N and I met up for lunch today. The outdoor seating with the Mississippi River as the backdrop approached perfection, but we somehow ended up in a waiter dead zone, providing us with an almost awkward amount of time to converse. N was one year behind me in law school, and it wasn't until my very last semester that I finally met him, getting thrown into an Energy Law group with him and another student. N's life-puzzle is shaping up quite nicely right now. He graduated two weeks ago, is currently clerking for a law firm, and has an associate position waiting for him in the same firm once he passes the bar exam this summer.
For the most part, I take pleasure in others' successes, and my feelings are no different when I heard of N's good fortune. Still, it puts me in a contemplative mood. So far, nobody has offered me a job within the legal sector, which isn't exactly a confidence-booster. And while I thoroughly enjoy what I'm doing right now, until I secure that first legal position, I might retain these feelings of insecurity and uncertainty, simply because I'm not absolutely certain if I'll be a great attorney, or if anybody will even give me a shot. While I don't spend every waking minute bemoaning this thought, it does pop up from time to time, especially while I'm sitting around not wearing a tie and not polishing my Wingtips.
Speaking with N, though, got me back into the right frame of mind, as he reminded me of a thought that I've had on multiple occasions. It's simple and almost obvious, but also very powerful to me. My story, my experience, and my life, is valuable. Not every employer will be blown away by it, but some will be. Those that are not impressed won't hire me, but they'd also be the types of employers that I wouldn't want to work with anyway. So in the end, it'll all work out just fine, because the world needs more than one type of person, and it sure as hell needs more than one type of attorney.
Another thing that will grab my attention, though entirely unrelated to the expressions mentioned above, is "That reminds me of a quote." When people utter that sentence, it's not usually follwed up by ignorance, but instead by a nugget that is sometimes thought provoking, sometimes unintentio-nally hilarious, and sometimes a mixture of the two. So when D took a break from haphazardly eating his after-dinner ice cream tonight at my home to say "That reminds me of a quote," I took notice. It might have just been the cookies 'n' cream-induced fog that I was in, but I was expecting the absolute best.
Like me, D had a bit of a career before he began studying law. From what I gathered, he was an accountant, a pretty successful one even. He worked for one of the "big four," which I suppose would mean more to me if I were familiar with the accounting world. Still, it sounds imposing. So what would make a guy leave a decent career with a decent company to try his hand at the law game? For D, it was a matter of happiness. Quite simply, he didn't love accounting. So at some point during our discussion of this topic, he went the that-reminds-me-of-a-quote route. Of course, like most good quotes, they are hard to remember with complete accuracy, so D paraphrased, "If you have a job you love, you'll never work a day in your life."
It makes sense. If you love something, it doesn't feel like work. Rather, it's just doing something that you love doing, that you might be doing on any given Tuesday whether or not you were paid for it. And while it may be a bit simplistic to think that everybody could drop what they are doing to pursue something that would make them infinitely more happy, it's pretty realistic to think that people could make small, slow changes that would at least point them in the direction of that happiness. Moving from point A to point Z overnight is not only daunting, but highly unlikely, especially with limited resources. But slowly progressing from A . . . to A-and-a-half . . . to B . . . to C . . . is a lot more possible. It's within reach for most people.
Perhaps even better, though, is that happiness isn't a zero-sum game. I can be happy without negatively affecting my neighbor's ability to be happy. My neighbor can be happy without negatively affecting her brother's chances at happiness, and on and on. In the end, the entire world really can be happy, if we'd only allow it. That's a really great thing, but it's also a huge responsibility.