My best friend wrapped his lanky, pre-pubescent arms around my waist and kissed my forehead. He wiped my sweat-drenched bangs from my face and said, “I love you.” I looked up at him, probably 11 inches, smiled and buried my nose in his chest. I cried a little and he squeezed me tighter. He smelled like dirty boy and old high school gym. I could have bathed in those smells forever.
It was the final moments of my sixth grade graduation party. It was the first time I resisted the end of something. It might have been the first time, for me, something ended. It is my first memory of losing something and refusing to let it go.
I cried for the first three weeks of that summer after sixth grade. Even the thought of a new school, new teachers, new friends, new schedule was devastating. I knew the real thing would be torture.
That 12 year old girl who was paralyzed by change lives deep inside of me. She occupies that space of comfort where I feel safety, security, predictability. She thrives on the flow of my routines. She likes to dwell way down in the depths of the: relationships, communities, experiences, organizations that I’m a part of. That place where it feels like nothing else could ever be as good as this.
Today, I face a new end in my life. Law school classes are over. I will likely never be a student again. And as the Facebook statuses go up, and celebrations into the works, I keep returning to an uncomfortable vacancy inside of me: I feel nothing.
As I dig deeper, I realize I’ve spent the last three years resisting the end of my non-law school life. I’ve spent three years refusing to let go of the comfort of my career working with kids. I’ve clung to it so hard I’ve almost completely missed the experience, the reality, of the last three years. I’ve been so afraid of the new(and unfamiliar) opportunities, challenges and expectations of being a lawyer I’ve refused to become one.
About a month before the end of law school I made a commitment to try it out. Be a lawyer. Take depositions. Write briefs. Wear a suit. Along with the terrible angst and anxiety that’s accompanied this commitment, is the inner knowing that to honor it, I have to accept the end of my former life.
I cried this morning thinking about it. I watched the News Story from the last day I spent at my summer camp. For the first time, I observed it as a part of my past. My neck tightened. My stomach clenched. My eyes welled up as sank into the sensation of finality. The sensation I’ve been avoiding.
I know: life is constantly changing; nothing is permanent; everything is shaped by sad ends, and beautiful beginnings with all sorts of enriching, scary, challenging, validating moments in between. But the resistance I feel is real. The fear. The uncertainty. The discomfort. The looking back and wondering, will it ever be as good as that, again?