Fail-er, not Failure

I recently received an email from a girl in New York. She failed the bar exam again and was pretty upset about it. Since I hadn't even opened this blog in several years, she sent an email out into space, hoping there was still life behind the screen.

There is! I am still alive.

Failing the bar exam has been on my mind a lot lately, and I'm not 100% sure why. I know there is a fresh group of young people beginning to study as we speak. In July they'll line up like cattle, freshly sharpened pencils and heads swirling with knowledge, and sit down to a terrifying two (or three) days of testing.

Then you wait.

For months.


If you're like I was, then your waiting will be almost mindless. Not really worried, 'cause, I mean, you passed law school, right? How hard could one test be, really?

The last few rounds of bar exams in Florida have had some interesting results. Out-of-state-ers and repeat takers are not doing so hot. And some schools are really not bringing any decent results. That's tough.

The job market, I think, might be getting better? I'm not quite sure. I'm a bit more isolated than in previous years, as I finally broke out of government world for private practice, which I LOVE.

The reason I came back really was to tell a story. I have been looking to leave government work for several years, but where I live has a pretty tight legal community. You really have to know someone to move around, and that is really hard to do. Jobs are never advertised, you just have to put the word out there without your current boss finding out. Basically impossible. Thankfully, a few special friends got me an interview with a firm that I had really hoped I could move to. To finally get my foot in the door was the most amazing feeling, and I felt like I had really made it.

I was told by one employee that I should be prepared to defend my bar exam struggles. This employee was very kind, and knew me as a person, so to this person, it wasn't a big deal. Past issue, current work speaks for itself, etc. Nonetheless, I was ready...I thought.

When I arrived at the interview, I was met by all the partners. I sat at the end of a long wooden table, surrounded by 7 people, several twice my age. One had previously worked for the bar examiners and drafted many of the questions. It was daunting.

The questions began pretty simply: Why do you want to make this move? Why now? What can you bring to the table? Talk about your trial experience? Which judges have you practiced in front of? etc.

The whole time I was thinking, just bring it up already. I know you all know, so lets just talk about it. Finally, someone brought it up: why do you think you struggled to pass? It came out, of course, that I failed completely three times, passed the MBE on the 4th and the Florida portion on the 5th. I honestly think some people were really surprised at that, I don't think they all knew the extent, just that it happened more than once. Maybe its because the Florida bar exam is so flipping' expensive? Like, who has $600 to drop every six months to try again (thanks mom and dad) and who would even keep doing that to themselves over and over again?

I answered them with this: this is all I've ever wanted to do. I went to law school for a reason, and I wasn't going to give up. I failed. Yeah. And it took a long time to pass. But I learned a lot about myself in the process. I learned what actual hard work was. I learned I couldn't skate by. I learned that if some things are important enough, you keep trying. I learned humility. I learned to give myself grace for my mistakes. And I learned to ask for help. But I never stopped trying.

That's all I could say. And I mean, what else could I say? Describe to them the nights of sobbing that would become early morning depressions? The days, months, and years, I spent hunched over a desk reading MBE questions? The period of self-doubt and loathing I felt, feeling like a complete idiot for failing something that everyone else could so clearly pass? Feeling completely alone in the world? The thoughts and emotions I had when I got fired because I couldn't pass? How it felt to put everything in boxes and drive home, knowing the reason why? Feeling embarrassed having to work multiple minimum wage jobs with a doctorate degree?

I've learned there are two sides to this process. And I get sucked into one side, much more easily. But when I begin to think about the dark days, I try to remember the only thing worth remembering: the day I passed. I remember seeing my number and PASS next to it. I remember falling on the floor sobbing, just collapsing. I remember my husband refusing to let me close the browser window, out of fear the information might change. I remember crying out to God, thanking him for my season in the wilderness and my deliverance. Because that's what it was, really. My iron was being sharpened.

For those who have found this blog because you've failed, know that I am with you here. I have walked that road. From the moment I started studying for the first time in May of 2010, to September of 2012, I lived the bar exam. It consumed my thoughts. It stole my joy. It was always in my life, I couldn't escape it. I couldn't go anywhere fun or do anything enjoyable because I felt guilty that I wasn't at home studying. I allowed it to consume me. If that's what is happening to you, I pray you can overcome that somehow. Don't allow it to rule your life. It caused me so much pain over the years, I allowed it to have so much power over me.

For me, my relationship with the Lord took a hit. I would go through periods of questioning and anger, but it would eventually turn to periods of repentance. I look back now and of course I'm incredibly thankful for the experience. I would not be the person I am today if I had not gone through that. Personally, it strengthened my marriage tremendously. I was engaged and living with my husband when we found out I failed the first time and got married shortly thereafter. If you are reading this, know this for yourself. You are being prepared for something greater than yourself, you just don't know why yet.

