I dedicate this post to all the 2018 Graduates out there, I think you’re amazing. You’ve poured over hundreds of thousands of typed words, stayed up far too late to complete a task only to get to bed and not be able to fall asleep because you were worried the work you did was not enough. Maybe you woke up on too many mornings thinking that your day ahead was too difficult, too full. Maybe you juggled five classes, a part-time job, your families’ expectations, work experience, clerkship applications, maybe a few breakups, definitely some fun times and absolutely a handful of free LSA lunches in exchange for sitting through yet another PLT presentation AND you endured all of this madness all while trying to remember that the footnote needs to go AFTER the full stop (wait, was that just me?). In October of this year I was asked to deliver the Graduating Student Address to the end of year Law Ball at my university. I thought I’d reproduce my speech as a blog post here where you’ll find my anecdotes of my time at law school, a few attempts at humour and me doing by absolute best to do justice to the unbelievable hard work of my fellow 2018 Graduates. I don’t claim to have all the answers, I just simply don’t. In fact, I’m terrified of what lies ahead for me and I need your help with that; I have put together a list of lessons I’ve taken from the interwebs and from those more clever than I, a list of promises that I think we can look back to when we need them, as I fear the hardest parts of our journeys are still ahead.
1- Let’s promise to make friends without fear!
There will be times in our career that we will second guess ourselves, where we will fear what we propose to do next, and that’s okay! Remember that every single thought you’ve ever had and ever will have, is founded in biology in some way. Fear is the brains tool used protect us. Fear stopped you when you were climbing trees as a child just at the moment where you were about to climb too high. Fear taps you on the shoulder each time you cross the road, just to remind you to look both ways. Fear isn’t anything to be scared of, I like to think that fear can become a sort of friend who is just trying to look out for you. I guess you also have to know when to tell your fears to step aside, that you’ve got this and that you’re gonna give whatever scary thing happens to be in front of you your best shot.
Which brings me to promise number 2- Let’s promise to be kind to ourselves.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said that the only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be. I believe that with everyone buzzing around this crazy world at a million miles an hour, the most important relationship we will ever have is the one we have with ourselves. You’ll never speak to anyone nearly as much as you will speak to yourself, so don’t you dare spend your whole life putting yourself down.
3- Let’s not ever be boring!
Now there were plenty of quotes I found about being different when I consulted the all-knowing Google Image search, but, in keeping things simple I decided to use a quote by Sir Richard Branson; “it is only by being bold that you will ever get anywhere”. And to be honest, I’m going to listen to Sir Rich on this one (I don’t think we should doubt the guy who is responsible for sending people into space, for fun)! No but seriously, there is no greater injustice then you failing to be yourself. I believe that if you for some reason keep a part of yourself from the world, they’re not going to miss it, it’s only yourself that you are cheating, it’s a part of your own life your declining to live. So, don’t be boring!
4- Let’s not forget to put out the fishing net.
We’ve all no doubt heard from those our elder that should we make it to the top of our own personal summit that you’ve got to put out the ladder so that you can help someone else get a leg up, too. That way you’ve got someone to celebrate with, yeah? This all-important lesson has been particularly focused around women supporting other women, but I think it’s one all people should try to live by. Author Kristin Ferguson says that in 2018 we’ve got to ditch the ladder and instead use a fishing net. That is, raise as many people as you can up with you on your journey to success, this way you can turn that party of two into a proper shindig and you’ll have a whole lot more people beside you, the more the merrier! I believe if you’ve done the work, no one can take that away from you, let’s ditch the competition.
Last but not least, promise number 5- Do your best to weather the storms.
In 1999 Baz Lurman reworked into music an essay by advice columnist Mary Schmich and he called it ‘the Suncreen Song’. Schmich urges her readers to remember that most often, worrying is futile as “the real troubles in your life are apt to be things that will blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday”. This simply means the most challenging moments in your life, the moments of tragedy and actual trial, you won’t ever even contemplate, and certainly won’t get a chance to worry about in advance. So, don’t sweat the small stuff.
To all the graduates of 2018 out there, Congratulations! I don’t know about you but the day I got to wear my robes and throw that $80,000 cap in the air, was one of the proudest days of my life. It’s no easy feat but we’re also so incredibly lucky to have access to the gift of a university education. I wish you all the very best, I can not WAIT to watch each and every one of the graduates I know and to those reading this blog post flourish and do amazing things.
PS: Believe it or not this is my last post on the Student Edition of the Happy Lawyer Happy Life blog. To follow my adventures in lawland further you’ll have to find me on the Lawyers Edition of this fine website (I know, it’s weird for me too!)