I am so excited to finally be admitted to the Washington State Bar Association as a new attorney. It took three years of law school, plus three years and four attempts at the Bar Exam before I finally reached this goal.
It’s so odd to summarize the last six years of my life in such a streamlined way, because living it was complicated, messy, scary, exhausting, and hard. From all this hardship though, these past six years have also made me the proudest I’ve ever been to be myself living my life. I feel so grateful to my family and friends who have stuck by me through everything that’s happened, and who continue to stand by me as I enter a new chapter in my life. I feel so proud of myself that I overcame failure in order to achieve a goal. Yes it took me longer than most, but as my sister says, “you move in your own Karen pace.” And not all of it was bad. In fact some of the best things happened. During these hard years, I have learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of. I’ve evolved into a stronger and more self-assured version of my past self. I’ve also been in the best relationship of my life with an amazing man who inspires me and brings out the best in me. I’ve done a lot of cool stuff in my years spent working in the food and service industry. I feel like a badass and have made a lot of friends that I wouldn’t have gotten to know if my life followed a linear progression of college –> law school –> lawyer. Life is not always easy, but that’s what makes it interesting and worth it.
I’m excited about having a new set of challenges to face as a new lawyer woman of color. I know that most people will not take me seriously at first, for a variety of reasons. I am ready to take that in stride and work my way up. It will definitely suck, but I’ll show my mettle. It’s what I’ve worked so hard all these years for. The opportunity to practice, and all the challenges and successes that come with earning my name.
In my bleakest hours of intense studying, I pictured myself dusting off my old suits and being back in the courtroom. But instead of feeling nervous or fumbling like I did before, I envisioned a a stronger Karen who’s been through some shit and was ready to stand up proudly and make the best case for a client. I envisioned a version of myself whose hard work finally paid off, and who was able to pursue the career she wanted. I envisioned long nights sitting at a desk looking through case law until finally finding something that works for my client’s case. The rush of that. The feeling of crafting an argument. The strategy. The nuance, the subtlety, the boldness. Not just in writing, but in speaking, and in my professional relationships. I imagined finally finding my voice one day. And all the strange and interesting and inspiring people I would meet. The work of trying to change someone’s life for the better. The feeling of being there for someone who feels alone. The feeling of practicing law, something that is constantly evolving, living, breathing, and affecting millions of lives.
Now the dream is becoming a reality. I’ve passed the bar, I’ve been sworn in, I am awaiting my bar number.
I know the road ahead will not be easy, and there is so much I have to learn, but that is honestly how I view life – Life is not always easy, and there is always more to learn. I don’t worry too much about all the mistakes I am definitely going to make, whether I like it or not, as a new attorney. Maybe I’ll be embarrassed, but I sure as hell am not going to let a mistake hold me back. I failed three bar exams and can still hold my head up; there is only shame if you don’t learn from mistakes and grow from them. I’m excited to be challenged in a new way. I’m excited for a new kind of hard.
It feels weird to finally achieve a goal – like, I have to come up with some new ones 🙂 Life doesn’t stop just because you achieve your goal or not… that’s what I learned. I’ll always feel like I have to work hard to keep up, but I think that’s part of the fun. Figuring out what I want to do, and facing whatever comes my way in my pursuit of my goals. Changing my goals if it suits me. Being surprised at who I become in the process of feeling out who I want to be. Being surrounded by my family and closest friends… Life is nuts, it’s amazing, it’s hard as hell, it’s maddening and beautiful.