*De Minimis and MULSS invite you to post a message for Kate at the bottom of this article*
KATE VAN HOOFT
Volume 9, Issue 7
Hey so, umm...I'm leaving. It's not you, it's me. I've gone back to study and I needed a job with flexibility, plus a change of scene. I want to say it's not personal but actually it totally is, and always has been...for me at least. I think you are hilarious and awesome and inspiring and beautiful. But I'm still going. I'm sorry.
That said, I know I'm leaving in the middle of semester and this is not the best time (and I know especially because I have an assignment in two weeks I haven't started) (seriously I'm in a bit of a jam here. The irony of asking for an extension is just too enormous)(but it'll totes come to that, give it a few days). So in that vein, here's one last Wellbeing FAQ. Thank you, guys. It’s been a pleasure. Good luck.
Oh shit, you're leaving?
Is someone going to be doing wellbeing when you go?
Yes, I am assured that the position will be refilled. There will also be interim measures (TBC) while this is happening, so students can still get advice and assistance as needed. If you need help before the position is formally refilled, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org and someone will respond ASAP.
Are you going to be around at all? Even maybe for coffee?
If you're buying, sure.
What am I going to do with my life?
Good question! I have no idea, but I'm sure it's going to be awesome. I actually get asked that a lot, and I don't have an answer. I mean, I can't, it's your life and you're the expert. All I can say is that the question is good; it will stop you blindly falling from one job to another trying to fumble towards some sort of knowing or understanding about yourself and the world around you. Always ask what you're doing and why. The answer is to question. So good job, you're pretty much already there.
What if I don't get a good job?
First of all, define good. Now think about how you've defined it and think about whether or not you agree with yourself. Think about what makes jobs good; salaries? Good start, but keep going. Status? Well apparently not according to me, I'm studying social work. Something that makes you feel good about yourself? Something that makes you feel like you helped? Something that is inherently rewarding beyond material gain? Yes, better.
So now we have maybe a clearer idea of what a good job looks like for you. If it's still about status and salary that's cool, how about a chat with the Careers office for some strategy advice? If it's more about helping people and growing and leaving the world in a better place than when you found it, well done. You have no further homework. You’re welcome to chat with the Careers Office too, but just remember everything from here on in is a good job, regardless of what it actually is.
Clerkships. That is all.
Ok so my feelings on clerkships are pretty well known. Alls I'll say is this; careful not to make them represent more than they actually do (as in, don't turn an opportunity into the sole reason for your existence, the sum total of your self-worth, the entire point of this taxing and expensive degree, the sole arbiter of whether you deserve to live or to perish). It's really easy to aspire to be the best (and you're probably used to being the best because high achievers and generally smart beans), to hear/see/absorb the message that clerkships = top tier = the best, and then shove every last egg you have into that basket. As much as you can, don't. If you are going to do clerkships, make sure you do them for the right reason; an opportunity, a chance to learn. That's all.
Two things to remember; one: clerkships won't give you the answers. If you don't get one, that doesn't mean you can't get the answers either. The answers to what? The questions, the endless bullshit questions, are still going to be there whether you get a clerkship or not. What am I doing with my life (see above)? Will this degree be worth it? I'm a high achiever and if I don't get to the top then who am I as a person? I don't even know anymore? Also this feels like a lot of rhetorical questions?
And two: Clerkships may not be right for you. That's cool! It doesn't mean you have no value or that you're not competitive (also another rhetorical question; why all the competing?). There are other ways to be a law graduate. There are other (maybe even better) ways to get employed. None of those options are a consolation prize if you didn't get, or didn't even want, a clerkship. If you don't want to do the work in a clerkship, you don't have to. It's cool to have the courage of your own convictions and to opt out. It's totally fine.
Also, consider this; if you don't think you want a clerkship but you feel like you should because it's a good opportunity, remember that you're taking a summer out to do something that probably won't send you in the right direction, and could very well stall you. That's an opportunity lost in that you could be using that summer to further your career in a direction you would prefer to go in straight off the bat. You don't get many summers so that's a good chance to look at internships or volunteering or even just working to save $$ for the next year. Clerkships aren't just an opportunity and that's all, they also come at the expense of something else you could be doing with those weeks/months. Something that might suit you better. So just think about it carefully, is what I'm saying.
I think I kind of hate this?
