Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

By Steph Nelson:

A Flaw That I Did Not Know That I Had as an African American Female in Law School

I can never say enough about law school. It changed my life. I didn’t grow in the ways that I thought that I would grow going into law school, especially as an African American female. I grew as a person. I was expecting to be top of my class, be an amazing student, and receive a full ride scholarship after my first year. I am happy to say, that none of that happened. Instead, law school showed me where weaknesses were. It wasn’t in my academics; it was in mindset. A lesson that I learned that I am going to discuss in this article is personal to my journey. It is not anything about outlines, or study groups, or professors. I may make an article about those things eventually, but this is more about something that I learned about me as a person. I am not sure who will be helped by this, but I think that it is a lesson that a lot more people can relate to than they realize, whether they went to law school or not.

This was the major flaw that I learned about myself while in law school: I don’t like to try if I think that I will fail. This comes with a lot of other issues that already existed, that I will try to explain along with this flaw.

I never realized how scared of failure I was until I went to law school. Even growing up as a black woman, I was more scared of failure in law school than anything else. I guess it is because I thought I had something to prove. I think the reason that it was so apparent to me in law school, is because it was the first time I ever really had to face it. I wasn’t scared of law school until everyone told me that I should be. I doubted myself more than I ever had. I was my own undoing. Law school is not hard; it just takes a lot of hard work. That being said, once I got into my own head, I no longer believed in myself, and I started playing it safe. I did not try hard in class, I did not try hard in mock trial the second time that I did it, I did not try hard at anything. I figured that way, if I failed, I wouldn’t feel as bad. What kind of loser mentality is that?!

That was probably one of the worst decisions I ever made in my life. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I kind of played it safe my whole life. Sure, I was more adventurous prior to law school, and I use to try way harder in undergrad. However, I still came to the conclusion that I have only given one thing in my life 100%. That is the honest truth. I always thought that I was a very hard worker – but I really wasn’t. I worked hard, but I played everything safe, so I was never giving everything my all.

The crazy part about it all, is that when I really tried for an important test, my MPRE, I failed. I was livid. I was furious. A lot of people fail the MPRE the first time around, but I did not want to be one of those people. And to be honest, I should not have been one of those people. Not because I am any smarter than them – that is certainly not the case. It was because, intellectually, I was more than capable of doing it, but mentally, I was not. I realized that all this time, I thought that not trying would not make me fail, and really trying would make me pass. That wasn’t the answer.

The answer was all about my mentality. My mentality was so beaten down by my own negativity, that I could not even properly study because I was prepared to fail, or because I was prepared to do the bare minimum so that if I were to fail, the punch would not hurt as bad.

That is crazy isn’t it? I became such a negative thinker, that I am still working on changing my mindset. It is a daily battle trying to keep things positive in my head and give things my all. I am a fighter, so nothing will stop me. But in a way, I damaged my self-confidence, my self-esteem, and my belief in myself. In the beginning, I thought that law school caused this issue in my life. I now realize, that it simply revealed it.

I still have a ton of work to do rebuild my confidence in myself, to not be afraid of failure, and to be more positive, but I am working on it. The pressure and craziness of law school allowed me to see these issues in myself in a way that I do not think I would have seen had I not went to law school. So for that, thank you law school. I hope to use what I learned there to help myself, and to help others. I have also gotten involved with a number of groups and organizations that have helped to continue the advance of American Americans and eliminate racism to help reuite black families in today’s society. Many of these groups have helped me to develop the skills and confidence I need to continue to down this path of imminent success.


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