Saturday, May 3, 2008

Rejection. Failure. Choices.

Tonight, I'm going to try to tip-toe around some depressing topics without getting all depressy. This is partially because I don't want to go there tonight and partially because I've been thinking about some things that I find interesting.

My focus tonight is a topic, or series of topics, maybe, very near and dear to my heart. Rejection. Failure. Choices.

That's what an awful lot of the world is all about. And I don't understand why.

I mean, think back on the evolution of our species. Choices, certainly, were pretty big for us. Failure, also, meant quite a bit. Both issues were crucial in the long term outcome of mankind.

But rejection. What's that about?

No, even that's the wrong question. There are a million things that rejection can be all about. Most obvious and simple is that we're all looking for the fittest of the fit.

So what am I getting at tonight?

Yesterday I got rejected for approximately the 8000th job. Last night I went to a dinner in which one of the chief justices of the Kansas supreme court and I reminisced about our job interview failures.... Only Madam Chief Justice's story was about how she'd forgotten the name of one of the five high power, high money Washington, D.C. firms she'd interviewed with, and my story had to do with being rejected over the phone for a job that - I think - paid $11 an hour.

Talk about two distinct points of view.

Almost all of my law school friends have jobs now. The ones who don't have summer plans.

Maybe that's it. I've never been here before. (I've also never used as many 'e's in a sentences as that. Two in every word but the first! Wow!)

Um. Back on point. I've never been in this position before. I am the odd man out. I'm, all of a sudden, the kid who gets picked last for kickball, not because I suck at kickball, but because everyone else just happens to be a little bit better than I am.

And it's true in every aspect of the job search. I don't have the grades to go into the big time defense jobs. I don't have the interviewing skills to wow the mid-size firms of the world. I don't have the integrity to send out a million applications the super small time firms of the region. And I don't have the personality or connections to accidentally fall into a job.

I'm the first alternative. The first runner-up. The person they'd hire if they could hire two. And even that is on a good day. On a bad day, I'm the person who gets rejected out of hand.

Thing is, I think we all already know that. Lord knows I've bitched about it enough. Why write tonight? Why keep going on about these things, if the problem has already been so well-defined?

I keep writing, because I keep looking for the way out of this mess. The third issue. Choices. For all that I complain about the problem, I've never really addressed the solutions. And why haven't I addressed them?

I don't know. (Mind you, this isn't the pissed off, defensive type of I don't know. This is the kind of "I don't know," where the tired old man shrugs his shoulders and hangs his head.) Maybe it's a little to do with fear. Some of the choices leave me a poor, financially strapped man with very little hope of ever breaking my head above water. I mean, do I stop? Is that the solution? Do I quit law school altogether? Sure, I have a ton of loans, but a law job won't get rid of them, if I don't GET a law job.

There are other solutions, beyond giving up, but giving up feels so much like a nice enemy that I know. I know where that path will lead me. I don't have any idea my current path is leading. I'm not going to be on the KU Law board of governors. I can comfortably say that, I think. I'm probably not going to be a judge. I will not graduate with honors. I will not have been on Law Review, Law Journal, nor the Moot Court Council. I'll have gotten nearly every position I've ever won because I ran either unopposed or against disinterested competition. I will never have received a CALI award of excellence.

And, with all of that said, my resume still looks nice. The thing it is missing is the thing that would turn me into a good lawyer. The instinct. The will. The WIN.

That's it. That's the thing I'm missing. The win. I am not the best at anything at all. I'm the guy who is decent at things. I'm a middle cog. To borrow from another metaphor, I live in a perpetual state of spinning my wheels.

Thing is, I don't think I can change that. At least, not while in law school. Maybe when I hit the real world and things start to count. Maybe then I'll be able to move out of this malaise.

But perhaps not. Perhaps the options are really very simple. I can either quit/finish law school and stop this whole lawyer thing altogether, or I can finish, become a public defender, do the loan forgiveness thing, and quietly accept that I am who I am.

And, for my most likely option, maybe I'll go another way completely, ending up doing something that is acceptable but not optimal. (i.e. Montana State... eh, not bad. Not the George Washington U., but not bad.) I guess I can cross my fingers for that one.

But wouldn't it be cool if I wasn't stuck with these choices? Wouldn't it be cool if I were the person who was having a hard time, because I had two awesome job offers, and I couldn't pick between them?


Audrie said...

Yea! You're alive!

Anonymous said...

But everyone in the world gets rejected a million times in their life, whether it's socially, romantically, professionally, etc. It just always seems easier for other people. But that doesn't mean that it is. Kay

Mitchell Wolf said...

With every failure, you become more desensitized to the pain. Good luck!