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Author Topic: The Return, Once Again, of AKA23  (Read 1801 times)
AKA23
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« on: September 13, 2011, 01:41:11 PM »

Hello everyone!! It's nice to be back! For those of you fellow old timers out there who know who I am, here's an update. For those of you who don't know me, this might not be all that interesting for you. Unless, of course, you're looking for a "human interest sidebar." True Crime, anyone? LOL 

The last three years of my life have been something approximating hell, so it's no wonder why I haven't been an active member here on the board for awhile. Here's the good news: I've recently graduated from law school. The bad news is that I pretty much hated every second of it. It was a long, rough road for me, and I'm so happy now that it's over.

Law school is an extremely isolating experience. Academically, I was bored to tears by much of what I was studying, and socially, I found it very difficult to connect. People are so stressed and busy that one of the only social outlets they have is to go out, party, get drunk, and do crazy things, and then post pictures of their exploits on facebook. I don't drink, so I didn't go to any of these parties, and consequently, really didn't have any real friends. Beyond that, socialization is really not anybody's priority. People are focused on studying and getting through what they need to do to survive. It was not unusual for people to study for 6 hours a day, pouring over cases, highlighting books and making outlines. I hated what I was studying, so I didn't do any of these things and miraculously still managed to get through it. I always went to class and took notes, but I almost never read the material. I would study for the exams, but that's about it. As a result, I didn't do brilliantly in law school, but I got through it, which given what I was going through and how I felt about the experience, was an amazing accomplishment in and of itself. When I graduated college, I did so in 3 years with a 3.9 GPA and got an award for outstanding scholarship for having the top GPA in my major, but that was because I was studying psychology and was very interested in what I was learning. In law school, all I could manage was to scrape by with around a 3.0. It was nothing to write home about, but I still have those two letters J and D after my name just like all those other law students who spent their life in the library.

Partially because I hated what I was studying and felt socially isolated, and partially due to pre-existing issues I had before law school, I entered into a very severe depression when I entered law school, which only got worse as time went on. My depression was so severe that on my 6'2 frame I dropped down to 122 pounds. It was truly scary stuff. Shortly before I was set to take my final exams for my last year, I more or less collapsed. I knew I would be completely unable to pass my exams in the condition I was in, so I petitioned to postpone my exams. As a consequence, I didn't graduate in May like the rest of my colleagues, but I knew that in the condition I was in I would not have been able to pass my exams. Shortly after my leave of absence, on the recommendation of psychiatrists who feared for my welfare, I entered a hospital. I was there for 39 days. After I got out of the hospital, again on the recommendation of my psychiatrist, I did electroshock therapy (yes, they still do that for depression, and no, it's not as scary as it sounds). At the same time, I entered into a 6 week cognitive behavioral outpatient program for my depression, which I have recently completed. When I attempted to study for my exams, however, I found myself completely unable to remember what I had studied. I decided to stop the shock therapy while I studied for my exams and have not resumed it.

A few weeks ago I took and passed my final exams, so I am now officially a law school graduate. Not only that, but on my last exam of my law school career, I actually got an A, so I was quite proud of myself for that.

Physically, I'm also doing much better. I've managed to reverse my eating issues and within a few months I gained 50 pounds. I have made sure to eat consistently regardless of how I feel and am now 180 pounds. This is the most I've ever weighed in my life! I'm still struggling with the depression, but I'm much better off than I was before, and I hope and pray that the progress continues.

I'm still not sure what to do with the law degree. I haven't taken the bar exam, and really don't feel any great drive to practice law. I would like to use my skills and talents to help others, but I'm not sure in what capacity. I have both a psychology and law degree and would like to use them both. As I've been so privileged in my life, I feel a moral calling to help those who didn't always have my opportunities and need help to live a better life. There are so many people who need help in this society. So many in poverty, so many who have no healthcare, so many unemployed or in poverty, who have little to no access to a quality, affordable education. So many who are abused and neglected by a society which have left them behind. I know I am only one man and can only do so much, but I'd like to add my sweat and tears to the multitude of people who wants to do something about that. If any of you have any suggestions of things to explore, I'd love to hear them.

