Law in Contemporary Society

My Comfortable Vanity

By JoeTeresi - 10 Mar 2017

As a lawyer, I'll be unhappy in the future because I don't care about justice. I'm much more worried about this statement than I was 2 months ago. The first draft for this assignment I wrote trying to convince myself past the doubts that I had considered prior to attending law school, crept into my weekly worries in my first semester and thought about significantly more the second semester. In that draft, I said I had disassociated my whole life. It had always worked for me. I was good at it. Lawyers have to compartmentalize to deal with handling clients, their own interests, and life outside the law. Since compartmentalizing things was required and I was good at just that, it followed that I would be happy and a fine lawyer. I wrote this with confidence. I was wrong. My confidence was faulty and na´ve.

Hunkering down works to a degree. I thought disassociating was the perfect solution to the problems I encountered. It had always worked for me or at least worked to enough to keep me from trying to find a new solution. But, I found its limit. My dad passed the week before my contracts final. So, I did what I preached. I hunkered down, denied my feelings, rationalized his death, and kept on moving forward. For a time, it worked. It got me through finals relatively unscathed. Then it stopped. I'm stuck now.

I have regrets; both with respect to my father and my life as a whole. I forwent saying things in the interest of comfort for myself and my dad. I chose to avoid or mitigate conflict in the interest of serenity. I was alright with it because I thought sometime in the future I’d get to do what I’d put off. I can’t anymore and those lost opportunities are gnawing at me. By putting off the true things I wanted to say for the sake of comfortable vanity, I stymied our relationship. I thought I was helping it. Once again, I was wrong.

I do the same thing in all aspects of my life. I forego true realization in favor of keeping my comfortable fašade intact. It’s easier and leads me to believe I have a greater control over my life. For example, I spent 1000 words explaining how I’d compartmentalize the parts of being a lawyer I thought would bring me happiness from the parts I thought I’d loathe. I wrote an essay explaining how I’d accept the pieces that fit in my fašade and discard the incongruous pieces. Just by writing that piece, I was reinforcing my comfortable fašade.

I lose out on a lot though. It took me losing my father to realize what I’d lost with respect to him. Denying or avoiding the truth made things easier, but in the long run, it hurts more than it helps. My father denied, denied, and denied some more. He was chronically extremely unhappy. I do the same thing with the same results, except I’m not at extremely unhappy merely unhappy. I don’t want disassociation to be my maxim anymore because inevitably my fašade will come down leaving me worse off than if I had not even made it. I couldn’t keep up my disassociation for my father’s death and I won’t be able to do it for the rest of my life like I originally planned.

So, did I matriculate because I love justice? No. Did I matriculate because I hate injustice? No. I matriculated because I thought I’d find satisfaction as a lawyer. I’d be a member of a profession, challenged with interesting and novel problems on a regular basis, and make a good living.

Will I be happy as a lawyer? I might or I might not be. I can accept that. If I’m not, I’ll do my best to notice why. Addressing and noticing why will be the first step towards gaining my happiness back. If I’m irrevocably unhappy as a lawyer, I’ll consider other options. I won’t recklessly and consciously avoid reality like I originally planned. However, much of my personal denial is done unconsciously. It took me losing my father to realize the extent I did so with him. Reading your comments for the first time I was ready to double down on my first draft. Even as I first started writing this I was set on doubling down. I kept writing the same thing over and over – I want to be comfortable and happy, the best way to do that is disassociation, and I will do just that. I don’t want that anymore. To that end, I’m not ready to attack everything head-on. I don’t have the skill, guile, experience, or genius to do that. I probably couldn’t even do so if I wanted. For too long I’ve ignored my gut for the sake of my fašade and at this moment I’m having trouble enough with the little bit that’s broken. Meaningful change might not even come from writing this. I can’t say with confidence that I’m going to flip a switch and stop disassociating everything that doesn’t fit smoothly in the persona I’ve cultivated, but, merely saying as much as I have is farther than I’ve ever gotten before.

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r3 - 31 May 2017 - 06:26:19 - JoeTeresi
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