Grim Defeat (PoA 9)

Law school and friendships have one thing in common: an overwhelming feeling of defeat always looming with every interaction… or maybe that’s just my anxiety talking.

There is a difference between an actual defeat and a perceived defeat. A lot of the time we run into these little things we see as huge defeats. Whether its losing a friend over something silly, not getting to eat somewhere you’ve always wanted, missing out on big events in life, not doing cool things for holidays or something as simple not getting your way. These defeats are frustrating, but they are small battles lost, and usually they are lost because they are meant to be lost. Real defeats occur when there are no options left on the table, when you’ve done all you can and you are stuck with the results. Perceived defeats always have more options left on the table.

This chapter of Harry Potter, aptly titled Grim Defeat, shows a lot defeats both perceived and real. it begins the same night that the Fat Lady’s portrait has been destroyed. Everyone is sleeping in the Great Hall as the Professors check every part of the castle for Sirius Black. As classes resume that week, Professor Lupin is out ill, Snape teaching the class in his place, giving the students homework on Werewolves, a subject they have yet to cover. Quidditch takes place a few days later and during the game dementors attack as Harry goes for the Snitch. The result is Harry falling from his broom hundreds of yards above the ground. He wakes up in the infirmary only to find out that the Hufflepuffs won the match and Harry’s broom was destroyed by the Whomping Willow.

One of the best showcases of a perceived defeat in the chapter is in the description of Oliver Wood’s reaction to Gryffindor’s loss of the match. When asked where he is, Fred replies: “Still in the showers…. We think he’s trying to drown himself.” Disappointment is a real branch of defeat. It always seems to occur when you feel like you’ve been defeated. Here Wood is true disappointed over losing the match, something that happened due to circumstances out of his hands. He stands in the shower unable to see ahead, to figure out his options, to know if there is a way for the Gryffindor team to make a triumphant comeback during the season. The defeat is not concrete yet, but doused in some disappointment and heightened expectations, this perceived defeat can feel very real.

My life tends to be composed of perceived defeats.  This past week I had it in my head that I wanted to have a cool Fourth of July Adventure. I wanted the food, the fireworks, the friends, the parties, everything. At the end of the day, I had the friends, but not the other cool things that I kept seeing pop up on Instagram. It was not that huge of a deal, but in my mind I felt defeated. I felt sad, disheartened.  The thing is, I could have done some many things. There were so many options left. I could have done so many things to get out my disappointment, but instead like Oliver Wood, I stood in my sorrows and let them take over.

For me, a lot of my perceived defeats come from my need to be a people pleaser. Instead of going for the things I want, I tend to sacrifice those wants for others wants. I like to make things easier and go along with everyone else. My entire life has been built on this desire to be the person that goes with the flow. And in my mind that meant to do whatever everyone else wants to do. But it’s not healthy because it ends up in the exact same way it always does: my feeling defeated. My trip to Italy showed me that I needed to stop this behavior, and my Fourth of July sadness for like the 3rd or 4th year in a row showed me the same thing.

So here’s my advice (well my boyfriend’s advice) to myself and to everyone else… don’t get bogged down int he need to people please, don’t get bogged down in the expectations of the world, social media or the people around you. Go for what you want, realize that you are the one who controls your life and that there are no real defeats in everyday life. There are always more options… there are always more opportunities. Even when there doesn’t feel like there are, realize that things happen for a reason, you just have to find that silver lining, fixate on that and keep pushing forward. Defeat never hangs around long…

Lose a Quidditch match? Who’s to say that you’ve lost the entire championship yet?

Have your broom destroyed? Why can’t you get an even better one later?

Have a holiday that doesn’t turn out the way you hoped? Go find the fun in whatever else you wanna do!

At the end of the day, don’t fall victim to your defeats… Control those defeats!

Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.    – Dumbledore

So go turn on the light.

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed.

Talons and Tea Leaves (PoA 6)

Being in a foreign country is amazing. From the sights to the food to the immense challenges of having to learn a whole new place, being away from home opens you up to brand new experiences left and right. While there are many similarities in each culture, there are vast differences that sometimes make you uncomfortable (both in good ways and in bad ways). The key to dealing with being uncomfortable is watching how you react.

