Tuesday, September 6, 2011

labor day

Hopefully, everyone received an actual day off yesterday - not just a Biglaw day off, which means you still work, only without a secretary or cafeteria.

I spent the long weekend on Fire Island with Kathy and the kids, closing up our cottage and visiting a few houses which could be options for next year, should we be able to continue to have a summer place there.  I spent a lot of time thinking about my own labor, on this day devoted to the contributions of laborers, and what short- and long-term work-related plans might look like. 

(the Cherry Grove ferry dock)

When I quit my job, about five months ago, I was fairly certain that it was the end of my legal career.  I hated my job so much that I was willing to walk away from a six figure salary with six figures of law school debt hanging over my head.  I hated it so much that it has taken me five months for the tension and bitterness to drain away, so that I can consider my options with a truly open mind.  I hated it so much that it has taken me all this time to realize that truly, underneath it all, it is not the practice of law I loathe, but practicing law at a big New York law firm.  And to think that maybe, just maybe, there could be a law practice out there that I will find fulfilling rather than soul-draining.  

Basically, where I find myself is in a deep chasm of uncertainty.  I don't know if I want to go to grad school.  I'm afraid not to, since that was, after all, the Plan, but I'm also afraid to invest time and money in more school when I'm not sure.  I don't know if I should find a part time job to fill the hours and give some structure to my days, or find a part time legal job, or no job at all until March.  I'm afraid if I try to find a job, there won't be one.  I'm afraid if I do find a job, it will gradually edge out all the other things I have been doing with myself this year that I'm finding fulfilling.  And what's worse, I don't even know how to start figuring these things out. 

So this is one of my big secrets about making major life changes.  You can't actually figure it all out in advance.  Sometimes, you just don't know until you're in the midst of it what it will all feel like.  I had the best of intentions in creating the Plan, so that I could quit my job and feel like I had some sense of where I was heading.  But I didn't.  It wasn't until I was actually here, in this place, five months later, with the after-effects of that horrible job finally slipping into memory, that I can even start to think about what to do next.  It's hard to quit a job (or anything else, for that matter), and answer, "I don't know" to all those people who ask you, "If not this, then what?" 

So when it comes to my future career, in the short or long term, I don't know what's next.  All I know is that I have to take each step as it comes.  Going to law school really felt like the right decision, and I loved it.  Quitting Biglaw really felt like the right decision, and it was.  So I'm going to wait on grad school, and maybe try to find some part time work (legal or otherwise) that I find interesting to keep my mind engaged and my days somewhat structured, and wait until the next step comes along that feels really, truly right. 

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