Casting aside fear

One of my friends asked me what law school is like. I told him “There’s a lot of fear here.”

Some of that fear is a natural part of legal training. Lawyers are trained to be risk-averse. We are trained to look at a situation, see all the ways it can fall apart, and prepare for disaster.

Law school also attracts risk-averse people. There are many people who didn’t know what to do in life and decided to go to law school. I fit in that category.

There is wisdom in carefully assessing risk and preparing for bad outcomes. But I feel fear creeping in. Not as abject terror, but as the subtle chill of anxiety. Will I get the right grades? Will I get the right job? Will I pick the right firm? I see it in how my classmates are afraid of sounding stupid in a cold call or don’t want to speak up in class.

During finals week, most of my conversations with my classmates started like this:

Me: “Hey, how’s it going?”

Classmate: “Good. How many finals do you have?”

Now, I understand that people have finals as a front-of-mind concern. But this interaction still bothered me. I would steer the conversation to other topics: “What are you most excited about for this summer?” or “What do you hope to learn?”

Fear is a powerful motivator, but a tyrannical king. It can spark us to action, but burn us in its grasp.

For me, this fear centered on one pivotal question: “Will I be successful?” But this question was rooted in something even more foundational: “Will I be accepted?” Will I be successful enough, polished enough, good enough to be accepted? Will I be loved?

But then I remember that it is written that perfect love drives out fear. I believe that I am already perfectly loved by one who is perfect in love. As it is also written, “nothing can separate us from the love of God.”

I am not bound by fear of failure. What can failure do to me? It cannot take away the perfect love that I already have.

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