Reframing

I wished that law school would go away

It didn’t.

I didn’t want to talk about law school.

I had to.

I didn’t want to think about law school.

I did.

Whether I wanted to or not, I thought about law school all the time. I catastrophized every step of the process for [REDACTED] to become a lawyer and my fear and anxiety grew:

“Picking a law school meant signing on to thousands of dollars in loans for [REDACTED] and the burden of financially supporting a small family for me…”

“If we picked a school in another city we would have to leave all of our friends and go somewhere where we didn’t know anyone. And making new friends as an adult is impossible….”

“When classes started, [REDACTED] would make friends and be so busy he wouldn’t have time for me anymore, and I wouldn’t know anyone else, so I would be alone. Plus, since we would have to move to another city, I would be miserable in my new job, and I would be stuck in my new job because I would have to be able to pay our rent and provide insurance and….”

If you’ve read up until now and been nothing but sympathetic, I know – it sounds awful. Those thoughts and ideas are valid concerns, but that doesn’t make them reality.

The overwhelming sense of impending doom denied any opportunity for hope or excitement at the prospect of law school as a great new adventure for both of us

If there is one thing I have taken away from therapy, it is the concept of “reframing.” Reframing, in this case, is simply telling the story differently. “Law school is a terrifying unknown” vs. “law school is a new adventure.”

It isn’t always easy, and there are definitely moments (or even days) when the negatives pile up and I can’t seem to change my mind or my attitude about them.

There is a quote from Peter Pan that I think about a lot when I am faced with catastrophic thoughts – “To die would be an awfully big adventure.” I know, that sounds morbid, but it isn’t. Peter thinks this when he imagines himself stranded on a rock that will soon be covered by water when the tide comes in.

He doesn’t die (he gets saved by a bird, go figure) but his mentality is always one of curiosity – no matter how terrifying the things he is facing. I really like Peter Pan.

So, to reframe my downward spiraling thoughts might look something like this:

When [REDACTED] starts law school (his first day was actually yesterday!), between classes and studying, are events that both of us can attend and meet people. Plus, since he will be busy with readings, I can explore things that I feel passionate about – or, pick up a part-time job and make friends with my co-workers! Making friends isn’t always easy, but it’s not impossible.

Seeing friends takes time and planning, whether you live in the same city or are hours apart, and like anything worthwhile, friendships take time and intention to flourish.

Some of my favorite people, I have met through work. Starting a new job is an opportunity to grow my skills, learn new things, and meet new people.

Taking out loans might be scary, but some law schools provide scholarships and that can reduce the cost of attendance by a lot. Plus, those loans are an investment in [REDACTED] and someday (hopefully) we will be able to pay them all off.

In the end, my fears around moving and finding a new job and making new friends didn’t make choosing a school any easier.

But you know what did?

The money.

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