A_real_life_Hippogriff_from_Harry_Potter_exists_in_UgandaIn this chapter it’s the first day of school. Harry’s third year classes begin with Divination, a strange class in a strange part of the castle. The students embark on a journey of tea leaves and fortune telling. For some this is very intriguing and real, for others its very “fake news” like. By the end of class Hermione is angry (not believing in any of this nonsense) and Harry is told he will die. The students head to Transfiguration, where Professor McGonagall weighs in on the subject of Harry’s predicted demise and divination as a whole, having very similar thoughts to Hermione’s. The class ends and Ron calls Hermione out on not liking Divination just because she isn’t good at it. After lunch they head down to the forest to meet Hagrid. It’s Hagrid’s first day teaching and he brings out Hippogriffs. Hagrid explains to the class that Hippogriffs are very proud creatures and not to insult them. Harry volunteers to try and gain the Hippogriffs trust and manages to ride the creature for a little while. Soon after every students is given the chance to subdue these creatures and everything goes well until Draco manages to insult one and is attacked. Draco ends up in the hospital wing with some cuts and Hagrid ends up drowning his sorrows and anxiety of being fired with some alcohol.

IMG_1296
The Italian Supreme Court 

Two of my favorite new experiences on my study abroad trip were learning about Italian Criminal Law and taking a tour of the Juvenile Dentition center in Naples. Much like the Hogwarts students, these experiences were different and a bit uncomfortable. Learning from teachers who spoke Italian as their first language and english as their second language made class difficult to understand at times. Many students in my class were completely appalled at the idea of lecturing from power points (which with jet lag and little sleep could be hard to follow along with). Everything was new and different.

We learned the key difference between American Criminal law and Italian criminal law was the end goal. In America punishment is the key. You did something wrong and now you must pay. Whereas in Italy rehabilitation is the key. You did something wrong, we can work together to fix it and give you a new hope in society. Then when we took time to go and tour the juvenile detention center we saw this concept in action.

IMG_1294
View from the top of the Constitutional Court in Rome 

I’ve been to a similar center here in Colorado as part of my American Criminal Law class.  The detention center here was like any other prison. The kids wore uniforms and didn’t have many freedoms. There were opportunities to learn trade skills, but the real goal was for the kids to do their time and learn that what they did was wrong. In the Italian deletion center, the kids wore regular clothes, smoked cigarettes, played basketball and gardened. They had to chose a trade to learn (ceramics, pizza making, baking, nativity scene making, etc.). The goal was to get these kids a second chance when they left.

While the two systems are somewhat alike, the way the kids seem to be treated are very different (from what I’ve experienced). The kids in Italy didn’t seem to be treated like prisoners, but like kids who needed guidance. The directors of the detention center spoke of the children as if they were misled by the greater society and no one else. There was a caring aspect to the directors, a sense that these kids needed their help because maybe their parents weren’t around and their only role models were those already doing criminal acts. In America it feels as if troubled youths are treated as and told that they are just bad people who need to figure out right from wrong and quickly.

As we left either class or the detention center, it was interesting to watch the discussion grow from our experiences. Some were uncomfortable with what they saw, mainly how the directors interacted with the youths and how no one (directors included) wore uniforms. Others seemed to be hit with compassion, and even further, others seemed to not care at all. Those who were uncomfortable with their experiences in Italian Criminal Law were usually much like Hermione or Professor McGonagall or even Draco: they made sure people knew where they stood on the matter. They felt uncomfortable and needed other to know about it. It’s something we all do. When we feel out of sorts we either cope by trying to find like-minded individuals or we ignore how we feel entirely and move on. Rarely do we sit down and try to pinpoint what makes us uncomfortable, where those feelings come from and how to process them next.

This is a key part of being a lawyer though. We have to find a way to look at every side of an issue. We have to be able to rationally look at something, push away our feelings and see every side. Now that’s not to say we can’t have feelings about things. Our gut-feelings are the most important part of intuition and doing what we deem is right, but being able to step out of yourself and see the other side, engage with another part of society or set of ideals… that’s what’s really important. While the Italian goal of rehabilitation seems outlandish against the ideas of American Punishment, I think there are some good facets of believing in the good of others and trying to help them see that good and make it blossom.

