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atychiphobia – fear of failure

18 April, 2008

Tomorrow I am going to Drake Women in Law Day, which includes a mock class. As I mentioned before, I received an email of a case that I should read and prepare a brief for so that if I get called on, I won’t look like a moron.

It isn’t a difficult case or anything (Mas v Perry). In fact after reading it, I already pretty much know the answers to the questions. My guess is that it’s a simplified version of the true case, but I could be wrong. Anyway, I feel anxious over the possibility that I will get called on and make an idiot of myself in front of my future classmates. And it’s April. MONTHS before school even starts. That is no way to start fresh, and no way to set myself up for success.

I’ve read the story a thousand times. Amazingly Wonderful Undergrad Student trots off to law school with idealism and optimism to spare, and AWUS is hit hard when they realize how much reading and writing they have to do and that the professor calls on them RANDOMLY and they don’t get straight A’s. Frankly, I’m pretty accustomed to the steady stream 4.0s I have earned over the past two years. But I suppose the difference between me and AWUS is that I am well aware of the fact that I should not expect to earn straight A’s in law school.

So my fear is not that I am not going to be Ms. Perfect Grades anymore. I’ve pretty much accepted that fact. My fear is that I am going to completely fail. As in fall-on-my-face-and-choke, fail. I hope I am not the only one who is awaiting August anxiously, reading and re-reading books about law school and hoping to figure out a study plan that works for me before I even get there despite the fact that I know it isn’t even practical. I don’t have to be first in my class. I just don’t want to fail.

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. 19 April, 2008 7:32 am

    When you say “I don’t expect straight A’s in law school” I hear the tiny voice in your head saying “I’ll take a few A-minuses and the occasional B+.” I have no idea how steep the curve is at your school, but its ridiculous at mine. I’m a 2L currently in the top 11% of my class and have more B/B- grades than I would like (i.e. ANY! i.e. more than one!).

    I have some pre-L book suggestions… email me if you like.

  2. 19 April, 2008 8:17 pm

    Set your sights high. You JUST MIGHT be No. 1, and you want to be prepared for that, don’t you?

  3. 20 April, 2008 7:53 pm

    Don’t worry – the cold calling doesn’t stop, but the anxiety does. Everybody is really nervous and comes off as such the first couple of weeks. Then it dies down and people are willing to say “I don’t know” with amazing confidence and request “co-counsel” – aka having someone else answer. Good luck in your mock class!

  4. 21 April, 2008 8:36 am

    butterflyfish: Well, I asked a professor who emailed me as part of recruiting about the curve, and she said there’s no mandatory curve. Obviously individial professors will vary. I think you’re partially right, but I’m fully prepared for Bs and Cs. I will definitely have to email you, thanks!!

    Hoss: Well, yes. But I have to be realistic too. 🙂

    Elizabeth: LOL Well, I suppose that’s comforting too. Thank you!

  5. Llama Momma permalink
    21 April, 2008 9:20 am

    Just remember…you won’t be working full time…your sole responsibility will to be a student. I think you can get straight A’s…that will not surprise me one bit. I know you are scared but maybe a little fear isn’t a bad thing. Then you aren’t walking in there with a big head but with your feet firmly planted on the ground.

  6. 21 April, 2008 9:25 am

    llama: You make a good point. I hope that after a schedule of 40 hours of work, 20+ hours of school, and 15 hours of an internship will make either just school or school and a minor part time job seem like a breeze. The only thing I worry about is sometimes it doesn’t matter how much time you have…if you don’t get it, you don’t get it. I hope you’re right, though!

  7. Amber/Daydreamer permalink
    21 April, 2008 4:48 pm

    Liss not only do I believe you are capable of getting straight A’s, I fully believe that you WILL NOT come anywhere near to failing. If it’s one thing I’ve learned about you since I’ve met you is that you Ma’am, can do ANYTHING you set your mind to. Anything, you hear me? Now, take a deep breath and remember that. Also, remember that you have many people cheering you on that wholly believe in your possibility. And it’s okay to feel this way because you wouldn’t be normal if you didn’t. BUT STILL!!!! Remember you are a strong and capable woman. Am I making my point clear here? Hehehe!

  8. 22 April, 2008 8:21 am

    Thanks, Amber. You’re clear…and it almost feels like a lecture. A loving lecture, though. 🙂 *hugs*

  9. Amber/Daydreamer permalink
    22 April, 2008 6:35 pm

    Sorry. It’s the Mom in me.

  10. 23 April, 2008 9:17 am

    Heh. No worries, dearest.

  11. gizza permalink
    29 May, 2008 10:55 am

    would you please get over it. life is more than grades — doing well in law school is not necessarily an indication of how good a lawyer you will be. I have had the most random law school exams where success was governed by how well you knew the professors fictional take on the subject. The longer you study law the more complexity you will see in it and the more you will see the hollowness of legal exams. Just make sure you do enough to get grades to give you the job you want and forget the rest. remember its a whole big game — doing moot court and getting elected to some random law journal is worth more than a few A’s.

  12. 29 May, 2008 11:49 am

    I never said that all there was to life was grades. I merely expressed anxiety over the possibility of completely failing out of law school, which is a valid concern. Grades matter for your first job, and I’m well aware that there is more to law school than just grades – but you need decent enough grades to participate in law journal, too.

    Thanks for the advice, but next time could you be a little less condescending and attacking?

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