Well, yeah. This is stressful. You're learning very challenging material, you're under enormous pressure, everyone else appears to have their shit together and you're totally the only one in the world who feels out of control. Fair enough. Don't beat yourself up for it though, just because you thought it was going to be Suits and Legally Blonde and it's turning out more Teddy from Scrubs.
It'll get better. Or you'll graduate. Either way, something will happen. This is temporary. Don't use it to torture yourself. It'll be worth it, and you'll be OK...even if you can't say what OK is right now.
That said though, have you got a mate you could talk to? Either from the course or not, it doesn't really matter, but this feels like an important conversation you should have with a person not a newspaper. You can also go to Counselling, who are awesome. That's your call, but have a chat with someone. You're not alone, but you won't find that out until you ask someone.
Because here's the thing, something I've noticed. Law school is a bit competitive. Seriously, I know it's hard to believe, but stay with me. That competitiveness means that people don't really admit when they're feeling terrified. Almost everyone walks around terrified (and if they don't, well screw them, they're not our kind of person) but no one says anything. It makes for a very isolating experience.
You're just going to have to take my word on this one. In 2014 I saw, on average, 600+ students/year in appointments and that's not counting my emails and calls. I didn’t even bother counting in 2015. It's a big job because there's a lot of need out there. I'm not complaining, to be honest I felt (and still feel) really honoured that so many of you trusted me with your problems. But regardless, if sheer volume means anything it must mean that you're not alone.
Uni's OK except he/she dumped me. :(
Oh that sucks. I'm sorry. Have a tissue, they're Aloe Vera (that's the good shit).
So you're going to be sad. That's ok, let it happen. I think sometimes we forget that we're allowed to be sad about relationships and get all upset when we don't feel better in a few days time like it's something you can just walk away from. You can let yourself off the hook on that one. Think about people who are mourning a loved one. You're doing the same, except they're alive but the relationship has died. It's OK to mourn it. A death has happened.
That said, think about what you really want from a relationship and ask yourself if you were getting it in that instance. What are your deal breakers? What are your absolutely-will-not-cross-the-line-nosir-I-don't-care-how-pretty-you-are values that you will not forsake holy crap though did you see them in that blue shirt mother of God it's like they're trying to actually kill me now. Some fundamental values might be that you require trust and loyalty. You may require respect. You may require that they don't make you drive out to Keilor to watch their under 19's indoor cricket team lose to Melton in the middle of July on a Thursday, Ryan. Either way, now's a good time to think about what you won't compromise. My suggestions; your integrity, your dignity, your self-worth. Ask yourself if these things were protected and valued in this relationship. No? Ok, walk.
Maybe? Yeah ok, you can pine for a bit but then you have to study. Seriously, like an hour or two tops before you can Netflix. There ya go, champ.
I don't know what it is but I don't feel right.
So yeah, this warrants further investigation. If something feels off, it’s off. You know you best, you're the expert on the topic of you, so if you're feeling a little funky then yes, there is funk. You can do a couple of things;
Is it going to be OK?
Can we still stay in touch?
I'd really, really like that. I'm on Facey, drop me an email and I'll add you.
Any last thoughts?
Yes, actually, ta for asking. I want you to know that even though you are amazing and incredible, it actually doesn't really matter. Even if you were just a trash person you would still be worth value and respect. You're not a trash person, so it's a moot point (am I saying that right? I never knew if I was saying that right and it stressed me out no end) but in any case. It's so easy to get caught up in that thinking that it's not enough to do something, that you have to do it well. You have to be the best at it. You have to be top bloody tier.
But I call bullshit on that thinking. I am totally guilty of it too, and it shits me no end. We as people are not wholly about how well we can do things, how good those things are in comparison to everyone else, how much we can contribute and the quality of that contribution. Try to resist the thinking that you need to obtain a certain level, that you need to get to a certain spot, before you can accept or value yourself. Try to let the value come first, and the achievements after (as a special bonus, but that’s all). You deserve respect and to appreciate your achievements, regardless of how well you did them. You did them. You are doing them. That's enough. In the same way that you are you, and it doesn't matter how good at being you you are. You are you. And that's enough. You are already enough.
Kate Van Hooft is MLS's outgoing Wellbeing Officer. Kate, you'll be sorely missed and we wish you all the very best for the future.
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