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Setting a Reasonable Standard

Maintain that high grade, work hard and do…not…fall…behind.

While tackling mental health issues is only human, there’s an expectation that law students are unflawed. When thrown into such a competitive environment, it’s only natural for us to aim high and do anything to get there.

But life is not a straight line. As individuals we will experience loss, relationship breakdowns, instability in environments we take so much comfort in. So what happens, if one day we wake up, and it’s just too hard to keep going. What happens when our mental health deteriorates, but our environment remains exactly the same?

If you’ve experienced this sort of conflict in your journey so far, you are not the only one. There have been times where I have woken up day after day feeling mentally exhausted for no apparent reason. How could I flip through endless cases and sit through hours of lectures, when I couldn’t even motivate myself to do something with my day. I didn’t know how to help myself.

Why did I even choose this degree?

Am I good enough for this?

How do people keep going?

Plaguing my mind is the toxic mindset that I could not drop my standard. After all, I’m a law student. I can’t fall behind. But if we are looking for ways to help ourselves in these times of distress, the last thing we should be doing is setting ourselves an unreasonable standard. Torturing ourselves for experiencing a difficult time is completely counter-intuitive and simply nonsensical. You are allowed to have bad days. You can get a bad grade and still be successful.

You are allowed to feel your emotions rather than tackling them down to focus on university.

Healing and improving requires patience. I’m sure you can think back to many difficult periods of your life and see that you are now here, out the other side. Time will always heal. However, it is also up to you to pay attention to yourself and your own needs. See and talk to people who you value and value you. Make time to write to yourself in a journal. Whichever way you feel comfortable, find a way to release those repressed feelings.

With most of us law students, the fear of being vulnerable is overwhelming. Acknowledging that you are going through a tough period is a daunting task, but, it is also the first step to moving forward. Remind yourself that being vulnerable is your strongest asset. If you can admit to yourself that you need help and time to recover, you are learning to understand yourself on a deeper level that will only improve how you deal with these issues in the future.

Forget beyond reasonable doubt for just a moment. A reasonable standard is the only thing you should be proving to yourself. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, struggling to press play on that lecture and completely lost in doubt, you’re not expected to just ‘snap out of it’. Behind that well put together law student is a person learning more about themselves, exploring their goals and managing the challenges of life.

So set yourself a reasonable standard. Stop running away from the problems slowing you down. Sometimes you need to heal the human beneath the law student. It may take time, but you deserve it - it’s only reasonable.

Written by Jess Jiang

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