If I tell you I graduated with my undergraduate degree in just three years, hiked over 700 miles on the Appalachian Trail, or landed my first post-grad job only a month before graduating from law school, it would hopefully sound impressive. But sharing those facts alone wouldn’t tell you the whole story, because behind each of those achievements was a different goal I failed at first.
I believe that if you haven’t failed at anything in life, you must not be challenging yourself enough. It’s very common that people are afraid of failure and go to great lengths to avoid it. While fear of failure is understandable, in reality it’s not a fear worth holding onto. Because failure isn’t what defines you, it’s how you get back up.
The things I’ve failed at are the foundation of who I am. Without them, I probably wouldn’t even be a lawyer at all. Growing up I had a passion for the arts and wanted to be a performer, but I wasn’t accepted to any college program for acting I auditioned for. When I wanted to get a BFA degree in musical theater at my university, I was rejected from that too. So I shifted gears, graduated early, and applied to law school. And thanks to that decision, I had an extra year to work and backpack on the Appalachian Trail before I started school. Skills I had before of resourcefulness and self-reliance were strengthed when I was hiking and camping for days between towns.
And yet, I failed in that experience as well. My goal had been to hike the whole trail, but I wasn’t able to fit it in before needing to leave for law school. When it came time for law school, although academically I was successful, I initially struggled to find my place. I felt overwhelmed and inferior. Amidst a sea of future corporate lawyers, I was one of few who wanted to go into a more “human” area of law, and even fewer who wanted to pursue criminal law.
For me, the drive to become a lawyer has always been to work with real people and help them with their problems, and eventually I found friends in peers who felt similarly. Different things appeal to each of us, but what I particularly love about being a lawyer who works with real people is being able to take something complicated and explain it so it makes sense to someone. Not just some abstract concept or quirk of civil procedure, but real, practical law that affects everyone.
When something is woven into society as much as law is, I believe it should be accessible and understandable to every part of society. Complicated statutes and rules are even more confusing when you’re thrown into the legal system without a warning, and the situation may feel hopeless. When you experience failure, you might feel like things won’t ever be ok again. It’s hard to even imagine how you’re going to get back up. However, things won’t change for the better unless you take action. I’ve seen it firsthand, and more importantly, I’ve lived it. Now, as a defense attorney, I have the honor of being able to take people from their setbacks and help them get back up again.
Failure is not the end, it is the beginning. And while that doesn’t make it any easier to go through, every setback I’ve encountered taught me something new, and opened new opportunities I hadn’t considered before. It’s a journey that led me to become an attorney at Ruane Attorneys, the most exciting step in my career thus far.
Outside of the office, I enjoy working on a range of creative projects that include learning to sew, writing short stories, and video editing. I love hiking, trying new recipes, and laid-back video games. Most of all, I love snuggling up with my two cats at the end of the day.