24: Unapologetic, ruthless, unwavering

Kinnick queen.

Kinnick queen.

The quiet in the law library pulses almost — the kind of silence that asserts itself. I want to be like it, I sometimes think: unapologetic, ruthless, unwavering. It’s a bit extra in the best possible way.

Silence like it used to suffocate me. I wanted to fill it with people and stories and questions and words. Anything.

Since starting law school in August, I’ve gravitated to the quiet, letting it swallow me, or maybe “embrace” is the better, gentler word.

But this past year has been anything but gentle. There is something about actively taking control of my time and energy that still feels a little dangerous — like the time I told my parents I was going to the neighboring town to play tennis when I was 17, but I really went to see the boy I liked at the time. (Sorry, Mom.)

That’s what I did this year. A lot of cool, scary shit.

I got into my top-choice law school. I quit my first full-time, post-grad job. I went to Europe for 10 days and visited three countries. I battled my insurance company because it didn’t think my IUD was a medical necessity (and won).

I blocked men on the internet and my phone and stopped feeling guilty for prioritizing my emotional health over toxic relationships. I moved to Iowa City and started law school. I wrote about the first time a man ever told me he loved me. I did a public reading of one of my personal essays. I went to the eye doctor for the first time in more than a decade and finally got glasses.

I read beautiful, poetic prose obsessively, hungrily, taking in the rhythm and artistry all summer leading up to law school. I’ve since obsessively read cases and doctrine, learning to be a new kind of reader with a different analytical lens.

I wrote a Twitter thread about being sexually assaulted a couple weeks after I turned 24. I’m not ready to write a blog post about it yet, but I’ve been working to come to terms with it and understand that what happened to me wasn’t my fault.

Learning how to be my own best advocate was the scariest thing of all, the thing that weaved its way through every decision and life change and in-between phase. Studying to be a legal advocate for others made me realize I wasn’t being a good advocate for myself.

During my 24th year, I studied, blocked, unfriended, spoke up, read out loud, packed all my things into boxes, made eyes at smoldery European men and didn’t apologize for not saying “I love you” back.

I guess I am unapologetic, ruthless and unwavering. Hell, maybe it’s been pulsing through my veins all along.

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