I think part of my experience was to prepare me for my job search. I searched for years to get out of government work with nothing. No bites. Oh, and that interview? Yeah, nothing came of it. But you know, I knew that as soon as I left. I knew I was never going to get in there. The fact that I had worked for (at that point) almost four years, trying tons of cases, feeling completely comfortable arguing in front of a judge, dealing with all sorts of people, being forced to think on my feet and improvise, write eloquently at a moments notice, etc., meant nothing. They wanted to know why I couldn't pass a standardized test four years ago.

I will tell you this: I remember calling my husband and telling him, I don't really know what's going to happen with that, but I feel good about myself. For the first time, I was able to OWN my past. OWN what happened to me. Talk about it and force myself to wear it as a badge of honor, not a cone of shame. I'm NOT an idiot, I'm NOT unworthy, I'm a normal person who hit a couple speed bumps and kept on truckin'. And that should mean something.

Many months later, a co-worker mentioned to me that she might know of a firm hiring. She thought I might be a good fit. I had a tiny bit of familiarity with them, they were small, but I thought, sure, I'll give it a shot. I called, they said come over and let's talk. Non-court day AC was wearing flats, regular clothes (not a suit), hair in a ponytail, and glasses with minimal make-up. TOTALLY unprepared. But away I went! I got there, talked with the partners for a few hours, they said come back in a couple days. I came back, and they offered me the job on the spot! And you know what was noticeably absent? Talk of the bar exam. Because, for most people out there, they don't really care. Good attorneys want to work with other good attorneys, and that's the extent of it.

I put in my two weeks and gleefully skipped several blocks over to the job of my dreams.

I'm now doing exactly what I've always wanted to do and I LOVE it. Long gone are the box-checking employees of government work.

Again, after my wilderness, I found deliverance. And if it wasn't for the bar exam, I don't know if I would have had any idea how to handle it. Would I have given up? Would I have stopped looking and decided my fate was to be a government drone for the rest of my life? I worked with some of those, they were pretty lifeless and jaded. Nope, I kept up the faith. I kept praying and kept searching and kept talking to people.

I just. kept. going. Don't get me wrong, there were lots of mornings where my husband woke up to sounds of me sobbing in the shower. I was definitely at the end of my rope, but I remember thinking: today might be my day. Just wake up, be present, and try again.

Fellow bar exam fail-ers, hear this. You are fail-ers, NOT failures. The fact that you didn't get through in round 1 (or 2 or 3 or 4) means nothing about you as a person. Like I talk about in past blog posts, you aren't cursed because you didn't pass. Of course, for me, my faith played a big part in the process. I'm not quite sure how you deal with this sort of thing if you don't know the Lord. Obviously, I hope you all would come to know Him through this process so I can meet you in Heaven one day. But for me, if I didn't have my faith, I'm not sure I would have been able to push through.

So, I'm still alive, and a person with internet access. If you come across this page because you have failed the bar exam or are afraid you might, feel free to shoot me an email. I don't mind. I hear from random people all the time, just looking for some encouragement. I've talked to people all over, and sometimes it's just nice to know you aren't alone in the world.


Its that time of the year...

I can always tell when bar results come out...the emails start. I never get happy emails, only sad ones. Most of the time I read them and cry. I remember being in their shoes. The months of preparation, the brain dump, and the weeks of anticipation. And then complete let-down.

For those that have come here for encouragement, you have found it! I completely understand how each of you feels.

So where am I now? Working....and just....working. Realizing that real life is never disclosed to you while in law school. How many professors never really worked in the real world, or, if they did, they have been sworn to secrecy so students won't quit and stop paying tuition. Even so, even if we were warned, I'm sure none of us would have listened. We all thought WE were the exception.

A new girl just started in my office. I overheard her talking to some secretaries and I heard "LSAT." I immediately thought--OH NO. Poor girl! She must be warned! Run for your liiiiiiiiiife! But I kept all that to myself. I remember being there. It wouldn't matter...it never does. And to be fair, I don't hate the practice of law. At the end of the day, it is a noble profession. You are always learning, always trying to figure out how to think of something no one else has. Being in motion hearings/trial/whatever and having to think up something on the fly successfully can make you feel awesome. (Or super dumb, depending on what the surprise issue is.)

