I relish this time of year. It is one of the only periods when I, as a law student, can truly relinquish control and just sit back. After slogging through an intensive exam season, I can’t do anything more about fall term grades until January. So why not just enjoy the holidays and let go of the worry?
Some people hate this period; they’d just rather know their marks now and get on with it. I’ve heard some of my classmates say they can’t relax because of this feeling of anxious anticipation.
But I say (and try to) cruise for a couple of weeks. As law students, we spend so much time studying, strategizing, planning, and calculating our academic life in order to have a full professional life. There is never a moment when we aren’t striving to know everything — cases, grades, our future.
In a sense, we need to be forced to stop and not know in order to truly take a break. In my opinion, December is the perfect time. It’s like the giant pause button in law school life.
Of course, the holidays are full of a different kind of busy: family events, holiday shopping, that mountain of chores to be done after exam hibernation. But I find even a change of busyness is a break in itself. And all of those things can be done without the casebook guilt: that list of cases left to read which often looms over your head as you try to take a break. Now I can attend the family holiday party or have brunch with friends and just be there, be present.
If my mind does slip back to grades and school, it’s somewhat of a relief. If I feel good about an exam, I can ride the wave of confidence for a while before I learn if the curve actually worked in my favour. On the other hand, if I don’t feel good about how I performed, I am uplifted by the thought of a fresh start in the new semester.
I think the best kind of winter vacation for a law student would be one that involved a clean break from the day-to-day routine; a trip south, a cabin up north, or just a few days nestled in your house with a stack of movies and no responsibilities. Whatever it may be, I think we need to indulge a bit and I think it’s safe to say we deserve it.
That would be part one of the ideal law student vacation. Part two would involve some time dedicated to reconnecting with people you’ve given the cold shoulder to over the past six weeks. It’s the necessary transition from law machine to human being again. I think it’s also important for the people we love not to feel forgotten. Being a friend, partner, or family member of a law student can take its toll as well.
Really, no matter how we spend the December break, it is a unique opportunity to relax. Law school doesn’t often serve up periods of downtime. Summers, while not spent in a classroom (for most people), are full of a different kind of challenge and learning curve. For many, summertime is not really a break, but December can be.
I typically don’t like this phrase, but in this case I say it with sincerity: ignorance is bliss. We won’t know how all of that work paid off until January, so why not bask in the mystery of it all and have another glass of wine?
I’m going into “off” mode for a while and I hope you get to as well. Have a very happy holiday and a wonderful new year!