Darcy Lewis Design

Adventures in "Good Enough" Design

Archive for the tag “life”

Law School – A Commiseration Guide

This is not going to turn into a law school blog, there are plenty (and far better!) of those around, but a number of conversations lately have made me realize that people who didn’t go to law school don’t know there are a few key differences that set it apart from any other schooling you’ve done, and in the interests of making you have more sympathy for any suffering law students you know, I thought I would explain:

Law school is a unique beast. There are almost never midterms or other checkpoints, instead your entire grade for the course rides on the final exam. So you have no way of judging how you are doing or what areas you need to focus on before you take the exam. (Which, btw, is hard to study for because in law exams THERE ARE NO RIGHT ANSWERS. You are not learning things to spit back on the test. You are looking for possibilities. The more possibilities you can find, define, explain, argue, the better you will do. That’s very hard to study for. You can’t memorize this.)

This agony is compounded by the fact that the mandatory courses (all of your first year plus 1 or 2 other classes) are graded with a mandatory curve set by the Bar Association. In my school, that means that NO MORE than 30% of the class can have As (A+, A, or A-), no more than 90% can be As and Bs combined, so 10% of the class (or more…) will get Cs… EVEN IF THEY SCORE REALLY WELL ON THE EXAM (so if everyone in the class gets more than a 95, the difference between an A and a C is teeny fraction of a point).

As if this wasn’t enough stress, grades are critically important for certain jobs in a way they aren’t in other industries. Companies and judges looking for summer interns will specify that you must have a 3.7 GPA or be in the top 10% of your class, and since we have to work a certain amount of these jobs before graduation, you must do really well on your first term exams (now!) so you can have your choice of positions when summer interviews begin in FEBRUARY!

Law students, did I leave out any critical points? Non-law people, feel sorry for us yet? We are always receptive to being fed and commiserated with!! (Puppies are good too!)

A Life Lived Backwards

We are now a month in to the new year and facing a dramatically changing world – both at home and abroad.  This seems like a good time for me to explain my belief in living life backwards.

Far too many of us sort of drift through life doing what is expected of us or what we ‘have’ to do, with little design or intention.  Do you work at a job you hate because you need the money?  Does your current life bring you joy, fulfillment, satisfaction?

I believe in living backwards:  Start with my total goal of what my ideal life looks like, then figure out how to get there.
Many people tell me how ‘lucky’ I am to have such a wonderful husband, they ask me wistfully where I found him and if he has a brother…  And it’s true, he is amazing and I am lucky.  But it’s not an accident or mere luck that my husband is so perfect.  I had stopped dating, resigned to being single rather than settling for the wrong guy.  When I met him, I told him on the first date that I was looking to get married (in general, not necessarily to him), and that if he wasn’t open to the possibility of commitment then he should tell me now.  He was very taken aback, but after a little thought he decided he was open to the possibility.  I spent the first week of dates ‘interviewing’ him to see if he met my criteria and if we had compatible life goals, views, and interests.  I even laid out my expectations for how we communicate and fight, how we handle major life issues, and what kind of marriage and relationship I wanted to have.  I got lucky in that he was compatible, wanted the same things, and was willing to compromise with me.  But if he hadn’t, I wouldn’t have kept dating him let alone married him.  Now, this approach seems really cold-blooded to some, but it did ensure that I didn’t waste his time or mine, it ensured that we were on the same page from the very beginning of our relationship, and it did ensure that we have a very solid foundation to our marriage.  The start of a new relationship is the best time to be pragmatic – before you get emotionally invested.

So, are you ready to live your life backwards?

  1. Sit down and think carefully about what your ideal life looks like.  Where do you live? What do you do with your day? What kind of relationships do you have? Be sure to also think about what you enjoy doing and what skills you have that you want to use or skills you want to develop.  The more in detail you go, the more successful the next step will be…
  2. Plot out how to get from here to there:  Do you need further education? How will you make that happen? Do you need to master a certain skill set? Find a class or just start with some books from the library and YouTube! KNOW YOURSELF – make sure your desired goal is what you really want and your plan needs to be realistic for you -if you aren’t academically-inclined, a future that requires a PhD might not be right for you.  I am very impatient and a little lazy, so any life goal or plan that requires very patient work (like being an art restorer) is totally out for me (there is a reason I created the Good Enough philosophy!!)  Be aware that as well as you may know yourself, you may be wrong about things.  Maybe you are generally impatient but for the right thing you have unlimited patience… maybe you could be an art restorer after all! I know lawyers who hate conflict but have been shocked to find they love being a litigator (which is all about direct conflict!) Don’t get so locked in to ‘knowing yourself’ that you don’t try new things.
  3. Finally, make choices that further your goals.  Evaluate opportunities – will this help me towards my goal or take me in a different direction? (Sometimes we find wonderful things in other directions, but not if they are pushing us to stay where we don’t want to be!)  Look for the right opportunities – volunteer for an extra work project that will let you develop skills you need, sign up to teach something you need to practice with, develop an article on your topic and submit it to local publications or the office newsletter.  Find role models – people in your or a similar industry who are doing what you want to do and study how they got there.  Call them and ask for an informational interview and pick their brain about how they got there and what they like and don’t like about their job.
    Be ruthless – you may have to make very difficult choices about work, time, and relationships, and friends and family may feel threatened by your plan – especially if you want something very different than what they have.

