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On Being Done

I should be starting trial today. A trial that will last for almost 6 weeks. But I am not. 6 weeks ago, I called my mentor and told him that I was giving notice. My mentor wasn't even technically my boss anymore, but then again, I didn't really have any one boss. I was getting direction and assignments from 8 different people, none of whom had the bigger picture of my time or goals in mind. So, absent a "big boss," I called my mentor to tell him that it's not them, it's me.

I think that is accurate. I was always fundamentally uneasy in the role of an attorney. It never fit. I look back at my various lawyer professional headshots and, like my husband always teased, it's like I was playing the role of attorney. I tried that role on for 12 years, and yet I was always tugging at my seams. I tried new practice groups, switched firms, always trying to drum up the enthusiasm I was faking. I put my suits on, trying to feel as competent as they suggested I might be. But it was always a struggle. The first few years, I believed that was that it was hard for me because I was still learning how to do the job. At a certain point, I stopped feeling that way. Objectively, I knew how to do the work. I knew how to be an attorney. People wanted me to work on their cases. And still I struggled.

Maybe imposter syndrome and patriarchy figured in somewhere. How could they not? I was almost always surrounded by men. More times than I can count, I played the "not easily offended" role - and regret my complicity in not standing up more for myself and others. But though misogyny and imposter syndrome have been nearly ever-present in my professional life, they are not the cause of my departure.

I am simply finally at peace with the fact that I should not be a lawyer. I used to feel like stepping away was a failure, that my peers would look at this decision and smirk as if they knew I couldn't hack it. But, I finally feel like I spent enough time doing the job to prove to myself that I could. I just no longer have to do so. My life circumstances have lined up enough for me to step away and take time to reassess, to write, and to see what life outside of six-minute increments and Blue Book citations may hold.

So, while I should be on trial today, I am not. And it's a glorious feeling.


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