She hated being a lawyer. When she was younger, and she thought about being an attorney, her mental image was largely influenced by pop culture. Movies, books, and tv shows where women in pencil skirts, high heels, and clipped back buns did important work in well-lit offices with large windows.
During college, as she interned, she met the gritty world of non profit work, with casual clothes, unreliable clients, and grubby offices. She worked for solo practitioners with unlimited Starbucks and a paralegal that ran the show.
During law school, after trying and failing to get a big firm job, including an experience during a meet-and-greet interview process where a main partner openly and enthusiastically supported religion-based genocide, she decided public interest law would be her path. She did internships and externships, tried her best to network, despite the fact that her one and true consistent characteristic is being awkward. She eventually worked for the federal government, could still pride herself on not being a big law slave, with a decent salary and boring, but consistent, work.
Boredom, ambition, and love, eventually moved her across the country where she worked at a small firm for a boss that would eventually turn paranoid, cruel, and self-destructive. She switched firms, landing at a job where the work was not very hard, the hours were not very demanding, and the office stocked sub-par snacks.
Even there, something bugged her. She was fine, good, even, but never great. She knew she was smarter than the coworkers that could retain and recite relevant cites, could remember case names and read industry updates with enthusiasm and were able to apply it to their work. She couldn’t get her self to care. Her boss infuriated her with his casual criticism. She started to doubt whether she would ever enjoy being a lawyer. She had paid off her loans, but felt like she couldn’t leave because what would she do? What is PR? Can she do PR? What do people at law schools do? She went on networking coffee dates and sent out applications. Other firms? Could she do in-house? Did she have any skills? She reevaluated every career move she’s ever made. Every decision she made, every opportunity she turned down, was a chance that she should’ve taken. She considered contacting professional connections from her past to ask if she could now accept that job she turned down three years ago. But why? Did she even want that job, actually, or was it just a different and she hoped would cure her boredom?
She did interviews, even received a job offer but panicked. It was less money, a lot less money. She was by no means raking it in, but she needed to finance her life, and felt irresponsible and self-indulgent considering taking such a large pay cut.
So, she continued. She continued doing a little more than the bare minimum. She received commendation for her output, even if her boss would still not let go of his control over her work. Was she really that bad that she needed to be micro-managed, or was it his personal issue? She couldn’t tell anymore, and fluctuated between feeling like a failure and flicking off the computer screen while rage eating 100 calorie packs of chips ahoy.
She dreamed of the jobs everyone dreams about. Watching movies and writing reviews? she would be amazing at that. She could take photographs of food for magazines. She could run a dog’s instagram account. She could run and operate a successful bakery.
So, she phoned it in. She wore the same work clothes she bought for her government job, years ago, no longer caring to live up to the pop culture USA Network lawyer aesthetic. She sent pseudo enthusiastic emails, peppering her apathy with exclamation points and sucking up to the big boss just enough that her boss would feel pressured to tolerate her. She still raged at emails and comments and concocted lengthy monologues that would make him realize how silly he was and how he needs to cut the leash and let her live, already. She became efficient, but still made some mistakes. Mistakes are normal, right? It’s normal to make mistakes? Ugh, whatever.
Her coworker interviewed at other firms, she didn’t even feel jealous. She long ago stopped idealizing the big firms. She would love that paycheck, if only to bank it and be able to quit working as soon as possible. But she would never tolerate the lack of personal time. She also suspected she just didn’t care enough to do a bang up job helping some company acquire some property or implement a terrific new employment contract.
Maybe some job posting will come along and it’ll be perfect. Will she see it? She barely glances at the emails she receives with job postings every day. Would she want it? Does she want to have yet another job doing the same exact thing? She’s gotten into a pretty cushy situation here, what if the new job sucked in every aspect?
Maybe something will change. Maybe some inspiration will strike. Maybe an opportunity will somehow represent itself. She’ll figure it out. She doesn’t have faith in much, but she hopes this is true, because the alternative is pretty bleak.