Volume 7, Issue 5
Updating the ‘extra-curricular’ heading of my resume is the only experience that gives me anything approximating pleasure any more. Everything else is dust. Genuine human interactions have given way to something far more satisfying: wondering, at any given point, what the person standing in front of me can do to help me flesh out my CV.
There is, to paraphrase a personal hero of mine, an idea of myself, but there is no real me. Only a resume, something illusory. And though I can hide my cold gaze, and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours, and maybe you can even sense our lives at law school are probably comparable… I simply am not there.
Readings, and attending seminars (once my only source of self-betterment) have ceased to satisfy me. Only the relentless pursuit of avoiding them remains. My hunger to volunteer for increasingly absurd numbers of humanitarian organisations is insatiable. Last week I promised to help mentor recently arrived refugee children during the difficult transition into Australian society ….and last week I really intended to do that. The exhilaration I feel at taking on a new responsibility is matched only by the gut-wrenching relief I experience when I avoid that responsibility by pretending I have ‘too much Uni work to do’.
The best part about being in a prestigious law program: everyone assumes you’re busier than they are. Especially when it’s deliberately the only thing you mention when someone asks ‘how are you?’ My absolute faaavorite part of volunteering is when someone thanks me for my time, knowing that I just told them how valuable my time is (I find bleeding-heart lefties are the best listeners). This experience internally validates my decision to let that same person do that job alone in a month or so. That is, if they aren’t snowed-under by reading applications for my replacement.
This week I’m going to be driving food vans around to help feed some of society’s most vulnerable people. Next week? Who knows. Maybe I’ll start a law school society for the advancement of all of the ethnic minorities who, because as a class they are busy working 7 days a week or whatever, lack the free time to do as much work for the Oaktree Foundation as me. But I deserve that free time. I went to two free barbecues for Oaktree. It was emotionally exhausting to pretend that I cared about their values and vision for Australian society. But hey, you don’t get something for nothing.
And before you start wagging your finger at me: I worked really hard at private school! I mean, sure, when you look at how much academic support I got to get to where I am now (that is, when I wasn’t playing polo at the school’s privately owned hobby farm) I might have had a little leg-up. But no one ever stops to think about how hard it is to read Plato in Greek after all the champagne they serve at bi-weekly Grammar school sailing regattas. The hangovers you get on Veuve Clicquot are just the worst, aren’t they?
That might sound modest, but I can’t take all the credit. I derive a tremendous amount of spiritual strength from my favorite author, Ayn Rand: ‘to say “I love you” one must first be able to say the “I”’. That’s beautiful, isn’t it? I remind myself of it every time I lie in an interview in response to the question “why do you want to work for us?” But it’s not like I’m taking advantage of them. In order to function these small, well-meaning organisations rely on people like me to do a few days of work due to the crippling volunteer attrition rate that apparently exists in the not-for-profit sector.
And don’t pretend that you don’t do it as well. You love to do this. You just might not like the fact that I’m honest about it. And I suppose I should thank you: this has been cathartic for me. But I have to finish here. I have to get to Footscray Community Legal Centre. I have an interview there at 5. I was supposed to be meeting my moot team (our submission was due hours ago—LOL!) but I just YOLO’d that shit. Oh, but before I go …do you know anyone at Malleson’s who I could name-drop on my cover letter?
Anon is a second-year JD student.