A few months ago, I finished law school. I can’t lie. This was met with jubilation and excitement from all around. Let me put it into context. I’ve been in school all my life! I had started university one week after my 18th birthday, and I had completed my first degree in literature and history just a few months shy of 21.
Young, eager and completely oblivious to how much work I was about to face, I delved straight into my next educational endeavour, and started my study in law. I’ve wanted to be a lawyer for as long as I could remember. That was my goal, that was my dream, and I went for it. So you can imagine when, in May of 2011, after I dotted my last “I” and crossed my last “T” in what was to be my last exam after EIGHT years of university, I was elated. Maybe too elated because I forgot that after school comes… work. Not that I mind work. I had just never had any substantial job in my life.
You see, because I had spent so much time in school, I spent zilch to nil time in an actual job. Prior to being gainfully employed, I had always thought I wanted a job straight out of school. In retrospect, what I really wanted was money, or at least the ability to afford the comforts of life. I often looked at my sister shopping, pampering herself, and enjoying the working life, and although it’s what I’ve ultimately studied for, and it’s the reason I sent out résumés feverishly before exams had even finished… I was clearly not prepared for the working world.
First things first. Growing up as a last child I became spoilt. Yes I admit it. I am (or was) spoilt, not rotten but definitely overripe. My parents and sisters supported me through what they must have thought were my endless studies. So imagine how I felt when the first reality check slapped me across the face.
Now a young attorney, there would be no more help from Mommy and Daddy. My parents were possibly happier (and rightfully so bless their hearts) than I was to see me finish school because at 26 I was still largely a dependent. I was dependent on them for money, for a roof over my head, for clothes, for a car, and for all life’s needs. Now a young, first-year attorney (or as I call it, a pleb in the legal world), I have to spend my own money, pay my own cell phone bill, buy my own clothes, shoes and other accoutrement… and there are a lot of other accoutrements.
I couldn’t burden them forever, so I don’t mind taking up my responsibility and even helping them out now. I guess what I wasn’t prepared for the hard reality that no matter how much money you make, when you leave school, IT IS EXPENSIVE TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Lesson learnt! Much thanks to those two people who birthed me because Lord have mercy, I’m one expensive gal!
If that wasn’t enough, I was rudely awakened by my next wakeup call… the saga of getting to work… and back home. I work in Port of Spain, ’nuff said! While at school, I had the luxury of the unlimited use of my father’s car. I now travel. Did I mention I hate to travel? Well I hate to travel. I travel to City Gate, then I make the long… sorry… very long trek to work. Every morning when I get to work I realize that I don’t look half as ‘put together’ as I thought I did, when I left home, and I’ve quickly realize that the glamour girl I once thought I was could not be sustained by walking through the streets of Port of Spain.
Let’s not even talk about what I look like on an afternoon after being literally shoved and lifted into a maxi by a herd of stampeding animals masquerading as humans who don’t see me because of my 4’11” stature. Bah humbug! Surely being an attorney is more glamorous than this…. right? Wrong! Needless to say I’ll soon have a car of my own… Lord you hearing me?
Now to the actual job. I am blessed to have found employment straight out of school. But I’ve come to the realization from my first day of work that I am a true Trini. I do things at the last minute, and although I do them well, I have certainly found myself in many Tim Gunn “make it work” moments like Anya. I am a procrastinator! I own it! I survived school like this, and I sincerely thought I would survive in a work environment in like manner. Wrong again!
In this legal world of mine, I live with deadlines, deadlines, deadlines… and more deadlines! And bosses that respect deadlines. Don’t get me wrong I am a hard worker. I just wait ‘til the very last minute to work hard.
It took me a while, but it hit me that I can no longer exist with this mindset. I find myself working feverishly to meet these “doom days”, so that my working life doesn’t encroach on the other areas of my life. It’s been an adjustment.
For the first time in my entire life the month of September has come and gone and I have not gone back to school. At the ripe old age of 26, I’ve finally grown up. I was always mature, but I’ve now grown up. I am an adult with adult responsibilities, and adult problems and I struggle to find a balance between my work life and social life.
I’ve ultimately realized that life evolves and part of that evolution is work. I realize that I should have relished the student life a lot more than I did, because, although I may study again, I’ll never be just a student again. I now know the value or things, and I have a newfound respect for those around me who have been in this working world for years.
Let me make it clear. I’m not complaining. Far from it. I understand that many women my age have husbands, children, and many other responsibilities, so complain I shall not. Things could definitely be a lot more stressful. I’m just learning that having a job is fair to fine… It’s the unexpected and inevitable scattered showers of reality that I’m learning to deal with. So as I navigate these new waters, I hope and pray for the strength to make the transition from school to work as painlessly as possible.
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