Finding my own route

by - September 18, 2022

Having spent most of my life in the education system, there was always an obvious next step. Progressing onto the next academic year. I grew accustomed to the sense of security of knowing that I would be returning to school or in my later years, university. No matter how difficult life got and the things it threw at me, that seemed to be the one constant and something that helped ground me. Sure there were changes, like going from primary school to secondary school and secondary school to sixth form. Then sixth form to university and these had their own challenges, as all new phases do. But, there was one constant in it all, there was always a clear next step for me, even if it was different to the previous one.

As I have recently finished my degree, there is no clear path for me to take anymore. I want to be a solicitor, but I did not want to rush into Solicitors Qualifying Exams straight after my law degree without gaining some more experience in the field and using that experience to really consolidate that this is the career path I want to follow. I knew I could try the older route of the LPC (Legal Practice Course) or doing a masters, but that for me just felt like I would be delaying what I am currently faced with now. The blank - where there is no obvious path anymore and where everything is completely and entirely up to you. Whilst a pause after being in the education system for most of my life is exciting in some senses, the prospect of not knowing where I will be in a few months time was and is terrifying to me. I was dreading finishing university for a while for that very reason. 

I know I am so incredibly lucky to have been able to access education - thinking of both my grandmas, of which neither was able to access university and one of them wasn’t even able to go to secondary school, I know I am so blessed. I feel very grateful to have been able to study at the university I wanted to and complete a degree I absolutely loved. As a woman, if I had been born in a different generation, I would have been destined to be a housewife and any idea of a career in law or studying law would have been completely out of the picture and unimaginable. Even if I happened to be born in a different country to a different family across the world, I would not have been able to access education and would have significantly fewer rights than I do now. I probably wouldn’t be writing this now. But, even acknowledging how lucky I am, I think acknowledging the fact I am scared too is important. There will be other people like me, who will be lucky in some senses and also scared at not knowing what their next step is.

After having spent a while dreading the moment where I would be faced with a blank and no longer an obvious next step, I have begun to learn to embrace being uncomfortable with the unknown. Not knowing exactly where I will end up, but being okay with that. One of the main things I ended up learning from therapy is probably the fact that I am a lot more uncomfortable with not knowing things and uncertainty than I would have originally thought. What better way to face it than with my current situation now?

We are conditioned into thinking that there is a set path linear path that we are meant to take. When life eventually inevitably does not look like that, it is scary. We can feel we have failed to follow the nice linear and ideal path that was presented to us. Although you meet different kinds of people at university, the main idea and mentality that is pushed is that of always knowing your next step and moving straight onto it. There aren’t usually any ‘gaps’. Whether it be finishing your degree and then moving onto qualifications to qualify, immediately securing a job or doing a masters. The reality? Law is an incredibly competitive field and the people who go straight from law degree to the next course or straight into a job are a minority. I know this isn’t just applicable to law and most graduates and people face this at some point. Sure, for some people their paths will be linear and they will always go onto the stage and maybe never have to face uncertainty in what their next step will be. But for most of us, I feel there will be a point where we are faced with not having a clear path and we will have to find our own way and own route.

Whilst this is scary and I originally thought not ideal, I am beginning to realise that, really, it adds character. It makes my story more interesting and means I get to pick up more life lessons and experiences along the way. After all, what makes people interesting are the different routes they have taken to end up where they wanted to be. Being conventional, whilst useful in some ways in making your life easier, doesn’t help you grow or find yourself the same way a non-linear and non-conventional route does. So here is to not knowing where will be and embracing life for what it is, a whirlwind and a range of different possibilities to choose from based on the cards we are dealt in life.

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