When the Road Feels Wrong, Change Course

When the Road Feels Wrong, Change Course

When I arrived at The Washington Center, I felt as though I had my roadmap to the future planned out and complete. I would complete this internship, return home for six months to finish up my degree, and then set off for my dream law school in Fall of 2018 to study criminal law.


Now, at the midterm point of the semester, some reflection reveals that what was once a bold black line from point A to point B is now a few dotted lines branching in several directions, and a lot of question marks.



Credit to SiliconAngle.com


Part of The Washington Center is conducting informational interviews and speaking to other professionals in the field, and those conversations have spurred a wave of uncertainty I was never expecting. Many lawyers and non-lawyers alike have told me not to pursue law school, and to take time off before pursuing law school if I do. My internship, as well as other experiences with social justice agencies, have made me question whether or not I want to pursue criminal law. Even my experience in D.C. has made me waver on whether or not I want to return home so soon, when I still feel that there’s so much in D.C. for me to discover.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I like having plans, and fulfilling those plans to completion. I like structure, and I dislike chaos or anything that disrupts that structure. Above all, I hate uncertainty, the state of limbo that I hover in when trying to make up my mind on which path to take. With all that said, you can likely imagine the effect that so much uncertainty has had on my life. I’ve been stressed and discouraged, left paralyzed by my loathing for being unsure of where life is going to lead me next.

I took the last few days to eat some chocolate ice cream in bed, watch some Netflix, and do much more eating out than my budget necessarily appreciated. When I’m in a rut, I’ll generally give myself a day or two to process, and then I force myself to get out of bed and confront whatever’s getting me down.

This column is not the revelation of my decision or my new roadmap, as much as I would like it to be. As of now, I haven’t yet decided whether to apply for law school this fall or to take a year off. I also haven’t decided whether I want to practice criminal law or look at another area of law entirely, and whether I want to stay in D.C. longer or go home.

What I have decided is that I need to make peace with the possibility that my roadmap may not look the same when I leave in December as it did when I started. I need to be open to change, and to the reality that I may not always know exactly what comes next. Right now, my focus needs to be on exploring my options, on evaluating them, and on seeking advice from people who have been in my shoes before. It doesn’t make it any less comfortable to be uncertain about my future, but discomfort is often a sign of growth.

Today, I’m taking a step back and remembering to be grateful for the fact that I do have options, and the freedom to pursue them. Tomorrow, I’ll look at my options and start to weigh each one, to consider the benefits and disadvantages of each one. Eventually, whether that’s tomorrow or two months from now, I’ll have my answers, even if the road to finding them has had some bumps along the way.


Read Colleen's previous blog posts

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