Dear Arik (from four years ago),
Congratulations for passing the Ateneo Law entrance examination! You actually made it through. I can still remember that moment when I read the very same announcement and saw my name on the very top of the list. Well that is the problem with our surname: there will be no room for suspense. You already knew whether you are in or not. You can just imagine how it would be when the results of the Bar Examinations come out. But I digress.
So, law school. Will it be difficult? Yes, very. But is it impossible? No. A lot can and will happen in four years. You will make some of the best decisions and commit the worst of mistakes yet. At the risk of being too candid, I must say that I actually envy you. You are just about to embark on another great chapter of your life, the exact same one that I am about to end. Here are some of the tidbits I picked up along the way that may help you in making the next four years a little less unbearable.
Conquer law school one day at a time. Try not be overwhelmed by the number of cases and pages assigned. You might think that reading for two, four, six or more hours can be such a chore, especially if you do not understand the Latin maxims and legal jargons being thrown at you. Believe in yourself, and trust that you will eventually find your groove. Learn to make a habit out of it. There is a reason why they call it the “daily grind.”
Sleep. It is only halfway through law school that I learned how much of a commodity it is. You will fall prey to that “I-need-to-pull-another-all-nighter” trap just to cram everything in every now and then, but that almost always never works (unless you are a machine, and I highly doubt that). I am all for knowing when to pick up the pace, but it should not be at the expense of one turning into a zombie. I should have learned that sleep deprivation is counterproductive early on, and so I hope you will not commit the same mistake that I did. I would like to think that good grades come to those who do not cram the night before an exam but to those who kept at it weeks and days ahead.
Go out with friends. See a movie (or two). Take a weekend off. Just because you are in law school does not mean you are no longer entitled to the good things in life. Surviving law school is not about the number of hours you clocked in, or the cups of coffee you have downed in the wee hours of the morning. Give yourself a reward of sorts every now and then. Know when to “recharge” when you feel like you are about to burn out.
There will be days that you would feel lonely in this journey. You will come home from a bad recitation in school, or with a failed midterm exam and you will have no one to talk to about it. But that is all right. Shrug it off and try not to be disheartened about it. Just because you felt lonely in those times does not and will never mean that you are alone in your journey. Your blockmates, friends, brods, friends and colleagues will be there to support you and give you that much needed push when you are just about to give up. Do not forget to return the favor by giving back and pay it forward when the time comes.
Stay humble. Being a “law student” does not entitle you to letting the rest of the world know that you are one. Always remember that it is but a privilege that we all strive hard to maintain one semester after another. We became law students because we wanted to be of service to other people later on. Your stay in law school will also be a test of your character: who you will be and how you will conduct yourself is indicative of what kind of lawyer you will become later on.
With those being said, let me assure you that your best years are ahead of you. You will know and discover more about yourself and how much you can achieve if you just work hard for it. Most importantly, the next four years of your life will be about growth. Make sure to make the most out of your stay.
Again congratulations, good luck, and welcome to the Ateneo Law School.
Arik (four years later)