What makes our jobs tough are other people. If I could practice law all by myself, I'd be fine. Or, maybe practice with like 5 other lawyers I know. There's one girl in my office, and a couple other attorneys scattered across America. I think we could all get along pretty well. Alas, that's not the case. Somewhere along the line, "adversaries" became synonymous with "enemies." I get along with most male attorneys I sit across the table from, until I do something they don't like and they start trying to tell me "how these things are usually done, sweetie." Most female attorneys opposite my position are extremely hateful. Its frustrating, because I work really hard not to instigate or be difficult to work with. Recently, a few misunderstandings have led to several female adversaries to claim I'm being underhanded and malicious. Despite apologizing and working to be more clear and on top of things, I'm still being treated with contempt. Unfortunately, I've learned my age, gender, and level of experience means I have only two options on how to act: door mat or bit**. If you are nice, you get railroaded and your kindness is taken advantage of. If you stand your ground, you are the dreaded B WORD. I'm doing my best to take the high road.

I've really been struggling with this lately. I didn't intend for this post to go this direction, but its been on my mind a lot lately. I've also planned to pick up Unglued, by LysaTerKeurst. I honestly feel a bit unglued lately and I have literally no (local) attorney friends to talk to that are in the Christian faith. Yes, I can walk around, cursing everybody and everything. Yes, I can scream in my office about the idiots I come in contact with DAILY (and I have--so embarrassing). I need to get a grip no this. Stressful situations are a part of an attorneys life...nothing I'm experiencing is new to any lawyer. I just need to learn how to manage it all. And personally, I don't believe that managing it can be found at a bar, which is were a lot of stressed out professionals go. I believe I can solve it another way.

IN OTHER NEWS, I am going on almost 3 months of weight watchers, and I've lost 15 lbs! It's an AMAZING feeling, and I am LOVING how I feel! Man, going up the stairs is so much easier. Running is so much easier! Trying on clothes is so much easier! The other day I bought a size pants for work I have never worn. Maybe in like 5th grade or something, but its been many MANY years. I'm feeling so great, I don't EVER want to be back where I was!!

I'm also still rocking along in my wedding coordinating business. I had a wedding last weekend and I have one next month. I love it! Its SO much fun and I absolutely love helping brides have the perfect wedding day!

Ok. Well...I think that's enough for now. I'll try to make my posts a little more regular!

And, as always, if there are any bar un-passers out there, feel free to email me! (No such thing as a failer around here!)


Forever ago

Does anyone even read this anymore? Sometimes I'll pull my blog page up and see my old posts and have awesome intentions to update, but never do.

I feel compelled to do so now, especially since bar results are currently coming out for the Feb 13 exam.

I see the hits on my page are up...and unfortunately, I usually know what that means.

For those of you that are here because you failed: don't lose hope! Don't lose heart! Stay strong, no matter what number exam this may be for you. I didn't pass the MBE until my 4th try and passed the FL portion on my 5th try. You CAN pass this test! I pray it doesn't take you as long as it took me, but never give up. Always keep trying.

For those that keep up with me from time to time: I am working. Always working. Currently, I'm spending my weekend cleaning and prepping for my jury trial week next week. I potentially have 3 that may go, but I'm only anticipating having to take 1. I'd rather not divulge too much more information if at all possible.

Being a real-life, practicing attorney is stressful. Its stress that I'd gladly take any day over bar stress, but its definitely stressful all on its own. I've made friends with a few of my co-workers and my supervisor is hilarious and ridiculous. When I started, I had a division partner that was very knowledgeable and super nice. It made the transition much easier.

Sometimes I forget where I came from, what it took for me to get here. I get really stressed out and anxious pretty easily and I'm trying to control that better. I know that I have much more stability now than I did with no job, and I try to remember that God has blessed me with this job, at this time, for a specific purpose. I'm trying to remember to keep an eye open for what my purpose is at this time.

Recently I had some physical issues to deal with, and that caused a scare. It dealt with my heart which made it even more stressful! I had to remember I was a strong person. I've gone through a bunch of junk and I needed to suck it up, undergo whatever procedures were necessary and be prepared for whatever lesson I was being taught through it. Thankfully the second procedure I went through showed us that the problem was much more minor than was anticipated, and I'm free to resume life as normal. It was a scary couple of months, but we're praising God all the day long!

My husband and I are also building a house right now, which is so completely dramatic all on its own, and WOAH there is like a million things to do with it. Thankfully, my Mom works in secondary marketing at a local bank and was able to hold our hands through all of this and help us understand all the junk we were having to sign and pay for. There is so much small print and let this be a warning: loan officers don't really pay attention to what you are signing...you better read that stuff carefully. We found a lot of mistakes that could have caused us trouble down the road. With a mortgage, you really have to look out for #1, which is terrifying because you have to sign like a million things that don't make any sense.

