Musings of a Miser

Miserable. adj. 1. being in a pitiable state of distress or unhappiness. 2. wretchedly inadequate or meager. Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin miserabilis, wretched, pitiable, from miserari to pity, from miser.

I have had fantasies of swimming in a tower of money since I was very young.  You could say I’m a bit of a miser.

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Don’t Worry, Be Happy

When I was four years old, I made my musical debut.  My preschool put on a concert and we were singing “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” From what I’ve been told, everything was going fine and then we got to the “ooooooo” (at 0:56) and suddenly there was only one kid that you could hear above all: me! I was showing the kid with the lead how it ought to be done. smh. #facepalm Out of the mouth of babes.


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I have been haunted by this ghost of an overeager superego for years telling me that I am actually a failure.  Only in college did it start to become crippling.

I remember the first time it became a legitimate problem. I had failed to turn in an assignment on time in a journalism class — I don’t really remember the reason — and so I decided that I deserved to be found out for the lazy, loafing, good for nothing, failure that I truly was and that I should be punished. Since the paper was already late, I decided that I did not deserve the redemption of an extension of the deadline. I decided not to turn in the paper and to stop going to class. I decided that I deserved to fail.

And then I did.

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Finding My Way in Law

Photo by Chris Devaraj licensed under CC BY 2.0

Photo by Chris Devaraj licensed under CC BY 2.0

Let me paint a picture for you.  There is a woman in a wheat field wearing a colorful dress that swings and flows about her as she spins with her arms stretched up to heaven.  When this woman walks into a room, it is like a breath of fresh air has arrived. She brings compassion, love, life, vibrancy and passion.

That is my suppressed ideal.  My imaginary self-concept.

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Guilt, Shame, Self-Compassion and Gratitude

“There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want, and after that to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second.” – Logan Pearsall Smith

Over the years, I have been very fortunate. I have won scholarships, gotten into prestigious schools and gotten great job offers. With all of this you might think that I’m super happy and joyful and always out celebrating.

Instead, I have spent (wasted??) countless hours of my life in my head agonizing over what to do next. Should I take a new opportunity? Should I celebrate my success? Should go to this law school or that? What about all of the people who don’t get this opportunity or who are stuck or didn’t even get in anywhere? I have been crippled with guilt. Or, at least I thought it was guilt.

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Mastering the Fine Art of Letting Go

I’m starting to realize that a lot of my anxiety about what to do next with my life is rooted in the fear of being outside of the “circle.” I seem to have an intense fear that I won’t be able to get another law firm job or work in BIGlaw and that keeps me here. Couple that with the sunk costs fallacy, which I’ve mentioned before, and it seems I’m sunk.

Think about that for a moment.

I am afraid to leave a job that is a bad fit because I am afraid that I won’t be able to obtain another such job in the future. Say what now?!

I guess this is classic “Feeling” over “Thinking” at work. Fortunately, over the years I have learned to speak to myself in words I can understand, e.g., “Hey, think about how you’re depriving the person who would actually be a good fit from getting this opportunity.” (See guilt I get more clearly than reason.)

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Getting (No)Things Done

This girl gets it... "Creative Commons Getting Things Done!" by Sunfox is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

This girl gets it…
Creative Commons Getting Things Done!” by Sunny Ripert is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

I often read books and blogs on productivity. You could say that I’m obsessed.

This obsession started around the time I got to law school. By the middle of the first semester, I had completely lost my motivation in life, my raison d’etre. I found it devastating. I didn’t know who I was.

Who was this unproductive person inhabiting my body? When had I become completely disengaged?

As I imagine many of us do, I started looking outside of myself for answers to the question of how to make something of myself — how to GTD. I started trying to find that perfect technique or system that would help me to “grow up” and get things done.
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Do What You Love?

A common refrain among INFJs, HSPs and Gen Y’rs generally is this idea of seeking out meaningful, fulfilling work. What do these words even mean?

Meaningful. adj. 1. having meaning. 2. having a serious, important or useful quality or purpose.

Fulfilling. adj. 1. making someone satisfied or happy because of fully developing their character or abilities.

I fall into all three buckets (INFJ, HSP, Gen Y) and I am constantly on some kind of quest for “right.” The right job, place to live or way to be. Still, regardless of the doubts I have about my career — even those based in value judgments — I often feel compelled to grin and bear it because of intense guilt. I am privileged to live the life I lead and I don’t want to take that for granted.

So of course it didn’t help at all when I came across this Slate article yesterday by Miya Tokumitsu. “There’s little doubt that ‘do what you love’ (DWYL) is now the unofficial work mantra for our time,” Tokumitsu says. “The problem with DWYL, however, is that it leads not to salvation but to the devaluation of actual work—and more importantly, the dehumanization of the vast majority of laborers.” Every so often, even I forget to take a look at the big picture. This article was a painful reminder. Continue reading

Are You Thriving?

Thrive. intr.v. 1. to make steady progress; prosper. 2. to grow vigorously; flourish.

Just the sound of this word always excites me, breathes new life into me. It sounds and feels like some higher level of living than I am used to. Greater than just getting by.

"Creative Commons Thrive" by St0rmz

Creative Commons Thrive” by St0rmz is licensed under CC B.Y. 2.0

A ways back, I went to visit with a law school friend who I don’t think has spent all of a day practicing law.  Instead she has been doing things that are interesting and creative.  I have always been fond of her because she has such a beautiful soul.  There’s no better way to describe her.  She exudes peace and beauty and I love being around her.

We were drinking her fancy loose leaf tea that she’d brought back from her world travels, talking about my then new job as an attorney when she posed the question: “Are you thriving?”  I sort of looked at her blankly and took a sip, furrowed my brow and mumbled something along the lines of, “Well, I mean, I dunno. Who is? I’m doing the best I’ve ever done, I guess?”

I really was doing the best I’d ever done.  I had a coveted job, I was making good money, I’d passed the bar and I wasn’t depressed.  Things were really looking up for me.  I guess was doing great!  But, I really didn’t know what she meant by “thriving.”  And I didn’t feel like I was thriving.  The question continued to bother me for the next year. Continue reading

2013 Book Challenge Results!!

It should come as no surprise that one of my favorite things in life is to read.  I absolutely love it.  Getting engrossed in a book fills me with such joy and calm.  It is like nothing else in my life.  As a child, I pretended to go to bed at night, but actually had a flashlight and a book under the covers.  I would stay up all night reading Nancy DrewBaby-sitter’s Club or, later, Fear Street.  My favorite childhood book was Matilda.

At some point in law school I noticed that I had completely stopped reading anything that wasn’t law related.  So each summer while I interned, I would pick up a few books to get through.  For 2013, I decided that I would set a reading goal for myself of two books a month.  I managed to read 22.  Here they are:

20 of the 22 books I read in 2013.

20 of the 22 books I read in 2013.

The other two books!

The other two books!

My favorites are Daring Greatly, Quiet, Shogun and Me Talk Pretty One Day.  Say what you will about a book like The Tao of Dating, but I did manage to snag me a wonderful boyfriend last summer using a lot of things that I learned in this book about embracing your inner goddess (cringe-worthy, but effective) so I think that man (Dr. Ali Binazir) might know what he’s talking about.  I plan to write book reviews here over time.  My book reviews are more likely to be about feelings generated from the book rather than analytical close readings — although that may emerge at times.

My goal for 2014 is also 24 books.  This year, I’m competing with my brother.  I’m currently working through Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person and The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English, Dictionary. Who knows? Maybe this year I will beat the goal!