A Letter to my 1L Self

By: Eimile Stokes (JD ’20)
Image result for eimile stokesDear 1L self,

This year will be harder than you think it’s going to be. It’s very different than things you’ve done before. But the good news is, YOU SURVIVE, and you’re a better, smarter, stronger, and more motivated person because of it.

The fact that everyone is telling you how hard law school is may be intimidating. After all, it’s frustrating to do the very best you can all while people are constantly telling you how much harder things will get. However, instead of being discouraged by their kind warnings, be empowered, be confident, and be ready.

That positive outlook will help you overcome challenges, celebrate successes, and see failures simply as areas where you have room to grow. There is so much growing to be had this year, and if you don’t accept that you can grow, you will fall behind as everyone else moves forward.

For me, imposter syndrome hit hard 1L year. I was surrounded by brilliant, motivated people who intimidated me at first. Despite having an awesome support system outside law school, I still  came home after the first week of law school feeling terrified because I couldn’t face being friends with people who seemed so much smarter than I am.

The best decision I made as a 1L was to embrace, rather than fear, my classmates’ competence and intelligence. Once I realized that they were scared and vulnerable, too, we formed a wonderful, close-knit community.  By seeing them for who they really are, I gained so much more than I lost — people I could lean on and true friends in whom I can confide. And as it turns out, I later learned that I had initially intimidated others as much as they had intimidated me. Although they say that your section will be your future network, I’ve learned that it’s more important that they will be your lifelong friends.

When I think back to how scared I was during the first week of law school, I wish I had known three things. In the class before my oral argument, Professor Perdue asked us to write down three things that would help us feel comfortable and confident during oral argument, which is one of the most intimidating tasks of 1L year.  I think I will continue writing these three things down as I go into future, intimidating tasks:

  1. You are prepared.
  2. You are capable.
  3. And you are just as qualified as everyone else.

You’ve got this, 1L self.


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