During my first year of law school, I soon realized something very important to my sanity. I was losing it. Quickly. The constant high level of stress was wearing me thin and I wasn’t sure if I could keep going at my current rate of success. After a small mental breakdown, I decided that I needed to change something. I needed a hobby.
When you’re constantly writing 25 page papers, reading hundreds of pages a week, and briefing dozens of cases, the last thing a sane person would do is force themselves to write an extra thousand words a week. Luckily, my sanity had all but worn out and I was ready to do the impossible.
When my friends found out what I was doing, most of them thought that I was crazy
Amongst all the stress and schoolwork, I added to my work by carving out two hours out of every week to start a new hobby. I started a blog. More specifically, I started a blog where I write 1000 word short stories based on stock photos every week. (A picture is worth a thousand words, after all.) When my friends found out what I was doing, most of them thought that I was crazy. How could I possibly want to write even more?! But, what I found out was that I rapidly regained my sanity.
Forcing myself to ditch all law school thoughts for just two hours a week worked marvels on my life. My school work improved, my ever-present smile returned to my face, and I had more fun than I had in months! The stress of 1L year faded as I sat down at my computer, combed through the internet for a stock image, and wrote a short story every week.
Searching, writing, building, and maintaining the blog ended up to be more work than I had originally imagined. But, that was a blessing in disguise. The more I worked on the blog, the more I got away from law school and avoided the excess stress that didn’t help me at all.
If there is anything that somebody could take away from this, I would tell any incoming law school 1L to do several things in their life:
1. Find yourself a hobby that uses all of your mental capacity
If you don’t have a hobby that fully occupies your brain and can let you escape the rest of the world, find one. It will work wonders for your mental health and not being stressed out about law school will get you miles ahead of your peers. For me, this hobby was writing fiction. When I sit down at the keyboard, I clear my head of any distractions and focus on the next word to type out in a new story. It almost feels like meditating.
2. Find yourself a hobby that you can talk about with others
Publishing my short stories to a blog helped me share my hobby with others. This gave me something to talk about with my friends every time I showed up at the law school. It finally allowed us to talk about something that wasn’t law related (an issue that popped up in my 1L year) and gave us all a healthy mental break. This was always incredibly relieving.
3. Find yourself a hobby that is just plain fun
Whenever I stare at the blank page on my laptop and think about all the stories I can start jotting down, I get a rush of endorphins that feels fantastic. That surge of energy feels great every time and working on a product that I can watch come to life is always an amazing feeling. This writer’s high is something that I look forward to every week and is always ton of fun.
4. Find yourself a hobby that you can stick to
The most important thing in finding a new hobby is finding something that you can consistently return to. Week after week I would come back to writing a new short story. Every time I came back, I felt even better about myself. I’ve always had a problem committing to things. Writing fiction that I shared with my friends kept me honest with continuing my new hobby. When I started law school, I watched myself neglect to take the time and do things that I previously enjoyed. Keeping myself dedicated to my newfound hobby made me feel better every week and helped keep my head clear and focused.
I highly suggest the addicting drug that is writing fiction!
Writing fiction was the hobby that satisfied the above criteria and was how I stayed sane in law school. It didn’t take much to completely change my way of life in the most stressful period of my life. Just two hours a week completely revamped everything. The knots of stress in my shoulders finally relaxed, my girlfriend noticed I was much more happier, and my school work dramatically improved. All in all, life is good! If there are any law students that are currently looking to find an outlet for their stress to keep from going insane, I highly suggest the addicting drug that is writing fiction!