Balancing the chaos

IC SunsetThere’s something steadying about braiding my hair, about trusting myself to somehow hold it all together. Shaking it out, I watch my curls fall in every direction. As I braid, I fold structure into something that simply doesn’t have it.

Five weeks into my first semester of law school, I find myself seeking out structure in unexpected spaces. I focus for a moment on twisting my hair into a crown, tucking in loose strands throughout the day, checking to see if it’s still in place.

The breadth of new information is almost dizzying, my head spinning with new terminology, Latin words, commas in places my essayist brain can’t comprehend. Focusing for a moment on something like braiding my hair, something I taught myself in middle school, is restorative in its simplicity and innateness.

As if I can do this one little thing really, really well, certainly I can get through 1L year.

For a long time, I pressured myself to be as productive as possible in the morning, often waking up before 5 to send emails, study and check off the five quintessential morning tasks of “successful people.” You know, the ones in those list-icles I always open because I’m a sucker for clickbaity shit.

Since starting law school, my mornings have taken on a new, sacred nature, as I open the windows around 6:45. Wrapping a lime green, fuzzy blanket around my arms like a cape, I relish the chilly air, remembering how often I had wished for windows that opened in my last apartment in Des Moines. While I wait for my hair to dry, I read the essays and articles that inevitably pile up in my tabs during the week. I hadn’t forgotten you, I think to myself, escaping into new stories and TED Talks in no particular order.

“Don’t let law school kill your creativity,” several lawyer friends told me before I moved to Iowa City. This post has taken me nearly two weeks to finish; it’s only 400-some words long. Maybe I’m losing my creative writing edge already. Perhaps it’s just the lack of sustained periods of time in which I can sit and write.

Time feels so much more compressed in law school. I feel guilty for taking breaks, for letting my mind wander and weave as it inevitably has in this post. Everything in legal writing follows a structure guided by strange-sounding acronyms: CREAC, IRAC, etc.

It is funny how abandoning structure in some senses and seeking it out in others creates a semblance of balance, of the perfect kind of organized disarray. I guess I wouldn’t have 1L year any other way.

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