Friday morning, I thought to myself, “I wish I’d never woken up today.” I cried myself to sleep the night before, and woke up to cry some more before my class at 1. For a brief moment, a crippling darkness swallowed me whole. Every step I took felt heavy, as if it were my last. I found myself drowning in the kind of pain found only in mourning. A nothingness surrounded me. For a moment, the abyss gazed into me.
Because I did not do good enough on the LSAT… again. This time I fell harder because the night I received my score was the night before Canadian law school applications were due. I am used to failure, but this time it was different. This time I had to tell my dad, in the hospital. This time, it was a deciding factor for law school acceptance. This time, almost everyone I knew wrote it too, and will be asking me all week how it went. This time, I felt like I aced it, only to find out I let blind optimism fool me.
I’ve been telling my parents all month how my score is going to be awesome, how I’ve got law school in the bag, how I am not stressed with school or post-grad plans. A lot of my friends in fourth year have been doing the same. Why do we belittle our student hardships when our parents ask us if we are OK? I do it because I don’t want to stress them out about the unknown or the weight of my ambitions—that is my burden to bear. Having to tell my dad was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. He told me not to cry because losers cry and I am a winner. He told me to screw law school and spend my life studying Hegel. He said that all he wants to do in the world is eat and drink water right now, but he can’t; and so, I need to add some perspective to my score and evaluate whether it really is the end of the world. I know it’s silly, but a part of me thought that giving him the good news was going to help him recover faster and that’s why I let the pain swallow me whole. I let my parents down…big time. Underneath their pep talks, I sensed a subtle panic. Now what? We came all the way to Canada, for this? My mother worked night-shifts for this?
I just felt like the biggest loser.
But in this darkness, I experienced something beautiful. A text from my spirit-guide Jessica told me I should not evaluate my worth through the success/failure dichotomy. And that moment right there, put into motion a shift in consciousness. I realized that I am not a machine—whose worth is determined by its efficiency—I am a human being. What represents my worth is not the number of As on my transcript, the number of titles on my resume or the number LSAC emailed me. I let the post-grad planning process dehumanize me and lost myself in the stream of becoming; and now I’m TAKING MY HUMANITY BACK!
I explored that thought on my commute to school and something even more magical happened. As I was still in deep thought, I ran onto the subway train only to hear “this train is out of service the doors are closing, stand clear of the doors.” I ran out, JUST IN TIME. I hastily got on a path, I thought was the right one and got off at the absolute last second. The universe was telling me something. All I had to do was listen. That thought led to a life-changing REVELATION. I felt like I touched the fourth dimension – the energy in my body was definitely out of this world.
What makes humans so miserable is that we get so caught up in trying to actualize our own plans, that we forget about the universe’s plan for ourselves. And when the universe’s plan conflicts with our own, we lose ourselves in the darkness—a state some never arise from. Why did a part of me inside light up when my parents gave me their blessings to pursue a PhD in political science? Why did I experience that subway moment? Why were there so many technical difficulties when I tried to pay for my law school applications?
When we fixate ourselves on actualizing a dream, we became slaves to it. My LSAT score was the universe’s way of freeing me from this slavery. After this realization, every step I took felt weightless—almost purposeless. No longer did I stomp my heels into the ground as if I had a world to save. Only when we get everything we’ve ever wanted, and lose it can we experience true freedom. All I wanted was to figure out how to actualize my purpose, I learned that last week, and this week I realized that I just won’t be able to actualize it with my LSAT score. When the universe’s plan and our own plan collide, a beautiful space of freedom is born. We are freed from the slavery of actualizing our own ambitions. We end up in this space of the unknown—which is not necessarily devoid of purpose. In this space, we are free to just be. No longer, am I living for tomorrow. I have no idea what the rest of my life entails; this thought both terrifies and excites me. I could commit myself to Hegel, or I could go to Birmingham for law or UCL, or I could become a professor, or I could…..the paths are endless. Everything feels possible again. This isn’t a positive spin on an unfortunate situation. Darkness just loves to follow me around. But, only in darkness, can I experience moments of sheer brilliance and enlightenment. I’ve surrendered myself to the universe and am ready to try out true actuality. I misunderstood Hegel.
Actuality isn’t about setting out to externalize the goals in your head—trying to materialize your will. Actuality is that beautiful unity between essence (when the process of reflection mediates a new contradiction in your life to come to a new understanding of things) and existence (the understanding of one part as belonging to the whole, and through its interaction with other parts). Basically, actuality is the way my reflection mediated the contradiction between the universe’s plan and my plan and helped me understand the value of just “being in the world” or my place in the larger web of life. Or something like that.
I’m not saying that everything is pre-determined; of course we have agency in creating our world (after all, products of our will transcend our immediate existence). I think that the way the world unfolds is something we shouldn’t try to desperately disenchant by foolishly fixating ourselves on outcomes called “goals” to try and gain more control over our lives. We create our existence as it is meant to be created, knowingly and unknowingly. No matter how hard I try to actively pursue “the lawyer” dream, where I am meant to be will not change—nor will I come to know the future more clearly. Our will is something internal to us, something not absolutely known by us, but still in motion. It works itself out in our actions, our thoughts, our deeds. The way it is expressed is not something we have complete control over, but it still plays a huge role in shaping our reality. (still ironing out the kinks in my philosophy)
Blindly being. That is what I will be doing for the rest of my fourth year. For the first time in my life, I feel free.