How law school gave me anxiety (sort of).

Worry: a state of anxiety & uncertainty 

Having a propensity for worry in general can be tough.  But pair politically wearisome times with the nerve wracking journey of building something that’s taken (what feels to me like) a painstakingly long time to conceive, has me collecting all sorts of tools to soothe the anxiousness.  Early in the morning is when the worries strike. 

 One tool I’ve found to help me calm my nervous system is listening to interviews between thoughtful people talking about thoughtful things.  When I’m really needing some anti-anxiety I’ll dial in Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday podcast or listen to Krista Tippett On Being, (always the unedited version). The voices tell stories of life discoveries and reveal deeply held beliefs. Pearls of wisdom give my chattering mind something to focus on and often I get lulled back to sleep.  

The other day I was listening to a segment between Oprah and Eckhart Tolle author of The New Earth.  Oprah loves, loves Eckhart and has done a couple chapter by chapter deeper dives with him which are worth digging into, if you’re inclined.  The New Earth was probably the first “spiritual” book I picked up. Prior to, I was admittedly judge-y about that overall genre.  Growing up in an era where the term “New Age” garnered eye rolls, I chose to get curious about other things.

It was in law school where my curiosity plus my aforementioned anxiety led me to explore spiritual-esque sources.

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.”
– Leo F. Buscaglia

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The night before my first law school exam is what did me in.  I busted my ass prepping for the final; obsessing over how the entire semester’s grade depends on this one test. That night I did everything right.  I wrapped up early, ate a solid meal, went for a jog and was in bed by 10:30pm.  For the next 90 minutes I listened to the dog on the other side of the fence bark and bark and bark.  Finally, (and stupidly) out of utter frustration, I got out of bed, banged on the window and, lo and behold, the window shattered. Now I had a barking dog, an open window and a fresh cut. 

I was awake the entire night. 

In the early hours of that morning I couldn’t fathom how I’d pull it together to be able to perform well.  By morning my mindset was bleak. Thankfully, I had a supportive boyfriend at the time who reached out and performed some mental jujitsu on me that helped me reset my mindset.

At the time, I had so many fewer tools than I do today. I’m definitely still learning, collecting practices and sharing.  Something I admire about the students I’ve gotten to know through Citizen Discourse is their candor and vulnerability when it comes to talking about mental health. Rather than put on a mask and front, these kids show strength by being real and honest and vulnerable.  Society will be better if more people follow their lead.  If they can do it, so can I.


Karen GrossComment