WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO GO THROUGH?
I used to think that success was about setting goals, taking action, staying determined, and doing whatever it takes to make it happen. This view on life and achievement, although the dominant one we often hear, has since become a cause for concern for me. It assumes that we are in full control of our lives, and that if we don’t get our desired results from our actions, we are not good at being in control of our lives.
This past Friday, I got called to the Ontario Bar, and officially became a lawyer.
The Treasurer of the Law Society who presided over the ceremony had a great speech, and the part that stood out most for me was when she said to take a moment and think about what we have been through to get to this point.
Unexpectedly, I was overcome with emotion.
I’m so grateful for the ups and downs to get to this point.
Before law school, I studied psychology at the University of Toronto and took 5 years to complete my degree because I had had health setbacks in second year. I enjoyed my undergrad as I’ve always been curious about human behaviour, and cared deeply about fairness, the environment, and human rights. The desire to go to law school came after I graduated undergrad and was doing development work in Northern India. I saw people who were extremely poor, facing all kinds of challenges; women’s rights, environmental degradation, loss of their land to government interests, and a lack of proper sanitation and access to clean water. This made me realize the power law has to impact people’s lives, and how those on the margins are often most affected. When I came back to Canada, I worked part time at a law office, took a 3 month LSAT course, and remember that several friends helped me with editing my personal statement and application.
I was so happy the day I got my admission letter to the University of British Columbia, as it was my first choice.
During law school at UBC, I lived at an amazing graduate residence (Green College) in first year, became a Residence Advisor in second year, and in my last year, helped coordinate student engagement during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and sat on the University of British Columbia steering committee. I enjoyed the courses I took in environmental law, social justice, and mediation.
After law school, I articled in Vancouver, got into yoga, and ran a half marathon. However, one month before my bar exams I was diagnosed with a brain tumour and had to take a leave from law for over a year and a half. During this time, I volunteered, developed a deeper meditation and yoga practice, and took a spiritual trip to India to different ashrams. As my luck would have it, I also happened to be in Dharamsala and got to meet the Dali Lama. Following my return from my trip to India, and after a subsequent MRI, I was told that my tumour stopped growing and became benign.
This gave me a second lease on life, and has transformed the way I lived.
This led me to go after my dreams even more, create community-building initiatives like the Dream Circle, and create space for vulnerability and deeper connection with whoever I met. I became a YMCA certified yoga teacher, got published, worked two dream jobs in community engagement with the David Suzuki Foundation, and started doing work I love as a professional speaker and facilitator. I started The Potentialists community for people to connect and support each other on their goals (www.thepotentialists.ca), spoke at over 100 events across North America, and did a TEDx talk about Dream Circles.
Since moving to Toronto from Vancouver, I had to do 6 more months of additional articling in Ontario, and spent 6 months earlier this year (having no life) to study, pass both Ontario bar exams, and finish the licensing requirements.
Looking back, I have had amazing mentors and friends along the way, people who guided me and gave me wisdom, and believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.
Crossing the stage as a newly minted lawyer on Friday was a proud moment.
It was all worth it. Not only for the importance of achieving this milestone, but because of the person I have become in the process.
All of the rejection, challenges, and pain I’ve experienced along the way along the way may have knocked me off balance, pushed me back, or thrown me off course at times. Doing great things for me is no longer about the outcome or end goal. It is about embracing the wind, allowing yourself to be brought down by it, but getting back up and running even harder into it.
Now, it’s time to do more great things as a lawyer and continue to lead a remarkable life. Bring on the wind!
What are you willing to go through?