Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Simple Question, Complex Answer

You went to law school. And you're not a lawyer?



Well, kids, now time for the fun part of the story.

I'll start off by stating the obvious: I didn't go into law school thinking that, at the end of it, I'd be left wanting to do something else. I was positive that this would result in me practicing, and enjoying myself while doing it. I had such a wonderful experience learning about law, going through the mechanics of it...it all had an aura.

Of course, that's not how it really works.

Law, when you really boil it down, is nothing more than a set of very simple items that have been overcomplicated for the simple fact that you can charge more for technobabble than you can for simple words. The Philadelphia Lawyer has written pretty extensively on the topic, and he and I have been back and forth on Twitter more than a few times. Law need not be so complicated, nor an expensive venture. But it is, for the sake of the Almighty Dollar.

Couple that with my actual experience in the legal world (as I manage to get a guy guilty as sin off for murder based simply on a pre-trial motion to exclude testimony), and you come to a very sad realization:

Our justice system is not about fairness, or equality, but simply: who made the best argument. And often times, this will only mean: whoever was lucky enough to hire the better lawyer comes out on top.

That's not fairness. That's not helping people. That, instead, is high crime across the board.

In other words: it made me physically sick to do that. I mean, not just the "oh, I hated it" bit. No, I mean full bore attacks of nausea, nightmares, anxiety attacks, the whole shebang. My left eye didn't stop twitching for a month. Yet here I was, attempting to struggle through, because I had invested so much money into this venture, until I came to a rational conclusion:

If I am making myself sick doing this, why the hell are you doing it?

Was it what I loved? No.
Was it what I wanted? No.
Was I helping people the way I wanted? No.
Did I have viable career alternatives? Yes.
Then what the hell is stopping you?

Fear. The knowledge that you must jump and take the plunge that so few talk about, but so many dream of. I can't honestly say that I would be so willing to get out of law had I, say, not made this discovery a year into the field after making 65-70K in that first year. But because I never had it, I don't need to chase it.

Instead, I've made phenomenal discoveries about myself: I'm not a Monday through Friday, punch the same hours kind of guy. I like to work random hours. I've had amazing experiences, talking with thousands of people as I've fit people for shoes. Hell, I've been fitting people for shoes over the Internet now. (And receiving Trappist ale in the process. Thanks again, David!)

If it weren't for what I do, I wouldn't have met folks like Ton with Sports Bistro. I wouldn't know great coaches like Kurt (PBM Coaching) and the Sustainable Athlete crew. I'm forever grateful to JR and Maggie for taking me on at Maine Running when I was supremely burnt out of the field, and giving me the sense of community within sport and city.

So, what is it I want to do when I grow up?

First and foremost, I'm going to keep working in the running/multisport field. Whether that's in retail, or on the vendor side, who knows. But I also want to coach athletes. I want to help others achieve their best. I want to help unlock other's potential, just as others have helped unlock mine. It is what I feel I can best do. At 25 going on 72, I've had a hell of a journey so far. And I want to help share mine, and hope it can lead somebody else down a path to success.

Conventional wisdom, be damned.

1 comment:

OrganicDebbie said...

Ryan your search for fulfillment and happiness is admirable. I have been doing the same. The answers are within you. You just have to conquer that fear to actually ask the questions, which you seem to be doing. I would recommend reading (if you haven't already) a book by the title of Think On These Things. It's the words of J. Krishnamurti a mystic from the 60's. Enjoy