrets-illustrated-editionIn these two chapters, Harry and Ron follow the spiders into the Forbidden Forest. There they meet a GIANT spider named Aragon. Aragon tells the story of how Hagrid brought him to the school and cared for him until Tom Riddle turned Hagrid in (the last time the Chamber of Secrets was opened) and Aragon went to live in the Forbidden Forest. After Ron and Harry learn that Hagrid is innocent, they attempt to leave the spiders’ nest only to attacked by all of Aragon’s sons and Daughters. They only manage to escape because the Weasley family car, now wild, emerges from dark and races Harry and Ron out of the forest.
In the next chapter, McGongall announces that the mandrakes have matured enough to turn them into a potion and wake up everyone who has been petrified. The teachers are ecstatic thinking that the nightmare will be over and one of those petrified will tell them who is causing all of their troubles. Harry and Ron visit hermione in the hospital wing, where they find a crumbled up paper dealing basilisks in her hand. After talking to Moaning Myrtle (the first student killed by the basilisk) they start to piece the puzzle together. images-5Things turn for the worse though and the school is in a panic going into finals, and it’s not because finals, but because a student has been taken into the Chamber of Secrets. Harry and Ron spy to overhear that Ginny is the student now in the Chamber, and that Lockhart has been chosen (mainly through his bragging) to go and rescue her. They run up to Lockhart’s office to warn him about what he faces in the Chamber, only to find Lockhart packing his bags to flee. Lockhart discloses that he is a fraud. Harry and Ron force him to go into the Chamber of Secrets only to find themselves soon separated, Harry continuing alone and Ron staying with a memory hoped Lockhart.

This week’s theme: help. Harry and Ron find many people and things that help them in their worst moments, and in law school it’s important to also find things to help you!

The first year of law school is winding down with less than 7 weeks to go, and the closer we get to finals, appellate briefs being due and oral arguments, the more it feels like walking into a giant spider’s nest. Tensions are high around every corner and relief feels no where in sight. We also have that extra stress of figuring out classes for next semester and interviewing for summer jobs.

enhanced-17831-1405608304-5It definitely feels a little overwhelming. Finals looming over us, and everything still left to do feels a little like jumping down the secret passage to the Chamber of Secrets. But amongst all of this there are so many trusty sidekicks alongside us as we go through this journey. I started this semester by starting therapy at the Health and Counseling center on campus. It’s always a vulnerable moment to admit you have some issues you want to talk out, or that you need some help. I’ve posted on here before that I have General Anxiety Disorder. It’s not an easy disorder to detect since its all internal but it does manifest itself in different ways. For me, I plan because then I have a semblance of control over the situation. I also rehearse every conversation or answer numerous times before raising my hand or approaching someone. There are so many calculated moves because of my anxiety. Asking for help isn’t an easy thing to do either because of the implications behind it.

Most days in law school I feel like a fraud. Not to the extent of Gildeory Lockhart, but pretty close. it’s just part of law school, or at least that’s what they tell us. When you go to school with engineers, mock trial award winners, debate champs, military veterans and so many other people who have very different backgrounds, it’s hard to keep your head up and feel like you should be there. At the end of the first semester I felt a little lost, a little deflated, a little tired and very stressed. The adrenaline was wearing off and I wasn’t sure if I could continue… but then I asked for help. over the past few months it’s been amazing to talk to someone who really reminds me of why I’m in law school. She’s like having a Hermione to help guide you through the obvious things in front of you! I may not be some amazing award winning, always been on the tract to be a lawyer, beautiful minded law student, but I am a very accomplished person. I’ve started and ran my own business, I’ve managed a multi-million dollar store, I’m a published author and so much more.

It’s easy to get lost when you are faced up against some seriously stressful situations, but when you let others help you, when you allow the car to drive on it’s own and you start to trust yourself, law school becomes a bit easier to manage.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP!