So there's the update. Work, heart stuff, house. 6 months in to my job and I still haven't figured out how to balance cleaning and doing stuff during the week or exercising.

Those out there that need to vent, complain, commiserate, hit me up! I've been there, done that. 5 times :)



I don't usually update THIS many times in a row, but I just have to share my new found love:

Jo's Candies, Dark Chocolate Salted Caramels.

People. This stuff is AMAZING. I cannot emphasize it enough. So far I've only been able to find it in packs of two (THE HORROR) at the World Market. And its a little pricey, so definitely a rare treat. I told BC today I never really indulged in anything delicious after results came out, so this was going to be part of it...I've had 4 so far today :)

I passed.

I have sat down so many times and thought--I need to update people. But things have been in the way.


I passed the bar exam!

There have been a lot of crazy days in the past few weeks. Results came out two weeks ago, on a Tuesday. This whole time, I didn't know what day they came out. After I went to Tampa I felt so bad about how the test went, I knew there was absolutely no way I passed.

In the meantime, I was working two part-time jobs. One I had worked off and on for the past 6 years (the owners are friends of mine) but the other job I basically hated. I learned a TON about myself and about how you should treat other people during this time though, so I know the Lord was teaching me a lot. A big lesson was that none of us is good, worthy, better, etc. We're all people and deserve to be treated with respect. Even the people who treat you like a complete idiot because you are behind a counter serving them. Even the people who have complete raging meltdowns at you because their coupon is out of date by two months. You know...those people.

Back to timelines. The Sunday night before results came out, I was laying in bed and these waves of anxiety were just running through my body. I felt like it was time to see when results came out. I checked the website and it said the next Tuesday. I was like...wow. Ok. Two days. The next day I went to work and tons of people from church came through my line. TONS. It was weird. I told my husband that I was worried what sort of omen that was!

Tuesday morning I woke up, made coffee, did some yoga in the living room and just hung out with my husband. Nothing major. A girl I knew who took the exam texted me and asked if I passed. Ummmm really? WHO DOES THAT? Especially when its someone you KNOW has failed several times!!! Listen, PSA here: Don't do that. Don't text someone and ask if they passed. Let them come to you. Just do that please.

Anyway, so I checked. I found my number and it said "PASS." I died. I screamed. I cried. I scream-sobbed. I collapsed on the floor. I ran around the house tearing up boxes looking for my number, just to check. Once it was finally confirmed many times over, my husband and I sat down, my a blubbery mess, and prayed. It was the only thing I could think to do. Pray and thank my Heavenly Father for His goodness. For not leaving me. For seeing me through. For teaching me things. For believing in me enough that I could handle all this. And knowing exactly how much I could handle before I completely lost my mind.

I'm here to tell you it can happen to you. You can fail. You can pass. It doesn't matter who you are, good and bad things happen to both good and bad people. But its all about how you handle it. Being a Christian doesn't mean its sunshine and butterflies 24/7. It means you rely on the Lord no matter what. That doesn't mean you don't cry out in anger in sadness. Or that you don't question and wonder out loud what is going on in your life. It means staying faithful through it all. Because there isn't any other choice.

If someone is going through this, bar exam or not, whatever, and you need to talk, please email me! I have heard from SO MANY people feeling completely alone because they have failed. Trust me, I KNOW how you feel. I know everything you are feeling. I've felt that way four times. People have criticized me a million times over for what I've done, how I've reacted, how I've studied, how I've remained faithful, how I've shared my heart, etc. But I don't share for the critics, I share for that person who is desperate to know they aren't alone.

I'm SO GRATEFUL for all the people I've met through this blogging process. In fact, I had a friend from Nevada (now Washington) send me flowers to congratulate me when I got my results! Besides the wonderful family and friends I have around me, I now have a worldwide circle of friends who have supported and prayed for me. I feel so loved and blessed :)


I've been without social media for like a week.

I feel like I live in the African Congo.

I broke today and logged into Facebook and Twitter. BECAUSE I JUST CAN'T STAND IT ANYMORE.

I'm trying to stay super patient and be willing to accept whatever happens next week. NEXT WEEK. I WANNA DIE.

I've basically given myself two weeks to know everything in the universe. That's horrible to admit and if you're thinking "she's gonna fail again" well...I can't say I blame you. Cause I've thought it a lot too.

Anyway, I needed to be in touch with the world. I needed to feel like people haven't forgotten about me.

I don't know if I can actually express in words how ready I am to move on with my life. Anddddd I guess I just did.