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Feeling Lost and Alone in Law School

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33 minutes ago, sey said:

probably because you're an extroverted/not awkward person! Just confirms that everyone else is fitting in! But thanks for your input. 

Awkward introverts can fit in too :). I speak from personal experience: 28 years as a card-carrying awkward introvert. And counting. 

I formed most of my close law school friends in second and third year. Give it time. First semester of first year of law school is not really a good gauge of anything. A lot of people are finding their footing. A lot of people are putting on a bit of a performance. In my class, things calmed down after the first set of exams, as people figured out what works and what doesn't. Everyone relaxed a little and became a bit easier to be around. 

The neurosis will be in full gear again around OCIs, though. Watching the second year recruit is really a spectacle -- it's like watching some Amazonian bird mating dance on a Planet Earth documentary.

Edited by realpseudonym
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8 hours ago, sey said:

probably because you're an extroverted/not awkward person! Just confirms that everyone else is fitting in! But thanks for your input. 

I really appreciate that. I'll try to think about how there's probably one other person that feels this way. Thank you! I wish you were in my cohort, as I feel the whole process is very draining without friends. 

Thanks to everyone that has a written in the thread--I really appreciate everyone's advice. Today I felt a lot better knowing other people are experiencing this and that it is a general tone of law school to be like a high school. At least it isn't just me. Feeling more positive already! :)

Nah im an introvert and pretty awkward as well lol 

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I'm sorry you're experiencing this. I understand how sometimes it can feel like everyone has made their friends and it seems really cliquey.

I too am an introvert and have difficulty making friends; I didn't have ANY friends until I was 13 and still find it hard to be in social situations. What helped was finding my "people". Don't focus on the loudest groups who have formed their clique already. Look for someone in the room who is sitting alone and sit next to this person. Say hi. Ask where they're from, what they did their undergrad in.You won't connect with every person you introduce yourself to but there's probably another person like you who is feeling just as alone.

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1L is not a time when most people are at their best. They’re insecure and lost. That’s why it feels like high school. The friendships that I formed in law school that I still have are all from 2L and 3L, not that you can’t also form friendships in 1L. 

Also, don’t feel like law school is the only place you can make friends. Get involved in something outside of law school and make friends there. It’s good to escape the law school bubble even when you do have law school friends. 

It’s easy to feel like your legal career will be determined by how well you rank or fit in socially at law school but that’s true at all. It’s just a school. You’re a whole person outside of that.

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This is something that I struggle with as well. One piece of advice that really helps me is to remember that our minds are really good at playing tricks on us, so you're almost certainly not as awkward and unpopular as you think you are. David Burns' book Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy is a great read for this, too.  

Case in point: @Aschenbach and I go to the same school, and based on our interactions here, I was sure that Aschenbach would be one of the most popular students in our class. Sometimes our perceptions of ourselves don't match up with what others actually think of us. Hang in there -- I wish you all the best. 

Edited by Tagger
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Thank you everyone for your input--I really do feel a lot better after reading everyone's responses! I'm definitely feel a lot more motivated and positive towards the whole experience :

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This post is going to provide you with some tough love, OP, because I went through something similar to you and got through it. 

I moved to a new city to attend law school. I graduated around 1-year ago. I had a reputation for being "a character" and made most of my friends by volunteering outside of law school. In general, the friendships I formed in law school (around 10) did not have the same depth as some of my friendships in high school and in my undergraduate degree. You are no longer a young adult, and the nature of friendships have changed; any expectation that you can slide into a new group of friends is unrealistic, given the 20-30 years of lived experience each of you now have (and the baked in differences therefrom). In addition, law schools tend to create an intimidating social environment. There is now more pressure on you -- and it does not help that persons in positions of authority have begun to breathlessly emphasize the importance of cultivating a "reputation." Accordingly, I think you are overthinking your social difficulties and projecting some kind of malice where there is none. I can assure with a high degree of confidence that most students feel isolated, alone, and somewhat adrift at this new stage of their academic career. I certainly did. The solution, however, is to stay the course and recognize that 90%+ of students will graduate from law school, where most of which will secure professional careers that will serve them well in the future.

Regarding difficulties that you may have retaining materials from class, this is a normal problem that almost every student (except for those rare geniuses) go through until the week before exams. The material, individually, does not make sense because the principles you are learning in class only make sense, collectively. The material is also artificial because what you learn in law school has very little to do with being a lawyer, and more to do with being a scholar. By way of example, the purpose of summaries is to allow you to accumulate the "rules" in a manner that allows you to apply them to a complete fact pattern. Stated otherwise, you have been exposed to only one corner of a tattered portrait -- of course you can't see the entire picture, and you should not expect yourself to do otherwise. 

The good news is that almost everyone gets through law school. Like me and most others, you will end up being a student with a B or B+ average. And by achieving those grades, while relatively garbage in your undergraduate degree, will demonstrate that you understood the concepts and have proven your intelligence, commitment, and dedication to self-improvement despite bumps in the road. 