Seeing through the eyes of another, being immersed in the culture of another is hard. We are all hardwired to be prideful and ask for others to bow down to our ideals first before we will even consider their ideals (much like a hippogriff) and the second someone insults our ideals, we attack and leave a trail of hurt behind us. It’s not easy to set down that pride and let yourself see another way of doing things, but it’s important in law school and in law. Compassion for others is hard, but it is quintessential and all it takes is seeing the world the way they see it.

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed

PS: I don’t have any pictures of the dentition center in Naples because they took our phones before going in.

The Dementor (PoA 5)

It’s been quiet around here for the last month. It was hard to find time in Italy to sit and write, and can you blame me?? I’ll share some pictures throughout the next few posts! What an amazing trip, with amazing people, in an amazing place.

IMG_0699
The beach near school at sunset

For those of you who don’t know why I was in Italy, I went on a study abroad trip (yes, those exist in law school). We were in Sorrento, Italy, a beautiful coastal town in southern Italy. During the day (M-Th) we attended classes, which included Comparative Corporate Governance, Intro to Italian Law, Comparative Competition Law, and Comparative Drug Policy. Each class had a different interesting aspect, many times in ways I never thought I would find interesting. Two of the classes were taught by Italian professors while the other two were DU professors. Outside of class we were free to explore, travel, and eat A LOT of pasta and pizza.

Now you can see why I didn’t have much time to blog while I was away. Now, I’m back and ready to make up for lost weeks and posts (we still have to make it through another 4.5 books!).

This chapter is aptly named Dementors. We find the Golden Trio on their journey back to Hogwarts. Harry, who overheard a conversation about Sirius Black coming for him, can’t wait to tell Hermione and Ron what is happening. They pick a room on the train to talk (Professor Lupin, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher sleeping in the corner of this train compartment) and Harry tells his friends everything he’s heard. A bit into their journey the train stops, which they find odd since they are not near Hogwarts yet. Ron senses movement outside the train. The lights go out and the train gets cold. Suddenly there’s a ghost like hooded figure in the doorway of their compartment. Harry hears screaming and faints, convulsing on the ground. Professor Lupin jumps up getting rid of the creature with a spell. When Harry comes to, everyone looks worried. No one else had a fainting spell or heard screaming. Ron says the creature (demeanor) made him feel as if he would never be happy again. They arrive to school only to be whisked away by Professor McGonagall who has Harry looked over by the school nurse. Dumbledore explains at the feast that Hogwarts will be playing host to the dementors this year and for students to take caution.

IMG_0725
Sorrento 

What I love about this chapter is that it starts with a journey home with friends. I’ve written a lot about having a tribe, a good support system, or making friends in law school. Being away for a month has made me even more certain that these staple people in your life are necessary. As Harry, Hermione, and Ron set out back to school, Harry feels this need to unpack some troubling thoughts on his friends, who welcome it. They joke, they laugh, and they worry for one another. When the dementor is gone and Harry comes to there’s this beautiful imagery of Hermione hugging Ginny who wandered into their room before the dementor appeared in the door way. Ginny is crying out of fear and Hermione is there to comfort her. Professor Lupin, a complete stranger to these students offers harry a chocolate bar (which is a ready to the effects of dementors) and Ron looks worriedly towards his friend, making sure he’s alright.

Being abroad for a month, where there’s a slight language barrier and none of your super close friends came with, makes you realize just how much you rely on others to be there for you. Looking back on my 1L year (which thankfully is done) there are a few key individuals that I met in law school that helped me succeed. There are also a lot of people who I wanted to be great friends and part of their support systems that just didn’t work out, which is okay in the end. Thinking on it now, my advice to incoming 1Ls this fall is this: don’t force it. I started out orientation with the idea that I need to befriend everyone, make a great first impression, be likable and loved by many. I tied my whole identity to being fun, agreeable, and cool. I mixed and mingled with a lot of people. I went to the bar, I went out, I joined study groups, I helped teach people the material before finals… I never said no.