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed

Cornelius Fudge (CoS 14)

Oh it seems I have lost track of time and blog posts over the past few weeks. Here we are again though ready to tackle both the law school and the magical school worlds again. This week’s theme is indecisiveness.

To catch everyone up a bit, Gryffindor is gearing up for their big Qudditch match and second years are preparing to pick classes alone for the first time at Hogwarts. In this chapter someone has trashed Harry’s dorm stealing Tom Riddle’s diary (which Harry found and magically saw Tom’s past thoughts which convicted Hagrid of being the one to open the Chamber of Secrets years ago). Fast forward and the Qudditich match is cancelled with the news that Hermione is currently in the infirmary after being petrified and is now awaiting a mandrake potion to be woken up. Harry and Ron go off to Hagrid’s Hut (against school rules of course) and are welcomed in only to have to hide as the Minster of Magic and Dumbledore come knocking on Hagrid’s door. Hagrid is taken to Azkaban, Luicis Malfoy arrives declaring the school board has decided its time for Dumbledore to step down for now with all of these attacks at Hogwarts, and Ron and Harry listen intently as Hagrid tells them covertly to “follow the spiders.”

Now how does indecisiveness work into this chapter? Easily, Hermione is out and with her being the brains of the operation Harry and Ron are now left to make their own decisions on what to do next in solving this magical crime mystery. Cornelius Fudge shows indecisiveness in trying to decide if Hagrid is indeed the perpetrator and if Dumbledore should be forced to step down. Never mind that the entire 2-6 year students are trying to figure out their class schedules for next year, do homework and decide whether leaving their dorms to go to classes is a good idea or not seeing as they could be petrified or killed at any minute.

The chaos in this chapter feels a lot like law school right now. While I would love to sit here and complain about all the work we have to get done and the decisions we have to make I want to give five easy tips on how to make hard decisions in the context of law school:

1) Deciding between going out or studying

Let’s make this one easy. Answer these questions:

  • Do you have a ton of homework that must be done by tomorrow? (No- take a breather and go out for an hour maybe; Yes- GET IN THE LIBRARY AND DO YOUR DAMN WORK ALREADY)
  • Is it Wednesday and you’ve gone out the past two nights? (No- You may go out for a short amount of time, as long as the previous question was a no too; Yes- YOU REALLY NEED TO GET IT TOGETHER HERE)
  • Is it Friday and you have a brief due Monday (that you’ve barely started or it looks like a blank page in Word)? (No- take a break, you’ve got all weekend to do homework; Yes- ARE YOU KIDDING ME? STAY IN, SIT AT THE COMPUTER WITH NO PEE BREAKS OR SNACKS, YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO MOVE UNTIL IT IS HALF DONE)
  • Do you have money? (No- THEN WHY ARE QUESTIONING GOING OUT WHEN YOU ARE LITERALLY MAKING NEGATIVE MONIES; yes- alright, go ahead)
  • Are you on the verge of a nervous breakdown? (Yes- GET OUTOF THE HOUSE NOW AND GO HAVE FUN; No- then see all other questions)

2) Deciding classes for next year

Go to all advising events you can get your hands on and if all else fails just take the other required courses next year. Just don’t stress about this. It’s scary and it seems like everyone else has their business together and hows what to take, but it will be okay!

3) Deciding what to do for summer

GO WITH YOUR GUT. Don’t listen to everyone else and read all their social media posts about how awesome it is that they got a PD/DA job for the summer or they are working at a firm or for a judge. Do what you want to do. Follow your passion and screw everyone else.

4) Deciding which Organizations to be part of

Alright, listen here, they say don’t join more then one student org your first year… just listen to them. You are already going to be tired and overworked… DON’T ADD MORE STRESS THAN NEEDED… but if you are like me and don’t listen to that advice, find about 2-3 organizations you like and then don’t complain to anyone when you have a lot of extra work to do because of them since nobody cares and they warned you.