To make this clear, I almost dropped out of law school after my first month. My first semester grades were garbage because -- like you seem to be doing -- I stopped taking care of my mental health, in that I (a) ate poorly; (b) slept poorly; and (c) otherwise medicalized  expected academic difficulties as evidence that I was an imposter and did not belong. Well, without knowing you, I can assure you that you do belong in law school because you were admitted in the first place; everything you are going through will be you a better person. 

What you need to do is treat law school like your undergraduate degree. The first year of law school is by far the most difficult, but you should be able to get through the material on a 50-study week. Your second and third year of law school will be a breeze by comparision (a common nickname for the third year of law school is 3LOL) 

To get through 1L, which I know you can, you need to start doing again what I assume you did in your undergraduate degree: (a) keeping usual business hours; (b) having a life outside of law school; and (c) physically taking care of yourself. Provided you put this time in, I believe that you will be able to do well enough to a job most people can only dream of. Good luck. 

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9 hours ago, Tagger said:

This is something that I struggle with as well. One piece of advice that really helps me is to remember that our minds are really good at playing tricks on us, so you're almost certainly not as awkward and unpopular as you think you are. David Burns' book Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy is a great read for this, too.  

Case in point: @Aschenbach and I go to the same school, and based on our interactions here, I was sure that Aschenbach would be one of the most popular students in our class. Sometimes our perceptions of ourselves don't match up with what others actually think of us. Hang in there -- I wish you all the best. 

@Tagger, I thought you were the popular one! Guess great (or maybe introverted?) minds think alike :) 

But yeah... I'm sure everyone is feeling a bit lost at this point. I talked to a few classmates this afternoon and the sentiment is pretty common.

Edited by Aschenbach
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Please know that you are not alone, @sey.  2L here. So far I have found law school to be very cliquey and at times exclusionary in a way that undergrad was not.  It does feel much more like high school in that regard. I attribute much of it (especially in first year) to insecurity.  As previous posters have mentioned, it will get a bit better. 

The academic stuff will come with time - put in the work and try to be patient. For me, things started to click around February/March and this is not atypical.  Hang in there, try to focus on the big picture (learning as much as you can), and prioritize your own well-being: hobbies, exercise, whatever allows you to unwind.  

Edited by Scheherazade
typo
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I have just about nothing original to say that hasn't been said already, but since the volume of confirmation seems to be helping the OP if only through repetition, I'll add my own. I didn't make many friends in law school, and those I did make were based on outside interactions. Most of the school-based friends that got me through law school were made outside law entirely - they were in other programs. And beyond that, I simply had a far less social experience in law school than I did in undergrad. I think the difference is, it didn't really bother me. I'm not saying that to invalidate your experiences. I just found it was that way, and got used to it.

My personal theory is that most of us have only one really formative experience in school. Some people peak in high school and it never gets any better than that for them. Some students never really hit their stride until law school and report it was the best three years of their lives. But for me it was undergrad. I was involved with everything as an undergrad. I made great friends. My entire life was based on campus. In hindsight, it makes perfect sense that law school was going to feel like a let-down after that. How could it compete?

I don't regret attending law school, obviously. I needed to do it to have a career as a lawyer, which I'm very glad that I have. But in the end, it was just something I needed to get through. I wasn't unhappy during that time, but my happiness mainly came from outside the school environment. Sometimes that's just the way life is. So if that turns out to be the case for you too, there's nothing wrong with that. I'm not saying you should give up in any way, just don't regard it as necessarily a problem - yours or anyone else's.

Hope that helps.

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@adVenture Thank you for your post. I think one of the main issues for me is that I had really been looking forward to law school my whole life and built the whole thing up in my head. I had thought that since we were older it would be a welcoming and inclusionary space so I guess when reality struck it was disappointing. I don't mean to come off as malicious or negative, but I guess it did have to do with feeling very let down. That being said I will definitely try to implement the strategies you mentioned and take care of myself. Thank you again! 

 

@Diplock Thank you for your advice--I guess you're right I shouldn't look at it as being the end of the world and rather that this is just the nature of the law school experience. I appreciate that perspective a lot as I genuinely felt like there was an expectation to be a social person and make tons of friends. It is actually very liberating to think that it doesn't have to be like that and it really just school. 

 

@Scheherazade I think you're definitely right about the cliquey nature being about insecurity. I'm glad that other people have shared a similar law school experience and I'm not a complete freak for struggling. 

 

Anyways, thank you to everyone again that's written in this thread--I really do appreciate everyone's support. This thread has reminded me that though law school might not be what I had thought, I'll graduate before I know it and move on to pursing a career I enjoy!   :)

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I just wanted to hop on this thread as I was just about to make my own thread with the exact same title. OP is definitely not alone in their feelings, and I imagine at least a few others would agree.

I’m also a 1L at the U of A and I’m absolutely miserable. I’ve spent foundations easily getting along with everyone. I was joining random groups at lunch, for study parties, and in the halls. I was on a first name basis with everyone. I see a random person in the hall standing alone and I walk up and say hi. I text people asking how they’re doing. I’ve joined four different extracurriculars and work hard to chat with the people in those groups. I feel like I get along with everyone. I didn’t think there was an issue. I’ve never had problem making friends before.

