Preparing for the Bar exam is unbelievably lonely. I’m not sure what I expected this to feel like, but whatever those preconceived notions may have been were shattered after a few weeks into seriously prepping for this exam. Admittedly, I put off studying for a while. My brain just felt like it couldn’t deal after graduation.
This summer has been the most mentally fatiguing experience of my life and I’ve found myself trying to explain this emotion, or series of feelings, multiple times to many different people. So, here’s the ugly truth about bar prep – it sucks and feels like a hazing ritual. When no one in your immediate family has gone through this experience, it can feel like you’re an island and there’s not even a dinghy to help you escape. But you’ve got to get through it, and you will. Build the damn boat, friend.
The funny thing is, studying isn’t the difficult part. It’s getting myself into study mode. Every day. For hours. Several hours. Like nine hours a day and then time spent for review, and the gym (where I’ve been listening to audio outlines from Crushendo), feeding myself, and getting the dogs to the park for some play time. Aside from the gym, I tend to do a majority of these events alone. Despite what others might think, I am not lounging around at home, eating bonbons, and watching movies. I’m studying, working, working out, stress-baking, or sleeping. Glamorous, huh?
I did make sure to maintain my weekly brunches with family because there’s no way this girl was giving up waffles and coffee on a Sunday morning. Also, I stress-bake. And frankly, I don’t give a damn if you think it sounds stupid. It’s how I cope and take needed mental breaks. Stay in your lane, peeps.
I’ve given it plenty of thought and honestly feel like I’ve put in the time this exam requires. There’s still about 100 hours of review left, which sounds ridiculous, but there’s plenty of time left to go over the law I need. Thinking about that time means more minutes alone spent working on essays, P&E practice questions, and MBE questions. It’s a lonely business, y’all. If your brain and personality don’t handle being alone well, then I strongly suggest figuring out a way to study and meet your social needs. [Everything in moderation, folks…including time with your friends and family. Little spurts seem to work best for me.]
In addition to the loneliness, studying for the Bar is also a suffocating experience. I used the Barbri program and, once I get results, I’ll be sure to let you know how things turned out. What I know right now is that I feel so overwhelmed with the breadth of law this program includes. From what I ascertained, it’s more than necessary, compared to other programs. Which is probably why I feel like I’m drowning all the time. Some of the condensed outlines are 70 pages. Let that sink in. SEVENTY. PAGES.
So now, you’re secluded. You’re losing yourself in a pile of books that basically require glue to keep your eyes open, under an amount of law you’re pretty sure there’s no way a single person can know all of, wishing for the chance to just use the degree you already earned. Not allowed.
Plus, there’s the relationships that will – without a doubt – suffer for your failure to be present in the lives of others. Oh, and if that’s not enough stress, there’s the added concern of the countless other things going on in the dark depths of your mind. Everyone has worries. You don’t want to disappoint your family, friends, or yourself. There’s so much riding on this exam and everything in your life at this very moment feels like it’s being held together by balsa wood and papier-mâché. Trust me — you are not alone in this. It may feel that way, but we’re going through it together. You can reach out and vent and talk through your concerns. Every attorney before you has been in exactly this same position.
Every lawyer I’ve spoken to about this process said a variation of the same thing – “this is the worst of it. Get yourself past this roadblock and you’ll be fine.” But no one told me how they did it. Not a single person. Because the only real answer to “how can I get through this?” is simple: everyone does it differently. And no single experience will align with another. Everyone learns differently, studies differently, and works differently. There is no formula for getting through it with flying colors. You just do what you can, give prepping everything you’ve got, and then walk into the exam days with confidence to spare.
There’s 2 weeks left until game day. Keep it up. You’ve got this. Keep going. Little by little, you’ll get yourself there. Plus, in 17 days – you can go back to reading things for fun!