How the LSAT is keeping me sane

My sister sent me a kicks T. rex card, and it makes a perfect LSAT bookmark.

My sister sent me a kickass T. rex card, and it makes a perfect LSAT bookmark.

It’s a magical, mystical world, almost. There are soda fountains with sodas named things like “Luck” and “Mist.” There are closets full of dresses in every fabric you could imagine. There are disc jockeys who flip between ballads and club hits with ease.

It feels pretty make-believe most of the time, but there are rules, myriad rules, that strip the magic from this world. The gauze dress can’t be next to the silk dress (who the hell owns a gauze dress anyway?). “Mist” and “Luck” can’t be first or fourth at the soda fountain. And the DJ has to play three consecutive ballads before he can bust out some dance tunes (no one turns up at the club to three back-to-back slow jams, really). This is the LSAT, a maddening, sometimes demoralizing world in which I’ve found a strange sense of comfort, an escape, even. The complete improbability of each Logic Game invites me to enter an alternative universe.

I’ve felt emptied this year, emptied of energy, emptied by a faltering relationship I should have ended months ago, emptied by anemic exhaustion that unpredictably comes and goes. The LSAT, or my desired score, rather, reenergized me. Finally, a number goal that has nothing to do with my iron count or hemoglobin level. I write “160,” my goal, on Post-It notes and stick them everywhere: inside my ESL lesson planner, on my mirror, tucked in my tennis bag. It reminds me not to ruminate on the bummer numbers, the ones that ultimately remind me I don’t know how I’ll feel in an hour, tomorrow, next week.

My LSAT number is getting better, usually only a point or two each time I take a practice test; but, better. Even as I laugh and gripe about nonsensical situations rooted in the test’s skewed reality, and as I experience moments of pure madness (read: every logic game ever), the LSAT has, strangely, kept me sane. My study routine anchors me in a make-believe world en route to real-world future lawyering. No, I can’t control where the gauze dress hangs in the closet or when Club LSAT throws down a dance tune, but I can control my study schedule and my eventual goal of becoming an attorney in the nonprofit sector, perhaps helping refugees gain citizenship.

2016 is already … memorable. I celebrated my first full-time work anniversary at the organization I love. I’m facing ongoing medical issues and uncertainty. I’m running two half marathons. I’m approaching my first full year of vegetarianism. But above all, this is the year I redefined how I want to use my words in the future; I want to be a legal advocate.

It’ll take one LSAT (or two), several years of study, and yeah, probably late-night flipping between ballads and dance tunes. But it’s exactly what I need and want — a rare and magical combination.

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