Don’t forget to stop periodically, at least once a year, and evaluate where you are, make sure your desired destination hasn’t changed (if it has, redo your plan and continue towards the new goal!), check for trends and changes in your industry that will impact your plans and adjust accordingly.

I made this choice very very early in my life, and have been living pretty close to my ideal life ever since!  Nay-sayers will try to shoot you down with archaic notions of ‘paying your dues’ by doing something you hate before you’ve ‘earned’ the right to enjoy your life.  I believe that life is too short to waste it on something you don’t love.  These goals are not impossible and they aren’t just a luxury for the rich.  This does require discipline and dedication and lots of hard work, but it is possible and achievable!

What are you going to work towards this year?  I have 3 books I’m working on that I need to make serious progress on; I have some art competitions coming up I’m racing to finish pieces for; I’m growing my textile business; I’m starting to study for law school which I will be starting this fall; I have my Fulbright stint abroad coming up, and I have a number of smaller personal and collaborative projects that I’m also trying to juggle.  I’m hoping this year is a very full, successful, productive, joyous, and healthy one for us all!!

Would love to hear from you about your plans and goals for the year!

On Being AWESOME! – Revised

I had a bit of revelation last night that resulted in a vital perspective shift I would like to share for those of you who are in similar situations.

When you see a speck of lint float across your floor, it doesn’t bother you. It’s not threatening. Similarly, when anything happens in your life that is not threatening to you, you don’t react, or you react calmly. The only time you go in to “MUST DESTROY” mode is when there is something that terrifies you or threatens you on a fundamental level.

So for all of us who were in abusive relationships – whether with a toxic parent or partner, stop and think about this: They invested EFFORT into hurting us, into trying to break us, into controling us. They invested time, money, energy, into surpressing us. They didn’t bother doing that to every single person they ran into, they chose US. Why?

Because we are awesome, glorious, uncontrollable, and so far above and beyond their reach, that we scared them sh-less and became a threat to their personal narrative. You cannot surpress awesome forever, and we eventually broke free, but they will never be free of their constant need to supress threats and feed their personal (fake) narrative of power. And everytime someone breaks their control and leaves, it gets worse for them. We will go on to live our awesome lives, but they will be forever haunted by the little nagging voice in their head which gets louder and louder through the years, shouting at them how worthless and pathetic they are. So they look for awesome people to break, and tell those awesome people how worthless and pathetic THEY are, hoping that the awesome person will believe and that will silence the voice in their own head. But you can’t keep awesome down, and we will break free and it will rebound on them in shrieking waves.

Because we are awesome.

NOTES: As I shared this and discussed this, I realized there were a couple points that needed clarifying:

Breaking Free – I AM NOT saying this is a simple or even clear cut process.  Breaking free is always a PROCESS (not an instant act), often a slow one, it is never simple, direct, easy. You have to find and have faith in your awesomeness to cut those clinging tendrils.  This is not a change that happens all at once. But whether you find your awesome and leave, or leave because you can’t take it anymore and then slowly find your awesome as you heal, both processes are normal and valid. In fact, there is almost definitely going to be a lot of ups and downs – days when you’re Captain Awesome and days when you’re so depressed you can barely get out of bed. All of that is normal and ok. Hold on to the awesome and try to remember that you’re awesome, but be forgiving of the process and how slow it can be.

Making excuses for our abusers is one of the things we do to survive. You may reach the breaking point on your own, it may be a threat to your pet or child that does it, but you still has a long road of healing and finding you awesome ahead of you. A road that is sometimes so hard, you wonder if it isn’t easier to go back (studies show women leave their abusers an average of I think 3-4 times before they finally leave). The healing process can be awful and wretched. HOLD ON TO YOUR AWESOME TIGHTER – even if at first it’s just a note you read that you don’t believe. Remind yourself that you were awesome enough to upset someone, and you can never take awesome away. LOOK for your awesome – what do you for yourself and others that’s pretty cool? Sometimes that means, “I helped my friend with her new baby and did the laundry for her!” and sometimes that means “Even though I feel like crap and can barely move, I got myself up and ate food!” These are all wins. You are still alive, you are fighting to survive, you are awesome!!!

But I Don’t Believe In Myself – When you have endured an abusive relationship, you internalize a certain amount of that abuse and you suppress a lot of yourself so you can survive it. Cleaning that crap out and learning to not suppress can actually take YEARS!!! DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED!! You are still awesome, you just need to “detox”.

But My Abuser Was Abused Themselves, So I Feel Bad For Them –  The fact that they were abused is terrible and tragic and you can acknowledge that without it binding you.  THAT DOES NOT NEGATE OR EXCUSE THE EFFECT THEY HAVE ON OTHERS.  They may have been awesome and unable to break totally free, that doesn’t give them the right to try to squish the awesome out of their child/partner in retaliation and the child/partner has to know that it’s ok to break free and be awesome themselves – without shame or guilt or pain for their abuser’s toxicity.  Being hurt NEVER gives you the right to hurt others.  Knowing no other way ALSO DOES NOT GIVE YOU THAT RIGHT.


This part is so important, I will repeat it:

LOOK for your awesome – what do you for yourself and others that’s pretty cool? Sometimes that means, “I helped my friend with her new baby and did the laundry for her!” and sometimes that means “Even though I feel like crap and can barely move, I got myself up and ate food!” THESE ARE ALL WINS!! You are still alive, you are fighting to survive, you are awesome!!!

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