Preparing for the bar exam forces you to cycle through various emotions over weeks and months.
One moment calm, feeling like you’ve done all you could. Panic and anxiety the next moment. Frustration. Utter confusion. Overwhelm. Back to relief. Rinse and repeat.
Reality can betray the most reasonable of your expectations and daydreams at whim, coloring the past with regrets and the future with despair.
But it can also present us with gifts if you look carefully. Some days you have to look much harder than other days.
If life only gives you lemons, you weren’t looking out for the oranges.
Here are five philosophies you can apply right now to mentally reframe how you feel about the bar exam:
1. Kintsugi (repairing with gold)
The Japanese concept of kintsugi makes the most out of flaws—cracks repaired with gold.
The mistakes you’ve been wrestling with in your preparation are now caulking against the torrent of shit that is the bar exam.
Like a kaleidoscope, you can turn the jagged edges of the past into something meaningful to look back on.
2. Amor fati (love your fate)
It’s too late to stop it now. Time marches relentlessly. The flow of time is cruel, but it can also be forgiving.
Embrace your fate. Don’t just tolerate or accept it. Love where you are right now.
You have to do this? No, you get to do this.
3. Ominous positivity
There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Eventually, you will be in a state of being where you aren’t studying for the bar exam.
It’s too late to stop it.
Because your future is greater than your past.
A classic Lion King quote: “The past can hurt… But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.”
What are you going to do with all those ghosts of problems past that you’ve been facing during your bar prep?
5. Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud said, “One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.”
What do you think it means? To me…
- I bet the struggle also had some good parts. Not everything was so terrible, right?
- You realize that you’re far better equipped than you were even a month ago. You’re in the best shape you can be.
- Memories of bar prep will one day a distant and fond memory down the line. One day, your experience will be a source of encouragement for someone else.
- You will face even greater challenges as an attorney, making these struggles seem benign and innocent in comparison.
- The fact that you overcame the struggle and arrived at this moment makes it beautiful. You learned from it and are able to move forward.
Bonus from me
“I can’t do this. I’m not cut out for this. I’m not the ‘type’ to do well on exams.”
Do you mean “can’t” or “won’t”?
I graduated bottom 11% in law school. Some of my readers who passed the bar were way behind in points or went to an unaccredited school. You do have a say in the situation. If you can graduate law school, the bar’s got nothing on you.
Do you know the scariest thing about humans as predators? They keep following and hunting their prey until it gives up from exhaustion.
Persistence and attitude > natural ability.
The sun rises every day, consistently. So don’t get discouraged. Why?
Because you are the sun.
Which one was most helpful to you? Apply it. And then reply and let me know how you feel about the exam now.