5) Deciding what assignments/ readings are priority

I didn’t think this would ever be a problem, because hey you want to read for every class… BUT YOU SOMETIMES CANNOT DO THAT. I am by no means saying you should just show up to a class completely unprepared, you should at least try to skim the cases or look them up. But sometimes you have to not finish all the reading, or not go into detail because other classes are taking priority. Try your best to be prepared but don’t stress yourself out to the point of not sleeping or eating or seeing your friends. If it’s not going to be graded, and you haven’t skipped it consistently and you aren’t on-call, take a breather and relax. Skim the reading and head to class.

With that all said, law school doesn’t have to be full of hard decisions or indecisiveness (which occurs if you are like me and in a stressful situation). You can do this!

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed.

 

The Whomping Willow (CoS 5)

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Being hipsters with Paige!

Well I’m no longer in NYC, but after almost a full 8 hours (on Wednesday) of travel I am in my hometown of Las Vegas. I was nervous about returning to Las Vegas after leaving in June. Before heading off to law school I had a lot of responsibility from work to church and a good amount of friends, but I also had a lot of stress and bitterness towards all of the above. I had a great life: lived on my own in a great apartment, went to concerts and on trips regularly, had a lot of friend gatherings, a good paying job, made a home for myself at a great church which I loved serving at… I had a lot of great things going for me, but yet I still felt like I wasn’t enough, like everything around me wasn’t enough. Now, coming back after having time and distance from all my struggles and problems I noticed the major thread that connected everything together… high expectations.

In this chapter of Harry Potter a lot happens around the theme of expectations. Here’s the recap before we get into how expectations can help and hinder us.

Recap:

Summer break is coming to an end. Harry and the Weasleys head off to the train station running late after having to turn around many times to pick up forgotten items at the Burrow. They get to the station and everyone but Harry and Ron make it to Platform 9 3/4. Harry and Ron can’t get to the platform, so they take the flying car that the Weasley clan arrived to the station in. Ron denies to fly the car to Hogwarts after hearing his father talk about the invisibility booster. Desperate to get to Hogwarts Harry gets in the car and the two take off. Not too long after they head out on their journey the booster falters and they are spotted by muggles. The car starts to get tired on the long journey and as they make it to the school they hit the whomping willow. They are soon found by Snape and escorted into the school where they think for sure they will be expelled. Snape gets McGonagall and Dumbledore. McGonagall gives the two boys detention and then sandwiches, not expelling them from the school. Ron and Harry head up to their common room, being found and scolded by Hermione outside the Fat Lady’s portrait. Once inside the Gryffindor Common Room they are cheered by the rest of their house and then they head off to bed.

In this chapter Harry and Ron had three big expectations that did not come to fruition: (1) being able to easily access the platform to get to school, (2) the invisibility booster working on the car, and (3) being expelled from school. Each time something didn’t necessarily work out as expected they always had a small reactionary moment following the occurrence. Stress was always present in leading up to each moment as well. And that’s the thing about expectations. When we constantly have these mapped out expectations in our lives we are far more disappointed when things don’t necessarily work out or we stress ourselves out leading up to the expected moment. For me in my job I had expectations around every corner. I expected great things from my staff, from myself, from my customers, from my peers and from my leadership. Every single time things failed to meet my expectations or it felt like I was swimming against the current trying to meet my expectations I found myself extremely stressed out and upset. When my friends failed to stick to plans or act the way I wanted them to then I felt betrayed and hurt by their actions. My life was this one giant bubble of expectations that always popped and then resurfaced just to pop again later.

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Enjoying great coffee with my good friend Nicole… who had me pose for this photo…

When I went off to law school I brought that same mindset with me, except I didn’t know what to really expect from school, from people or really even from myself. I talked with a good friend one day about how she really was able to be so carefree about things. She responded with a simple thought: “I’ve come to only expect what I know people can give me and nothing more.” I’ve pondered on this idea for quite sometime and now being back in Vegas, back around all the things that used to stress me out, I’ve been putting that advice  to good use and amazingly things have been surpassing those expectations each day.