I love politics and policy, and would probably really enjoy being a politician and helping to move policies forward that addressed our growing social ills, but I fear I'm far too honest to be a politician, and am not sure anybody would really want to vote for me!

Well, that's about it my friends. I hope that you have enjoyed reading this update, and I look forward to reading all the comments! :)
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KC
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« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2011, 06:35:20 PM »

AKA, that is quite a story! It sounds like you were really dangerously ill there for a while. I'm so glad to hear you're doing better.

And congratulations on the law degree. No matter how you feel about it, it's quite an accomplishment. Do you remember how we always said you were heading for a career as a judge? Well, there's a start!

As to what you could do right now, if you can afford to forego a high-salary job, there are plenty of non-profit organizations that are working for the goal you mention ... "to help those who didn't always have my opportunities and need help to live a better life." A friend of mine recently lost a beloved great-aunt, and in lieu of flowers, her family suggested contributing to a body I hadn't heard of: the Southern Poverty Law Center. This is their mission statement:

Quote
The Southern Poverty Law Center is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education and other forms of advocacy, we work toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality.

I see from their Careers page that they have some fellowships and internships available: http://www.splcenter.org/careers

NB: I don't know anything about this organization other than it's something my friend's great-aunt supported, so please don't take this as a direct endorsement of them or their policies. It's just a suggestion for something you might look into.

Good luck!

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Christopher
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« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2011, 08:15:28 PM »

Glad you're feeling much better, AKA! That sounds quite harrowing. Glad to hear you want to use the law degree, or else I'd have to wonder why you'd study something you had no interest in. It really does make it so much nicer when you're interested in your studies.
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« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2011, 11:28:34 PM »

Welcome back AKA !  :)
What a terrible story of your life ! I do hope you will be totally ok now, and good luck for your future job, your future life ... you can be proud of you !  :)
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« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2011, 06:39:43 AM »

A sight of AKA!

You have really gone through a tough time, Aka. I can relate to some of that especially the depresssion part.

My father was a lawyer too but I didn't follow his steps. My sincere congratulations to you on this very demanding and admirable career.

I hope you don't mind that I'm posting a picture of me and my cousin Luana who also graduated in law last week.












I wish you all the luck in you career, I wish your health keeps getting better and better and hope you can post more often :)
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AKA23
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« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2011, 06:18:57 AM »

Thanks so much for the comments guys. I know that this is probably a little too deep for a web board post, but I've been on here for so long, and I thought those who know me on here would be interested to hear about my journey. I'm not one for superficial conversation, as you can probably glean for my posts. I've always been far more interested in deep and thought-provoking topics. I've always been that way, even as a child. Maybe that's why I'm not so good at hitting up the bars and clubs.

Since you asked, when I graduated college, I wanted to continue to pursue graduate studies in psychology. When I talked to my family, they said I could do what I wanted, but were very dismissive of that path. I didn't want to pursue something my family didn't support, especially when everyone was telling me how law school was such a better idea. I considered pursuing a degree in public policy but was told that law is a broader based degree and that there really wasn't much you could do with a public policy degree that you couldn't do with a law degree. I was even told by one member of my family that in order to be successful as a therapist, I'd need to be the best, and I wouldn't be the best, so I shouldn't bother trying. Another member of my family told me when I wanted to pursue psychology that my choice of career shouldn't be my decision, and that I should let those who know and love me, who allegedly knew best, make the decision for me! I am not joking.

