My alarm buzzed quietly at 6:30 this morning, but I was already wide awake. My mind had been racing since I got into my bed just seven hours before. This could have been because last night’s Game of Thrones episode absolutely murdered my mind, but mostly it was because I was nervous. All night, I tossed and turned, experiencing a nightmarish adult version of the anticipation that a child feels on Christmas Eve. Instead of waiting for a fat guy to slide down my chimney and shower me in gifts, I was waiting for my very first law school Contracts class at 8 a.m.
Last night, as I sat in the extra bedroom of my house that my roommate and I have attempted to designate as an “office,” I completed my first reading assignment. It took me an hour and a half to painstakingly read through 26 pages of my casebook. This was one of the wordiest, most pretentious pieces of literature I have ever read. The last thing I want to do is get my ass kicked in by my new professor on the first day of class, so I took some notes, highlighted things I thought might be important, etc. The only thing is: I’ve never really read legal cases before, so I actually don’t even know what I’m supposed to be looking for.
As excited as I was to start law school today, I also felt an unnerving sense of being thrown into deep water with concrete shoes on. I don’t even know how to read legal casebooks, let alone take useful notes on them. At this point in time, I’m just kind of bullshitting until I get a better idea about what is supposed to be going down. This is exactly what I was afraid of.
I’m going into grad school with a completely different mindset as compared to when I started undergrad. Now, I feel a greater sense of not only motivation, but responsibility. This is less like school, and more like starting my professional career. I can’t exactly skip class every Friday or hide from my professors in the back row on days when I’m hungover. This is a whole new ball game, and one I’m not familiar with.
I threw on a J. Crew tee, olive green jeans, and my trusty New Balance tennis shoes that I’ve been rocking since my frat rat years in true millennial fashion. I put on my glasses and grabbed a cup of coffee. I packed my backpack up last night, 15-pound casebook and all. School is literally 2.2 miles from my house, and I left for school 17 minutes before class started.
Turns out, traffic in this college town is a little worse than expected at 8:00 in the morning, and at 7:55, I was peeling into the parking lot. At 7:57, I speed-walked through the building and yanked the door to my classroom open. Fifty pairs of eyes met mine, and I swear to God, there were 3 open seats left. My professor, a 60-something-year-old bald man with a white beard, made a comment about people showing up three minutes before class. I’m pretty sure I started to sweat profusely at this point. I practically ran up to the top row and sat next to some dude I met last week at orientation. In my panic, I had failed to notice that my chair was arranged right next to a giant column right smack dab in the middle of the classroom. Guaranteed this seat was only open because nobody else wanted to sit there. It was arranged in such a way that if the professor walked too far to the left of the room, he completely disappeared behind this behemoth of a column, and I was stuck listening to his voice, waiting for him to come back into my view. Fantastic.
So I sit down, and immediately pull my book out. My law school was charitable enough to give all 1L students brand new iPads, so I pulled mine out to turn it on, just in case I had gotten any emails. Within 30 seconds, my professor makes this comment: “I see you guys must have read the syllabus, ‘cause I see a few computers. We’ll get to that in a minute.” Immediately, I think to myself, “…I didn’t really read this dude’s syllabus. I’m guessing we can’t use computers? Fuck.” I looked around and realized that I’m pretty much the only person with a computer out. I very quietly tried to stifle my impending panic attack, and slid my iPad very slowly back into my backpack.
So let’s assess my current situation: I’ve been here for maybe 3 minutes, am seated next to a giant column that impedes my vision, and so far, my professor has not only made a comment about my punctuality, but he also knows I didn’t read his syllabus in its entirety. My God. I am a failure. Call my parents, alert the press — I have made a huge mistake.
But, luckily for me, about five more people show up after I do, and by this time, they’re actually late. The only open seats left in the room include two broken desks, and a few free-standing chairs at the front of the room that aren’t even part of the seating chart. At least I wasn’t one of those chumps.
Shortly after humiliating the students who were late, my professor launches into his introduction. Turns out, computers are a big no-no in his class, something I had failed to read in his syllabus since I had just skimmed the entire thing looking for first-day assignments instead of reading classroom policies. I am now deathly afraid that this man will forever remember me as the dumbass who tried to get a computer out on the first day of class. I digress.
He only touched on our assigned reading for around 30 minutes and spent the rest of the time hashing on how difficult our 1L year is going to be. By the time he was done discussing how we should have known how to write briefs on the cases we read last night before we showed up to class today, I was having a quarter-life crisis right there in Classroom 6. As I looked around, I saw the same fear in everyone else’s eyes, the same sweating brows, and shaking hands. I have no idea what this dude is even talking about, and half of these words I need to look up in the law dictionary. Does anyone know what procedural posture is? I sure as hell don’t, but apparently I need to know by tomorrow.
My professor wrapped up class with a smile, and told us he is looking forward to seeing us in the morning. I have three more years of this. Three more years in which I will potentially make an ass of myself in class and/or silently sob into my Patagonia pullover in the bathroom stall. I’m so excited. Law school is going to be so much fun.
See you guys at happy hour. .
[Image via YouTube]