Tuesday, February 1, 2011

There's a Lot of Screaming In My Head

I am very blessed to have two very supportive parents who apparently truly believe I am pretty great.  They have told me all my life how smart and how capable and how talented I am and how anything is possible.  This has completely screwed me up.  Apparently, I have taken their constant praise and positivity and ingrained it so deeply upon my soul that I now feel absolutely no need to prove myself whatsoever.  They have buoyed me up to the point that I am completely content.  I am neither ambitious nor competitive.  Sure, I like to be right, but I don't need to win.  I have no need or drive to be partner at a law firm.  I do not aspire to argue before the Supreme Court.  Some attorneys live for the opportunity to try a case, go to court, prove their mettle, beat the other guy into submission.  I will be quite content in my office, drinking coffee in front of the computer, writing the great arguments and then letting someone else go make the other side wish they hadn't put a suit on that morning.  I just don't have that gene.  I like recognition, sure, but I don't need to be the best.  I like myself just fine without having to convince anyone else.  I promise I am going somewhere with this.

As a requirement of graduation, we have to compete in a school-wide moot court competition.  Basically, you have a teammate and there's a legal issue with two parts to split between you.  You're assigned which side of the case to argue and you do research and write a brief.  So far not so bad.  Then you have to argue your side of the case in front of a panel of judges who question you about your argument while you grip a podium and shake uncontrollably.  That's my style anyway.  Some prefer cool confidence, but I find it not to be nearly as effective as almost passing out. 

You get a course credit to commemorate the work you did in competing, leading most to just do enough to earn their credit without aspiring to win the thing.  I certainly fell into that camp.  Not competitive, not ambitious.  Just give me my credit so I never have to do this again.  Oprah is on and I'm sleepy.

But we advanced to the next round.  As a reward, we got to argue our case again in front of another panel of judges.  I shook less, yet did not find the experience more pleasant.  We advanced again.  Each time we reasoned that at least we could put it on our resumes.  That's good, right?  Makes it kinda worth it?  I still just want to sleep.

At the beginning, there were about 95 teams of two.  When Ash and I got down to 16 teams left, we thought surely this would be the end.  We worked hard each time we had to argue because we did not want to embarrass ourselves.  I at least have pride, if not ambition.  Ash hates to lose so that drove her, but neither of us expected to keep advancing. 

At the end of last semester, we advanced to the top 8.  You know what your reward is for that?  You get to keep going during spring semester and you earn another credit.  Oh, also?  Now you have to re-write your brief arguing for the other side.  They want to see what you're made of.  Oh, and also?  Now you will argue twice in one day - in the morning for Petitioner and in the afternoon for Respondent in front of actual local court judges.  Try to keep which side you're on when straight, please, and also don't pee your pants.  You lose points for that.

We spent the last week of our Christmas vacation re-writing the brief to counter every argument we had made the first time.  Last Saturday, we argued again twice.  Tummies flipping, minds racing, but no shaking anymore.  They let the first year students in to watch.  So they can see that this is how it's done.  No one tell them that I have no idea what I'm doing.  Only four teams would advance, and we had absolutely no expectation that we would be one.  This was enough, further than we had ever planned or expected.  Quarter-finals will look lovely on a resume.

We advanced again.  And won the award for best written brief.  At the next round, we argue in front of federal court judges brought in special for the occasion.  My stomach is already unhappy about it whenever my brain thinks about it.  This is when I wish I had the competitive, ambitious gene.  That maybe once my parents would have indicated that I had something to prove.  But instead they loved me unconditionally and have done me a great disservice.  I just want to pull the covers over my head and make my belly stop churning. Have I mentioned I am terrified every single time I get up there?  Have I mentioned some law school competitive types think this is fun?  Have I mentioned that some law school people are crazy?

Is it too late to bow out gracefully?  You can have the credits back and I will go with my original resume. 

I am very proud of us and it is exciting.  Exciting kind of like being in the middle of a bar fight is exciting.  There's a lot of thrilling action but any minute you might get punched in the stomach and lose your lunch. 

Next argument is in 26 days.  You can come.  Please bring a bucket and a cool compress.


SG said...

Damn Christy, that's impressive! Perhaps a shot of whiskey before you argue? That should help the nerves. I will come to Philly, bottle in hand, to support you in this fabulous endeavor...since whiskey will be available, hopefully we can count on Kel to also be there.

Kelsey said...

I meant to comment a few days ago, sorry! This is amazing!!! But I totally understand wanting to sit in your office, drinking coffee and not lead the charge, haha. I'm like that too! Definitely happier as a worker bee! Good luck :-)

d&d said...

why didn't you just write "im a big deal and i argue well."

d&d said...

also theres an older woman on my floor that has a cat that is annoying me. considering a lawsuit. i'll be in touch.