Despite these protestations, I got certified as a suicide and crisis volunteer and worked in a transition house for awhile. While there, I continued to be attracted to psychology, but grew frustrated with how poorly things were run and how the resources really weren't there to help people in need. This led me to reconsider law school. I knew I didn't have the power or influence to make the changes I thought were necessary to make things run more efficiently. As I studied for and took the LSAT, I again reconsidered the law path. I told my Dad that I really didn't feel it was for me before I applied but I got push back from my family. He told me if I didn't apply to law school that he'd kick me out of the house, so I applied to law school. Looking back on it, I should have pushed back, but I wasn't strong enough to stand up to my family and assert my own needs and desires. He probably wouldn't have kicked me out of the house if I presented a coherent plan for the next steps. I don't think my father had a vested interest in me becoming a lawyer. I think he just didn't want me to stagnate and saw getting a law degree as a positive step forward.

 Once I got in, I really didn't want to go but I figured that it might open up opportunities for me in social justice, politics, and helping those in need. In the middle of my first year in law school, I again talked to my Dad and told him I was miserable in law school and that I really didn't think it was for me. He encouraged me to continue, saying that an education is always a valuable thing to have. He's right, of course, but at the same time, I'm not sure the emotional toll it took was worth it. I hope that time and experience will prove me wrong.

I could always go back to school and do psychology, which is what I really do enjoy, but it strangely doesn't feel like enough. There are so many people who need help that it feels inadequate to me to help one person at a time. I feel called to help on a larger scale, which I don't think psychology really offers. Helping people individually, while valuable and worthwhile, doesn't really address our growing social ills, which for reasons that are inexplicable to me, I feel compelled to address.

The good part about this whole story is that because I come from a privileged family, unlike my colleagues, I have no debt. I feel so incredibly fortunate to be in the position I am. At the same time, if I had to incur loans and pay for law school myself, there is no way I would have gone. I wasn't anywhere near passionate enough about law school to incur huge amounts of debt for the privilege of attending.

Thanks so much for the suggestion, KC. Given all of my recent emotional difficulties, I think it would be best for me to remain in San Diego. My family is here, and I have a few friends who I care a lot about who can help give me support. If you or anyone else know of any opportunities in San Diego, I'd love to hear about them and follow up.   
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The Schofield Kid
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« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2011, 06:36:41 PM »

Welcome back, AKA23. Sounds like it was one hell of a ride for the past three years. I don't think of too many people who would put themselves through that sort of physical  and mental strain you did but you got through it, so well done.
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« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2011, 11:38:10 AM »

Welcome back mate..  :)

I studied law but it wasn't for me.. picked up my drum sticks and never looked back.. You'll find your own road...
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AKA23
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« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2011, 05:52:36 AM »

Gant, you studied law? Did you graduate, or once you figured out it wasn't for you, did you go a different direction and become a musician? How did you come to these realizations?
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Gant
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« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2011, 12:39:37 PM »

No, I never graduated.. stuff just comes along and takes you with it.. I was approaching my exams, got an offer
 of three weeks in Belgium with a band, took it...and 30 years later heres where it's lead me.. I did actually quite enjoy studying law but was never gonna make a career out of it. I'd always wanted to play drums since I was very young and my dream was just to play, nuthin' about stardom, fame and riches. Working with a band  was my one real ambition, so when the opportunity arose.. I grabbed it. I've been lucky, but I've made choices..usually the right ones.. I think you gotta go with gut instinct and if something doesn't work, drop it and move on to the next thing.
I had a few health issues recently and it made me realise how important it is to go your own way.. A lifetimes a long time to be stuck doing something you don't enjoy.

I like the (sometimes) great John Lennon quote.. " Life is what happens to you while your making plans for the future"

 
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« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2011, 03:59:28 AM »

Hi AKA23,  Welcome back and congratulations on your TWO degrees.   You have had a Hell of a time but here's hoping you can begin to put it behind you. Start to find a niche to fit into with the ideas you will surely have as time goes by.    It was good and sad to read what has happened to you since you last posted on the board.  Life has really thrown some bad times at you but you kept going and that is the most important thing.  Just take a little while to take stock and perhaps have a look at KC's suggestion and see if there is an opening for you.

Once again welcome back it is good to see you posting again.  :)
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