Fire in Your Belly

Image Description: Winter sunrise through an archway of trees at the dog park. I really really love being able to walk to a nice big dog park.

We are half-way through [REDACTED]’s first year of law school and one of the main conversation topics in our home recently has been his plans for the summer.

In law school, you are expected to seek out summer opportunities related to – you guessed it – the law. These summer opportunities range from internships to clerkships and can come with a minimal stipend to almost a year’s salary (or so I’m told) over the course of three months.

The location of these opportunities also range.

Sunday morning, [REDACTED] drove back down to our old neck of the woods and stayed with some friends for a networking event with local firms. Part of me enjoyed some quiet time to myself, but mostly the house just felt empty without him there.

The whole point of his trip was to make connections. Connections that could lead to future work – summer work, perhaps.

It is here that I feel the creep of envy and anger into what I have worked so hard to hold in a positive and optimistic light. I have found contentment in the present moment – I am settled in at work, albeit missing the bright passion and joy of my work-life from before the move, we are settled in our new home, but the future is far from set in stone. (I’m starting to wonder if it ever will be – ugh, eternal growing pains!?)

Once again, we are faced with options and opportunities that don’t necessarily fit with one another’s personal aspirations or situations.

While [REDACTED] searches and applies for what he might do this summer, I feel the familiar sensation of being stuck. Wherever he goes this summer, I will be here, in this new place.

He is mostly applying to things nearby, and he has assured me that those are his first priority, but it’s more complicated than that.

It is an uneasy process of trying to plant and grow a garden in a new place while keeping our old roots intact. My instinct tends towards rooting wherever I am – I am a nester, a home-body, a hygge connoisseur, and all of those things require some amount of stability and restfulness.

Before we moved, I had plans to make law school a three-years-and-done commitment. We would move, live somewhere else for three years, then move back – I would go back to where I was before law school, ready to dive back in, as if I had never left.

With that in mind, connections from this networking event are incredibly important. Making a good impression, landing a job, and taking a summer job in our old city could mean that [REDACTED] has a spot ready and waiting for him if (or when) we decide to move back!

But – and this is a big one – I don’t want the next three years to feel like I am just biding my time. I want them to yield growth and learning for me too, which means that while [REDACTED] makes connections in our old city, I am actively growing my network in this new city.

If he gets an offer for a summer job two hours away, with pay that is closer to the “year’s salary” end of the scale, it’s going to be hard to say no to that.

Even if it isn’t a matter of money (say, two equally low-paying opportunities are offered) and one is something he has always wanted to do but it’s out-of-town while the other allows him to stay in-town but doesn’t spark his passion – I want to say “go.”

I’ll rent out the spare bedroom for a few months and live with a roommate. (No I won’t – I would have the zoo of animals with me!)

Image Description: Our pup gazes into the camera with her bright yellow eyes. Her coat almost blends in with the woodchips of the path we are walking.

We’ve never been “long-distance” unless you count the summers in our first few years of dating when we both lived at home – about 600 miles apart – for two or three months at a time, but that was years ago. I think I would handle it better than he would. He is a more social, extroverted, dog-person while I am definitely more on the aloof cat-person end of the spectrum.

Now that I know the difference between work that puts a fire in your belly, makes you want to get up in the morning, stay late at night, and come back on the weekends and work that is bland, but sustaining, I want [REDACTED] and I both to have the kind of work that sparks joy. I want him to pursue what he is passionate about, even if that means that we will spend a few months apart.

The bigger question is around his 2L summer, since (apparently) the work you do during the summer after your second year of law school is generally how you are offered a position, ready and waiting for you upon graduation. For those gigs, you apply in the fall of your second year.

Luckily, fall is still half a year away, although even that feels very soon. I’m cautiously optimistic that the right doors will open at the right times for [REDACTED] and I. I am starting my own search to try and rekindle the fire in my belly and find some way of growing alongside my husband in preparation for the road ahead – whether that means staying where we are, or returning to where we were.

I’m not “job hunting,” but I am keeping my eyes peeled, and trying to spark against whatever comes my way.

I recognize that I have been in a bit of a slump, the “what-ifs” and anxieties are getting a little bit louder recently than I wish they were. This past year has forced me to do a lot of self-reflection and focus on “me” – it is not something I enjoy or am comfortable doing. My self-reflection is often highly critical, overly harsh, and not very kind. I did some research, made a call, and left a message to schedule an appointment to talk to someone about that.

Whatever nudge you need for the coming year, friend – go find your spark, go get some fire in your belly.

I wish that for you too.

Image Description: Another highly wished-for sighting- potential animal friendship!? One of our cats and our pup snooze inches away from each other. 

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