But in the last few days of school, I’ve realized that ever since foundations ended, if I don’t seek people out, nobody cares if I’m there. The existing cliques have become impenetrable. I made a ton of acquaintances during foundations but no friends apparently, and now it feels too late. I even end up sitting alone in my row in classes because I show up early and then everyone else settles around me with their friends. I have literally never felt more alone in my life.

I just spent over an hour crying in my vehicle in the parking lot because I don’t know if I can spend an entire year (or three) like this. The idea that this MIGHT get better at some point seems like a very small hope. But I suppose it’s something. 

OP, I hope to hear that everything works out for you! I hope you find your stride both in classes and with the people  

Best wishes.

 

 

 

 

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29 minutes ago, tryingmybest said:

I hope that you and OP find each other somehow 

Yeah, well, "somehow" is as easy as a PM at this point. It would be a shame if we found two 1Ls at U of A in need of a friend, and they weren't able to connect! This started off sad, but could turn into a great story. 

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18 minutes ago, Diplock said:

Yeah, well, "somehow" is as easy as a PM at this point. It would be a shame if we found two 1Ls at U of A in need of a friend, and they weren't able to connect! This started off sad, but could turn into a great story. 

Even more so if they fall in love and get married soon after 3L, having went on to a great law school experience for both of them :)

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Also 1L at U of A and just wanted to say I am noticing the same thing with cliques. High school was not even a quarter this bad for me. I have 1 or 2 people I can talk to, but everyone else won’t give me the time of day when I initiate conversation. I am fortunate that I have other friends here outside of law, but I will watch out for anyone who seems to be sitting alone in lectures to see if I can help someone because this is terrible that so many people are having this experience this year. 

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I'm a 2L at U of A...

Just wanted to chime in and say my experience in 1L was pretty similar to yours. My cohort was cliquey as hell, and I spend most of 1L feeling lost and miserable. My class's average age was 23 (and I was bringing that average waaaay up!), so I just tried to shrug it off as most people still having that high school mentality. 

I had envisioned that law school would be a professional learning environment where everyone would get to know everyone, and we would all bond over a love for the law (😂). Well, that was naïve. I've adjusted my expectations big time for 2L. I'm at law school to earn a degree, not to have the best time of my life. I'm focusing in on my career goals and trying to make as many acquaintances/future business contacts as possible along the way. Thankfully I have a good support system outside of law school, so that helps. 

Hang in there, guys. If you want someone to talk to, PM me and we can meet for coffee or something. I won't give you any unsolicited upper-year advice, I promise. 

 

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On 9/19/2019 at 8:18 PM, sey said:

University of Alberta 

Pm me. I'm an upper year here who attends similar hours to 1Ls. I'll do all I can to help you feel welcome in the faculty 

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14 hours ago, LegallyHobo said:

I just wanted to hop on this thread as I was just about to make my own thread with the exact same title. OP is definitely not alone in their feelings, and I imagine at least a few others would agree.

I’m also a 1L at the U of A and I’m absolutely miserable. I’ve spent foundations easily getting along with everyone. I was joining random groups at lunch, for study parties, and in the halls. I was on a first name basis with everyone. I see a random person in the hall standing alone and I walk up and say hi. I text people asking how they’re doing. I’ve joined four different extracurriculars and work hard to chat with the people in those groups. I feel like I get along with everyone. I didn’t think there was an issue. I’ve never had problem making friends before.

But in the last few days of school, I’ve realized that ever since foundations ended, if I don’t seek people out, nobody cares if I’m there. The existing cliques have become impenetrable. I made a ton of acquaintances during foundations but no friends apparently, and now it feels too late. I even end up sitting alone in my row in classes because I show up early and then everyone else settles around me with their friends. I have literally never felt more alone in my life.

I just spent over an hour crying in my vehicle in the parking lot because I don’t know if I can spend an entire year (or three) like this. The idea that this MIGHT get better at some point seems like a very small hope. But I suppose it’s something. 

OP, I hope to hear that everything works out for you! I hope you find your stride both in classes and with the people  

Best wishes.

 

 

 

 

Pm me also, getting through first year can be a bit of a journey!

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6 hours ago, somefakename said:

I'm a 2L at U of A...

Just wanted to chime in and say my experience in 1L was pretty similar to yours. My cohort was cliquey as hell, and I spend most of 1L feeling lost and miserable. My class's average age was 23 (and I was bringing that average waaaay up!), so I just tried to shrug it off as most people still having that high school mentality. 

I had envisioned that law school would be a professional learning environment where everyone would get to know everyone, and we would all bond over a love for the law (😂). Well, that was naïve. I've adjusted my expectations big time for 2L. I'm at law school to earn a degree, not to have the best time of my life. I'm focusing in on my career goals and trying to make as many acquaintances/future business contacts as possible along the way. Thankfully I have a good support system outside of law school, so that helps. 

Hang in there, guys. If you want someone to talk to, PM me and we can meet for coffee or something. I won't give you any unsolicited upper-year advice, I promise. 

 

I think we must be friends in law school. We share a mindset 😉

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