Madrox: Hi, Singlestalk. My father is diabetic, is in and out of the hospital and at risk with Covid-19. My mother is a fish vendor. I’ve got three siblings and we’re all working students. I’m in my fifth year in law school, barely passing the cut-off, while working for a fast-food chain as shift manager. This pandemic has been so hard. The hustle just never ends: Complex learning platforms, choppy signals, long laborious hours of daily cramming, exacting demands at work, frequent hospital confinements and piling debts. Something’s got to give and it’s likely to be school. I obviously can’t quit work. We’re not rich.
DJ: There was once a story of an old Cherokee Indian chief teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he told the young boy. “A fight between two wolves. The dark one is anger, envy, self-pity, resentment, inferiority. The light one is peace, love, hope, serenity, faith.” The grandson pondered for a moment and then asked, “Grandfather, which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee smiled and simply said, “The one you feed.”
Madrox, bai, which wolf have you been feeding lately? How you’re making ends meet in spite of the odds is inspiring. Yes, it’s hard to stay optimistic while facing setback after setback, problem after problem. What you’re feeling is real. Now what? We’re not going back to the time when an apple was just a fruit. Decide, rather, to think forward. Yes, there are things happening in the world that are outside your control. But you can guard the area that you have the most control: Your mind. The cases are rising, the boss’ mouth operates faster than his or her brain for example, or the professor is savage. But you have the power to decide what you think about them. Don’t surrender that control to anything or to anyone. For you to win the fight outside, you must win that battle inside your head.
Think about why you started law school. It can get you up in the morning and gear you for life one day at a time, one subject at a time, one semester at a time. Big goals don’t happen overnight and there will always be stuff you don’t need to understand. Like, do penguins have knees? For sure, there were breakthroughs that got you to where you are today. You’re having a hard time but hey, you’re already in your fifth year! Your tenacity is not that of a squirrel crossing the street. Definitely. You fought and won battles. Celebrate your wins, both big and small. They’ll give you that feeling of pride and joy, making you want to go further toward the next achievement. You wouldn’t have come this far too, if you’re only meant to go this far.
Finally, be more conscious also of what your environment is feeding you. You’re already eating insults for dinner. I know of law students who pray for patience because they’re not sure what they’ll do if they’re blessed with strength. But that’s a given in law school. The rigors in class surface the expertise that decides the fate of a person and that of his or her loved ones. So don’t take in more negativity. Just as you don’t want to catch the coronavirus by getting around carriers, avoid naysayers who will always find ways to switch off the light at the end of the tunnel.
Filter, block, delete, unsubscribe from comments the way you wear your mask, face shield—distance yourself. It’s been said that we become the average of people we surround ourselves with. Decide to be with people who support your dream, who encourage you to keep on.
A huge shout out to you, Madrox, for getting up every day and reaching this far. Focus on the promise, not the problem. Thomas Edison once said that many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. Don’t be like the person who dug 200 meters and then gave up and the person who came after him dug only a meter and found the treasure. Your situation is difficult. But difficulty is not tantamount to impossibility. You got this. And as long as you are breathing, there is a hope and endless possibility for a smart, hardworking and relentless person such as you. Never give up.