Should You Study for the Bar Exam or Take a Break During Holidays?

Every time the holidays roll around, a pang of guilt flashes across the bar taker’s heart as they balance social obligations and the big day looming.


There are pockets of cultures surrounding work, rest, and self-care. Let’s divide them into two extreme stereotypical categories as a narrative device for me to make a point later:

1) A hustle culture addicted to work and hyperfocused on an uncertain future. Buzzword examples: 

“Work while everyone else is sleeping”
“We all have the same 24 hours in a day”
“Ugh, why are these people so happy for no reason”

2) An “anti-productivity” culture that prioritizes present comfort. Buzzword examples: 

“Mental health”
“We’re human beings, not human doings”

Where do you think you fall?

The world wants you to be vanilla.

Barbri would say to take the day off because that’s what the average student would do. Anyone who doesn’t want to be responsible for your stress or risk saying the “wrong” thing will say to “enjoy the holidays :)”

They care about the safest thing to say.

I want you to be extraordinary, not average. You have goals. You have dreams.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to lecture down to you about working hard because that kind of “motivation” decays really fast. You can’t force your brain to work harder.

The most insidious critic is yourself anyway, spinning worst-case scenarios in your head (like a lawyer would)…

They’re going to wonder why I’m studying!
They’re going to think I’m lame and not in the holiday spirit!
They’re going to be like, “Let’s go, kids. Apparently this nerd is too busy and doesn’t care about us.”

And maybe they will say passive-aggressive shit like that to guilt trip you into festivities. Muggles don’t understand what you’re going through. Don’t let anyone pull you into their pace if you have a different priority.

Remember your ultimate goal:

You’re doing this now so you can enjoy every holiday every year to come, guilt-free.

Does it matter what day today happens to be? That’s like saying you can only give gifts on designated holidays and birthdays. You can take a break whenever you want.

Don’t let a date on a calendar dictate your actions. JUST because it’s a holiday doesn’t mean you NEED to take a break. What is your top priority right now?

If you’re feeling guilty about not studying and want to make use of your free time, study! 

If you want to take a break or if family time is most important today, go enjoy the holidays!

If you want to have a lighter day than usual, go for it!

(I personally studied on Christmas.)

What’s one thing that still gets you closer to your dream and keeps the momentum going?

Sometimes we confuse self-sabotage with self-care. It’s obviously important to take care of yourself, but at the same time, you know that you have to push yourself a little, too. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about it.

This is about doing what makes sense for yourself, whatever makes you feel least guilty. That’s the ultimate self-care. This is the way to tend to your mental health and sanity. 

I can only offer a different angle at looking at things that you may not have considered.

Once again, you’re the dean of your own studies. You’re parenting yourself.

In fact, you’re the dean of your own life. My wish is for you to train yourself to trust your own legs, make independent decisions for yourself, and have agency over your life—not just for bar preparation but for everything beyond that.

Negative emotions are the most distracting to people like us who need to use mental capacities to their fullest (Mental Engines can help with that btw). That means you want to avoid guilt as much as possible, and feel good about what you’re doing for your future.

Passing the bar exam is the best gift you can give yourself.

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