When the Dementors came I wasn’t surrounded by everyone that I worked so hard to please all semester/year, instead I had a few people in my corner there to make sure I was okay or to hold me while I cried.

IMG_0833
Just your average people pleaser at Pompeii 

It’s easy to fall into the trap of being a people pleaser. We are constantly told over and over at orientation that your reputation starts now and will stay with you forever. While for some that means being cool and always having a good time, that doesn’t mean you have to always conform to other people’s standards, it doesn’t mean you have to make everyone like you, it doesn’t mean you have to be a people pleaser.

Stay true to who YOU are. Follow YOUR convictions. Do what feels right to YOU. Fill your corner with a few true friends and just be nice to everyone else. I’d rather have a Golden Trio of friends then a room full of Death Eaters when the dementors come.

 

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed

The Leaky Cauldron (PoA 4)

It’s been a whirlwind the past few weeks. This past Friday I jumped on a plane and 2 layovers later was in Paris. Another bus, plane and taxi and I made it to Sorrento, Italy. This small coastal town will be my home for the next month as I study. It’s a wonderful opportunity in law school to be able to study abroad and not only see the world but learn about how other overseas legal bodies work. For the next month I will be taking Intro to Italian Law, Comparative Competition Law, Comparative Corporate Governance and Comparative Drug Law all while eating pasta and seeing how the world works differently from America. Image.png

It’s quite funny how this chapter fits into the beginning of my trip. Harry is enjoying his stay at the Leaky Cauldron. He wanders around Diagon Alley looking at the shops. He then meets up with Ron and Hermione, hangs out with them a bit listening to Ron’s stories about his trip over the summer holiday. As they all get ready to leave to go to King’s Cross Station, Harry overhears a conversation by Mr. and Mrs. Weasley about himself and the criminal on the loose: Sirius Black.

What’s interesting about this chapter and my trip to Italy is found in one scene. As Harry walks around Diagon Alley alone he stops and looks into the shop window where the new Firebolt broom is on display. This new broom excites him. He would love to purchase it, to ride it, and he certainly has the money to do so (even without the price listed). Yet, he doesn’t. Harry never buys the broom but instead talks himself out of it. He walks away thinking about how okay his current broom is.

fca3956017afdd8e941b1746e83e016fWalking around in Italy there are so many things to stop and look at, to purchase, to spend money on, and for some there is little reflection as to whether this is a good or bad thing. For a lot of people that’s okay, it’s what they are wired to do, what they want to do and it’s not a bad thing to do by any means. For me, instead of purchasing items, spending money on trinkets this trip is more of a reflection on my life and the work I want to eventually do. This is a trip that allows for creativity to be released and enjoyed. It’s a trip to really gain perspective on the world I live in back home while enjoying exploring a new place and it’s possibilities. For me, it’s a trip to see how to continue changing the world I live in through adopting practices of another place.

Harry’s self-awareness was key in his situation. He thought about his impact, his responsibility, and how he was going to interact with the situation presented to him. And in Italy, it’s the same for me.

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed

 

The Knight Bus (PoA 3)

Two finals down, one to go.

Warner-Bros.-Pictures-Harry-Potter-and-the-Prisoner-of-Azkaban-13IN this chapter we find Harry mid-flee from the Dursleys’ home.  He’s afraid. He’s nervous and anxious. He’s grasping at straws trying to figure out what his next move should be. Harry stops to make a plan when he sees a pair of huge eyes on what appears to be a dog across the street from him. He points his wand towards it and suddenly is knocked off his feet when the Knight Bus arrives. He gets on the bus and lies about who he is saying his name is Neville Longbottom. On the Bus he finds out about Sirius Black, escaped prisoner of Azkaban. The bus soon takes him the Leaky Cauldron, where harry has planned to hide out until Gringotts opens and he can get all of his money and go live like an outcast (much like Sirius Black — at least he likens himself to Sirius at this point). Harry is met by the Minister of Magic at the Leaky Cauldron. Cornelius Fudge welcomes Harry, assures Harry he is not in trouble, not expelled from Hogwarts and that Aunt Marge is alright. Harry is confused by this but even more confused as to why Fudge wants Harry to stay at the Leaky Cauldron and travel no further than Diagon Alley “under the circumstances.”

When I came to law school I had no idea what to expect. Being 27 and living my entire life in a tourist attraction, made me gravitate towards moving somewhere a little more “real.” That meant Colorado. I came to law school because it had been a life long dream that I always thought was unattainable. I spent a lot of my life helping others, helping my mother raise my siblings, helping people, being as “selfless” as someone could be. I always felt like an outcast. I always felt like someone in the background. It was easier to pretend I was a nobody (similar to Harry using Neville’s name — even though Neville is a somebody not a nobody). When I finally got the guts to leave the sparkling neon city lights I was fearful of having to be a somebody. I was so use to my life as a self-proclaimed outcast (full of ideas, full of secret plans to help reshape the world) that having to be my own person felt selfish.

There was so much to learn, so much I didn’t know about the world around me, so much to try to understand. Everyone else seemed to have a basic knowledge of the law. Everyone seemed to mesh well together. Everyone seemed so sure and confident. I started to beat myself up. I didn’t have much grace or gentleness with myself. My anxiety and depression sky rocketed, which means I became meaner and meaner to myself. I pushed myself (and still do at times) to be like everyone else. I push myself to study like everyone else, to workout more, to eat differently, to join everything, to push further and faster… and I’m exhausted. It’s hard not having a huge support system like a lot of others around me have. It’s even harder doing law school with an anxiety disorder coming in (since a lot of people develop the disorder during law school). It’s hard fighting depression when you have anxiety, but it’s not impossible.

ABA-Alcohol-Abuse-InfographMay is mental health month. Taking a look at my own life and looking at Harry’s inner thoughts in this chapter, I don’t think there is a better topic than this to cover right here and right now (during good old finals as well). Mental health is an important part of who we are. When it comes to lawyers poor mental health, alcohol abuse and substance abuse happen at alarming rates. Even in law school we constantly find ourselves drinking at events, drinking at their after those events or after every exam. We stress ourselves out studying 12 hours a day, telling ourselves that if we don’t get one of the highest grades in the class on this final that we are failures, that we are going to be kicked out of law school.

We treat ourselves like Harry does in this chapter. He is picked up by the Knight Bus, hides who he is and then lets his mind panic. He plans on being an outcast, a young wizard on the run for the rest of his life because he made a mistake. He hears about Sirius Black, whom as Harry is told killed 13-14 people including muggle because he was crazy, and Harry immediately likens himself to this crazy criminal. Harry has no one to remind him of the good inside of him. Harry is anxious, full of panic and extremely hard on himself… and why wouldn’t he be? His whole life he has been kept in a cupboard, lied to, treated as if he was the household servant. He hasn’t been loved the way Ron or Hermione has been loved. He’s been treated like an outcast, so of course his first thought is to be an outcast.

We look at our failures in law school, our grades that aren’t as high as they should be (which are arbitrary at best since there is a curve and we aren’t even trying to show we know the material, instead we are playing to the professor’s likes and dislikes in our writing), our rankings, our participation as compared to others, our involvement in activities, our defeats and more… we look at all of this and decide who we are: either the best or the worst. We are hard on ourselves, I am hard on myself. Picking yourself up when you are down your whole life will have the effect on you. Taking care of everyone else and quieting your needs so that others’ needs are fulfilled over your own leaves little room for you to know how to take care of your own.

WB_F3_TheKnightBus_SqueezingBetweenTwoBuses_HP3-FX-08Harry always took care of everyone else and in a panic he didn’t know how to take care of his own needs or how to ask for someone to help him. This is something I relate to… the thing is, you can’t live your life that way. I learned this week about something called ‘self-full’. It’s that sweet spot in between being selfless and selfish. Its that spot where your needs are recognized and acknowledged alongside the needs of others. My hope is not that I get any sort of pity from this blog… but that anyone who is struggling with anxiety, anyone who is struggling with being gentle to themselves, anyone who feels like their mental health is depreciating, anyone who is feeling selfish or selfless… anyone who needs support… my hope is that you realize you are not alone.

We need to address mental health better in law school. We need to address mental health bettering K-12 schools. We need to stop the cycle of alcohol dependency and substance abuse. We need to create Self-full people who are mindful of their feelings and their lives. We need to show people who feel like outcasts that they are not outcasts or at least don’t have to be. We need to do better at showing people grace for their mistakes. We need to create a stronger society, a mentally healthy society. Take some time today and figure out where your weaknesses are. Pinpoint were your mental health is and be gentle with yourself. That’s what I’m trying today.

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed.

 

The Writing on the Wall (CoS 9)

What a week it has been. From school events and field trips to an inauguration, this week has been exhausting… but it’s also made me really think about the world we live in and how law school is starting to change that world view. A lot of people come into law school with a positive view on life. We think we can enact change in our careers. We aren’t necessarily in it for the six-figure salaries (which are always a perk), but we feel like we can make a change of more worth than any huge dollar amount. The thing is, we don’t always leave law school feeling that way. It’s the end of the first semester, and I can admit that at times I’ve lost that positivity, that purity of being on this journey to change the world and not much else.

But I have more hope after this week than any other week in this journey.

In our chapter of Harry Potter this week we find the Golden Trio with Mr. Filtch, Dumbledore, Snape, Lockhart, and McGonagall. They had just found Mrs. Norris petrified, and the words “The Chamber of Secrets has been opened. Enemies of the heir, beware” painted on the wall. Lockhart ushers everyone to his office to discuss what has happened. Harry fibs as to why they were all in that specific corridor at that moment, ashamed that he is hearing voices no one else can hear. As the weeks pass, Hermione has started investigating the Chamber of Secrets by reading books, asking professors about it in class, and then leading the trio to talk with Moaning Myrtle. The school is buzzing with fear, despair, and intrigue as to what the chamber of Secrets could be and to the identity of the heir.

In this chapter we see a lot of emotions flying around Hogwarts. One of the key moments is when Harry, who hates Flitch most days, feels extremely sad for Flitch and Mrs. Norris. When Harry should be upset because he is being accused of something he didn’t do, he takes a step back and realizes that in this moment someone else is hurting. It’s easy to become apathetic. It’s easy to point the blame away from you and lash out at others. It’s easy to forget that people are hurting on both sides of a confrontation. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in being upset that you forget to look at the big picture still. Yet, the key is to keep your eyes open for little glimpses of Pure Emotions.

People show up in different ways all the time. In moments of despair, people my act frantic and out of character, and it’s because they have no other choice but to act in this manner. In moments of fear, people may point fingers, shy away from confrontation, or even get angry. In moments of feeling inadequate, people may lash out or overcompensate. In moments of feeling apathetic, people may withdraw or become “lazy”. Every time a person changes how they act, it’s based on a pure emotion. Harry saw Filtch upset, frantic, and hurting. Harry only had a glimpse of this when he decided to look for it and process it.

The second semester of law school changes how people act and interact not only with each other and professors, but with their dreams and ambitions. Grades, competition, and fears start to tear people down. Law students start to become tired, start to feel inadequate, start to feel the need to overcompensate, or start to feel the need to push themselves even harder because staying at the top is hard. Our main focus though doesn’t need to be on grades and competition, but truly, our main focus needs to be on the human side of the law. It needs to be on what makes us human, what makes each other human and how we still want to have an effect on humanity.

If the women’s marches all around the world yesterday proved one thing, it’s that we need to remember that we are fighting  not each other, but together. We all have a responsibility to each other (one that should not be taken lightly nor abused by others) to fight for one another. So this week, whether you are in law school or not, look around you and see the human next to you for a moment. Take a step back and look at their behavior and reflect on it. Maybe that human next to you needs a word of encouragement, maybe they need a hug, maybe they need affirmation or maybe they just need someone to tell them a joke. Whatever it is, remember this is why many of us came to law school… to make a difference in the human lives all around us.

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed