Albert Camus said, “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
Look, it’s the bar exam. We are not actually suffering here, we are privileged. This thing you are going do tomorrow and the next day and, depending what state you’re in, maybe even the day after that is very difficult, but the opportunity to do it is a gift. You are trying out to be a member of one of the two great professions. To be an officer of the court. It is an honor.
Now, let’s set perspective aside. What you are doing right now is really stinking hard. And it is really scary. Your ability to practice the thing you spend all these years and money on rests largely on this test. And, for the kicker, your failure, should you fail, will be public. Other than the end goal, every single bit of this whole thing is terrible.
I always thought it was really just the twist of the knife that the bar exam is in the middle of the summer. Wouldn’t it be less wretched to spend all your waking hours at a desk in February? Your summer has been lousy. You have stayed inside on beach days. You have passed up dinners and drinks and walks and talks. Quality time with loved ones has been sacrificed, again and again, for “quality time” with flashcards and questions. You probably have a Vitamin D deficiency. Applying to be a member of the bar isn’t a tragedy, it’s a distinction. But it is miserable.
And it’s almost over.
You may not have not saved the world this summer, but you have done something really amazing. You have learned more than you have ever learned before or will ever learn again in a crazy, all out, bet-the-farm, two-month-long sprint to the finish line. Now, tonight, you have done all you can do of what you never knew you could do.
You are invincible. Tomorrow morning you are going to roll into that test and roll out the fruits of your labor. You are going to kill it.
And, after the test is over? You will become yourself again instead of bar robot you. Food will have flavor, people will be funny again, and you’ll return your mother’s phone calls.
And, more? You will have a month of summer left. There will be fireflies and meadows and lakes. You should spend a night outside on a blanket staring up at the stars. You should spend a day hiking in the woods and find a rock in the sun upon which to sit. For hours. You should swim, in the ocean, naked.
Because you will still be invincible.
This post also appears at Belly Up to the Bar Exam, where I spent the summer chronicling what it was like to be a lawyer with a spouse studying for the bar exam.