You see when you start to drop your expectations it allows you to relax, it allows room in your life for good things to happen, and it allows people to just be them and not feel forced to be something they are not.

I spent so much time trying to reach these high expectations and to hold people to high expectations that I missed out on just being able to sit back and live life with people. I let myself be stressed out all the time trying to keep people in these pretty boxes I wrapped up and put them in, that I missed out on seeing people for who they truly were, and I missed out on seeing who I truly was through it all. I crucified myself when things went wrong, taking the blame for not being able to be more than i truly was because people weren’t being who I wanted them to be. Looking on it now, I would have been perfectly happy with my life had I stopped trying to be the best, better than everyone already thought I was…

So my challenge for everyone this winter break and holiday season going into the time of making New Year Resolutions… drop the expectations and take time to just truly see the world and people around you. Don’t expect the holidays to be perfect, and laugh when things go not as planned. See the people around you for who they are and enjoy that person to the fullest. And most importantly… cut yourself a break. You are amazing. Take care of you, how you are now and drop the high unrealistic expectations you  place on yourself each and every day and just bask in your awesomeness. That’s what makes the world brighter, and that’s what has made my trip to Las Vegas such an amazing experience thus far. So you, yes you, go and relax into 2017 and see what happens, you won’t regret it.

Enjoy this holiday weekend, and look for another blog come our regular posting day this Sunday!

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed

 

 

Nicolas Flamel (SS13)

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This week’s post is going to a bit of a personal one. It’s going to tackle the issue of mental health and law school through a single character of this week’s Harry Potter chapter and my own struggle with mental health issues. For the longest time I struggled to understand why I thought and acted the way I do. About 1.5 years ago I ended up going to a therapist and discovered that I suffer from GAD (General Anxiety Disorder). Now to a lot of people (my old self included) having GAD is kind of like a cop out for having a messed up brain. It sounds like it everyone has this disorder and that it’s just something therapists tell you to make you feel better about your messed up reactions and strange interactions with people. It sounds like it’s something they tell you to make you have something to blame when you are irrational or overwhelmed with stress. But I ensure you it’s more than that.

For example this week I had an anxiety attack at a huge event with tons of lawyers and opportunities to network all around. To most people I just looked angry or irrational and overwhelmed, but on the inside it was like there was a war raging. I wanted to walk into this crowded room, put onto brightest smile, talk to people, laugh with my friends and then do the volunteer job I was given, but I couldn’t. I stood there petrified, my chest was tight, the room felt small, my eyes felt watery, and my brain started to nit-pick everything. It actually started before we got to the place in general and that’s what usually happens. Panic sets in, then nit-picking begins, then the overwhelming shame of not being like everyone else enjoying this event sets in, and then it all becomes too much and then it’s time to withdraw from the crowd and obsess over how you screwed up.

Looking back on my life, I don’t know exactly where anxiety became a part of me, but it’s been that way for as long as I can remember. Last year it was getting better. I refuse to go on medication for it (not that I judge those who do take medication for it) and try to really tackle it with other methods like exercise and nutrition. It was working, I could start to see where I was being irrational or tame the obsession of over analyzing an attack afterwards but in law school it’s really hard always stay a few steps ahead of my anxiety because law school creates more anxiety with every assignment and class.

