My perfect mistake and how maybe it wasn’t so bad after all
In this previous post I wrote about my decision to not study law immediately after school but the story goes on. During my battle to get into law school I found myself studying Social Anthropology, Politics, and Diversity Studies. I only studied Diversity if I’m honest because my father bribed me with an all expenses paid gap year of travelling if I completed at least one Post-grad degree. And let’s be honest here, who in their right mind would pass up that offer? Sadly, my father died unexpectedly during that year but that’s not what this story is about.
This story is about how I finally got into law school. And HATED it. I don’t mean I didn’t like it, or found the workload too intense, no I mean absolutely hated it from the bottom of my soul. I knew in the first three months that I was not cut out to be a lawyer. To be a lawyer you’ve got to be a certain kind of person and you’ve got to enjoy certain kinds of things. I was not that person! You have to be able to remember the tiniest details and pull them out a hat when they matter. FACTS are key in law. Yeah, my brain was not made for the meticulous way a lawyer has to live their life. I desperately wanted to get out. Sadly, in my family, you don’t quit. I was told that this was my dream and dreams don’t just change. Besides, it would be good for the family to have a lawyer around. So I pushed on.
For the next year, I spent my days in class, my evenings in the library and my nights reading and writing papers. And I hated it. During that year, I learnt the meaning of depression. I became so miserably depressed that all I could think of doing was eating. I ate so much that I gained 20kgs and at the end of the year when I failed ALL my subjects but one, I fell into the darkest hole possible.
That was the first time I had ever failed anything. I mean, I was raised believing that failure wasn’t even an option. Come home with an A on your report and you’re asked why didn’t you get an A+ so I was an absolute wreck. For the first time I understood why people considered suicide. I was lost. I was confused, and even though I knew I hated the degree, I didn’t know how that had happened to me.
I was completely burnt out and the only thing I could think of was redeeming myself, picking myself off the ground and getting back into the saddle. So I sent off my application for a Master’s Degree in Development Studies. In some twist of fate, my application was sent off to the Social Development Department. I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when I was accepted into a degree that I hadn’t applied for but it didn’t matter. It wasn’t about what I was going to study. I just needed to prove myself.
I was told I had to take the honours programme first, I didn’t put up much fuss and the year went by quickly. The material, I soon discovered was interesting and I did well without too much effort. At the end of the year, naturally I progressed into the Masters programme. I loved Social Development. It was everything I had always longed for and I thrived in the programme. More than happy to forego nights out with friends for long hours sitting at my dining room table drafting papers and policies. I quickly took my place, for the first time in my life, at the top of the programme. I’ve never been more proud of myself. Ironic as it was that it took failing one degree to lead me to this moment.
A degree I had not even applied for was suddenly everything to me. How lucky that life doesn’t always give us what we want but instead exactly what we need. The trick is to accept that life doesn’t always go according to plan and sometimes we have to throw caution to the wind and take a leap of faith into the abyss.