This article was sent in to us by Akansha Rukhaiyar, a first-year at Jindal Global Law School (JGLS).
As I soaked in the new environment and diversity during my first few weeks at law school and interacted with students from all walks of life, I discovered how so many students have rebelled and defied the age-old “Engineer or Doctor” career option to embrace the beauty and complexities of legal systems and immerse themselves in the world of law. They fought for a different career choice, and succeeded. For them this would have led to higher expectations, since they do not want to hear “I told you so” if they fail to achieve what they want to as lawyers.
My story is a bit different, and in retrospect, makes me continuously question my decision of joining a law school (along with other decisions such as waking up at 8.50 am for a 9 am class) and has been messing with my head all semester. Through this article, I want to reach out to all those who have begun the long and arduous journey of standing out and carving a niche in a career path that is ingrained in their family.
I come from a family of lawyers. If I listed down the number of lawyers in my entire family, I am pretty sure I would reach half a century. Needless to say, expectations are sky high. Every conversation I have had with my father after I joined college-Jindal Global Law School- has been limited to law. The tsunami of law related facts and debates I am exposed to in familial settings, though enriching, has left me with a feeling that I’m drowning.
How did I end up choosing a career that so many experienced relatives would unhesitatingly critique and comment on? Can I do anything in this field that is not already being done in my family? Every move I make as a law student inadvertently gets discussed and analyzed by my parents and other relatives in the legal field. Don’t get me wrong, having a constant source of informed advice is a great thing, but it often results in a sea of opinions and instructions, with me on the verge of it, barely holding on.
In whatever few things I have achieved by the end of my first semester at law school, the feeling of doubt had always crept in, solely because I know my parents will receive it as lawyers first, and as parents second. This is where my college has come to rescue in a way. Even though I did not shift far in a geographical sense (My college/hostel is about two hours away from home), it helped me grasp the sliver of metaphorical space I would have lost had I not gone to a hostel.
At the end of the first semester, I have realized that this sudden increased burden of expectations will never lighten. It is something that I will have to balance for as long as I pursue law. Navigating through my next five years, through the phases of sleep-deprivation and caffeine induced study sessions will be a journey that I can predict as being clouded with very high expectations that only rays of self-belief and individuality can brighten.
My parents would have provided me with a map to follow with road signs at every decision point, but the last four months have taught me that I can still forge my own way. It will be difficult doing that among a cluster of already established routes traced by the lawyers in my family, but as I am about three weeks away from starting my second semester, I can’t wait to give it another shot.
Just because there are 50 lawyers in my family does not mean there cannot be a 51st way of doing things.
I just need to find that way.
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