In this week’s chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone while Harry, Ron and Hermione search everywhere to figure out who Nicolas Flamel is and how they can keep harry Safe during the next quidditch match (where Snape, who they think is trying to steal the sorcerer’s stone which is hidden in the school, is refereeing) there is another character who is fighting his own battle. At the beginning of the chapter we find Neville Longbottom stumbling into the Gryffindor common room, his legs stuck together with a binding curse. Hermione undoes the curse and the golden trio starts telling neville how he should fix his bullying issue with Malfoy. Hermione tells him to tell McGonagall and Ron tells him that he needs to stand up for himself more. This of course overwhelms Neville who snaps back and tells them that he doesn’t want anymore trouble and he definitely doesn’t want to be told he isn’t brave enough to be in Gryffindor by not standing up for himself. Harry, the odd voice of reason here, reassures Neville that he is worth “12 of Malfoy” and is braver than he thinks. Later they head out to the quidditch match and while Harry is out playing, Draco starts with his bullying of Neville and this time Ron in the stands. There Neville repeats what Harry said about him being 12 of Malfoy and Ron cheers him on, thus ensuing a fight where the two boys attack Draco, Crabbe and Goyle.

Neville embodies this week’s theme: standing up for yourself.

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Neville is one of those characters who will go through a major metamorphosis throughout the series. Rowling doesn’t give us much to work with in understanding why he is so timid in this book, but as the series goes on and we discover more of his story, we will start to see him not only grow but be understood better. I love this chapter because Neville and I share a lot of the same sentiment in how we view ourselves. For me, my bully is the anxiety that lives with me, constantly there to remind me I’m not as brave or smart or capable as others, for Neville he has Draco and sometimes even his friends (who don’t seem to do it on purpose). I’ve noticed though that in law school it’s not always something like an anxiety disorder that bullies people into similar thoughts. A lot of times it’s something as simple as self-doubt, stress, worry and just feeling lesser than our peers.

It’s easy to get bogged down by mental health issues and start to feel like a fraud. Neville feels like he maybe shouldn’t be a Gryffindor, and I know for myself and countless others a lot of 1L students feel like they shouldn’t be law students at all, that the school made a mistake in allowing them to attend. The key though is to start believing the opposite. When Harry tells Neville he is worth 12 of Malfoy and Neville believes it, he stands up for himself. He may have ended up getting a little too confident in trying to take on Crabbe and Goyle, but he stood up for himself and the seed of confidence was planted.

For me, after feeling like a failure in controlling my anxiety at the Law Stars event and then in a lot of my conversations and interactions after that, I found a little confidence in getting back a paper. If you remember a few blog posts back I told everyone I received one of the lowest grades in my class on a paper (that grade being an 8.4/10). This week we received our second memo back and I was almost in tears at seeing a 9.5 as a grade. Now it’s still not the best (which my perfectionist mind loves to remind me), but it’s progress and progress that give me enough confidence to go forward into the final few weeks of the semester knowing that I’m not a fraud and can handle this. It helps to quiet the bullying voice of my anxiety that keeps trying to keep me from doing great things. It helps me stand up for myself.4645bd8df0f245e1e71515fb05359f27

The key to standing up for yourself is to cherish the little triumphs. Whether it’s making great networking connections, seeing progress in classes, feeling like you understand a topic or just being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, whatever it is cherishing those moments can help you take steps forward to overcoming the doubt inside, the stress in front of you and the things trying to pull you back. Mental health is a very key part of law school, and a lot of people don’t talk about their issues. A lot of people put on a front and try to remain strong and confident in front of their peers because of the competition between us all. The thing is, not being able to talk about and share your mental health issues or experiences makes the world a very lonely place, especially when you start to find out that a lot of people around you, the ones you are hiding your problems from have the same problems and can fight the bullies alongside you. Neville would have never stood up to Draco and his goonies had Ron not fought with him and Harry not given him the nugget of courage to do so.

Mental health issues shouldn’t be something we are ashamed of, because they are part of who we are. If we shine a light on them, talk about them and share our experiences (triumphs and defeats) with others we gain more people fighting in our corner with us. There are no better triumphs then being able to face your bullies with your friends beside you. I know that I couldn’t make it through this semester without people cheering me on and pushing me forward when I just want to quit. Face your fears, face your bullies and keep moving forward with the people who care about you.

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed