When you go to law school, it's not enough to graduate on time--it doesn't even matter if you're in the top ten of your class (although that helps a lot). You need to pass the bar exam, preferably on the first try. Now if you can't do that, you're not going to DIE or anything. No one's going to put you in front of a firing squad, publicly burn you at the stake, or skin you alive and leave you for dead. However, the law culture in the United States of America is so sick and twisted, so mentally contaminated, so toxic that you would THINK that all of those things (and more) are going to happen to you if you fail the bar on the first try.
I don't know why our culture steeps our aspiring young lawyers in such toxic messages of "success." I don't know why we insist on repeating the message, "If you fail this test, you are the biggest, most worthless piece of sh*t in the world." I don't know WHY we think that educating ANY PERSON in ANY field in this manner is beneficial to ANY of us. The amount of pressure that we (collectively as society--law students, professors, lawyers in the field, non-lawyers who rely on hiring lawyers) put on these students is incomprehensible and completely detrimental to society as a whole. I don't understand it, I don't want to understand it--I just know that I want it to change, and I think that it's wrong that my sister and her colleagues have endured it. My only hope is that Leslie and her friends won't unintentionally perpetuate this message to the lawyers who come up behind them. Hell, maybe they'll actively participate in changing the culture itself. Maybe one day students won't confuse passing this exam on the first try with their actual self-worth as human beings. And maybe one day those who do fail on the first try will easily remember that "FAIL" does NOT mean the same thing as "UTTER PIECE OF SH*T--TOTALLY UNDESERVING OF ALL GOOD THINGS IN THE WORLD." Until that happens, however, the field of law will continue perpetuating a need for the fields of psychology and psychiatry. Big time.
|All of them passed on the first try--congrats, Ladies!|
So anyway, by the grace of God and some super expensive Barbri classes, Leslie somehow pulled herself through the exam prep, the actual exam, and the wait period for exam results. She was so utterly convinced that she failed the exam--SO UTTERLY CONVINCED--that I found myself on a train after class on Friday to get downtown in time for the 4pm release of the results. Sometimes when you get bad news, you should be by yourself and other times you should be other people. I had made the executive decision that this was a case of the latter, not the former.
I hopped off the train and started walking toward Leslie's office. My plan was just to sit in the lobby--I'd be right there if she needed me, and if she didn't I could go hang out somewhere else and meet up with her later. Turned out, she had already left her building and headed over to the lobby of Four Seasons. That's where I found her, white as a ghost and looking like she might throw up on the most expensive carpet in the city (an impossibility, anyway, since she hadn't eaten all day). She had cued up the necessary webpage and scrolled to her portion of last name initials without really looking, but to really, really look for her name she bolted into the lobby bathroom and sat down in front of the vanity. Before I could even say anything, she tossed down her phone and began sobbing, "It's not there! My name's not there!" (People who pass on are ON the list. If you've failed, your name simply doesn't show up.) I'm all like, "Oh come on, you barely even glanced," but I quickly became quiet when I started scrolling through the names and realized that her name was missing from where it should've been.
I didn't know what to do. I hadn't planned for this at all. While Leslie had taken it for granted that she had failed, I had totally decided that she had passed and didn't question the other outcome. But here it was--the other outcome.
Leslie had retrieved her phone from the floor at this point and was sobbing and saying something like, "I need to email my boss about this right now--" and I'm grabbing at her phone, trying not to yell, "You are in no frame of mind to be sending a professional email right now! Not right now!"
(I should add that, yes, we WERE the only people in this bathroom. Someone else would've called the cops by now.)
And then I got an idea. I just kept thinking, This is IMPOSSIBLE. She couldn't have failed! It's not possible! And so I said, "Hit refresh! Refresh the page! Your name just has to be there!" So she did.
And her name was there. Just like that. "Oh my God," she said in the tiniest voice. "I passed." And then much louder. "OH MY GOD I PASSED." I started laughing and saying something with way too many F-bombs laced through it, and then Leslie really started laughing, and then we both said, "WE NEED TO CALL MOM!"
You should've heard the way my mother answered the phone--I've never heard her say, "Hello?" like that before. She sounded like she might throw up too. When I told her she passed, I barely could say another word before she yelled, "I'm calling your grandmother!!!" and she hung up. I started literally texting everyone in my phone, and Leslie was on the phone with one of her best friends (a dental student who just found out that she had passed three major exams of her own). Leslie ran back to work hoping to be dismissed for the day. (Everyone was really happy for her, and then they gave her another assignment to do.)
I went in and out of the stores around Rittenhouse (listening to the top 20 of this year's XPN countdown--saving that for its own post) and then we went to El Rey for dinner around 8pm. All Leslie wanted was a margarita and Mexican food, and I wasn't about to stand in her way. We both tried their classic and mango margaritas (not sure if I could pick a favorite), as well as their nachos, fish tacos, and short rib enchilada. It was the best meal ever--truly celebratory. As the minutes ticked by, you could visibly see the pressure lifting off of Leslie's heart and mind. Nearly six months of heart-stopping pressure. Totally inhuman. Is the bar exam a big deal? Of course--it sets a standard of excellence for a field, but it's so overrated. It's an EXAM. In the grand scheme of the universe, it means less than nothing. But that day, it meant everything.
We ran (with two weeks worth of Leslie's dirty laundry) for the 11:15pm train and I walked in my own door around 1230. What a day.
I said it a million times on Friday, but I'll say it again: You never have to take it again. Not ever! You're done. (Same for you Eileen--congratulations!)