For as long as I could remember, I wanted to be a lawyer. At least, I remember saying I wanted to be a lawyer. That declaration took me right through to my senior year in college, resolute as I was, until it came time to apply to law school. Suddenly, what had originally felt like a natural choice and next step in a pre-ordained progression of sorts felt… off. As I sat for the LSAT (Law School Admission Test) not once but twice, canceling my scores the first time because my nerves (or something deeper) got the best of me, I had a sinking feeling I was not where I was supposed to be in my life.
I took the LSAT a second time anyway, ignoring my growing dissension. Not surprising to me, I did not perform as well as my high cumulative GPA had predicted but well enough to grant me entrance the following year to the first-tier law school I attended following graduation. During the same period that I prepared for the LSAT, I also studied (though arguably not as much as I should have) for the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and sat for that test as well. My score was lackluster at best but, again, high enough to get me accepted to the two different graduate programs I had applied to at two prestigious east coast universities.
When the time finally came to choose, I felt myself standing at a crossroads, torn between what I had been programmed to believe was my destiny and what, at the time, I knew my true calling was—anything but the practice of law. I put deposits down at both the law school and graduate school of my choosing and waffled between the two for months. The choice became the subject of many heated debates as well as a battle of wills between my fiancé who did not see law school in my future and my mother and stepfather who saw my upcoming nuptials as a threat to my professional aspirations. In the end, the decision was mine to make. Choosing to honor the family tradition, I began law school that September.
Almost immediately, I was out of my comfort zone. I had betrayed my inner voice and went from being the eager student I was in college to the apathetic one I was in high school. Those who listened to my constant complaints urged me to quit. Perhaps I should have, though at the time I felt doing so meant defeat. I still remember the guy in my section who knew every case cold, exhibited innate skill as he argued esoteric points in a way I never could, and who, much to everyone’s surprise including the professors who adored him, did not return after Christmas break because he realized law school was not right for him.
He left. I stayed.
After graduation, I began working in an unrelated field, taking jobs “beneath” my education level yet still falling along the trajectory I had carefully mapped out for myself. When I finally reached my sweet spot, a third and final round of interviews for a consulting position that required weekly bi-coastal travel, a position I affectionately dubbed my dream job, I discovered I was pregnant.
One miscarriage later, the subsequent birth of three children in under five years, and a three-year tour living overseas in furtherance of my then husband’s career goals, I found myself suddenly single at 39 without an established career to fall back on. Again, law school reared its head as everyone, including my divorce lawyer, saw my entrance to the field an obvious one. Not for me, though I did briefly entertain the prospect, albeit reluctantly, until accepting once and for all my talents and passion lay elsewhere. Turns out, I was right. Today I am a professional writer and business owner.
Being away from the workplace for an extended time like I had been was precisely the excuse I needed to begin doing what I loved and love what I was doing. With careful thought, research, the right tools, and a positive attitude, the career I had always dreamt of was finally within my reach. I admit, taking that first step was scary because, like so many people, I feared the unknown. But in the wise words of Abraham Lincoln, “[t]he best way to predict the future is to create it,” something I now do every single day.
A version of this article originally appeared on HuffPost.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]
Stacey Freeman is a writer, lifestyle editor at Worthy.com, and the founder of Write On Track, LLC. Her writing has been published or syndicated in The Washington Post, Forbes, Entrepreneur, MarketWatch, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Woman’s Day, Town & Country, Yahoo!, HuffPost, Popsugar, SheKnows and other well-known platforms worldwide. Stacey is frequently called upon for her expertise and insights and has been quoted in The New York Times, HuffPost, and SheKnows, to name a few. Oh, and she’s a single mom of three amazing kids. For more information about Stacey, visit www.writeontrackllc.com.