The third and fourth week of uni passed without event – and without any events, not one single social activity slotted into my schedule. Despite this, I was still behind. I’d been told there was a lot of reading at law school but had assumed it was a way for those studying law to make themselves feel superior; commonly known as self-inflated posturing.
I couldn’t wait to get to law school and call them out on their exaggerated assertions. But I was wrong. Never a fan of being wrong, I was particularly annoyed this time around because it also meant I spent every waking moment reading and yet still couldn’t keep up.
It all ended suddenly at the end of Week Four with an impromptu exile from society. Nearly two years without a proper holiday, combined with the change from the 9-5 grind with scheduled weekends to no schedule and an omnipresent workload, meant I was bordering on burnout. I just hadn’t realised it.
I gifted myself one weekend of socialising before beginning my studies in earnest and it would have worked out perfectly, if I wasn’t still recovering from a hangover on Monday. I used to bounce back so quickly but alcohol was no longer my friend. Well, it was, when I was drinking it. My mortal enemy, social anxiety, scooted as fast as my bright yellow Vespa when alcohol and I got together. But the next day, my body is on par with a Brisbane City Council bus – slow, needing to stop constantly and a bit smelly (on account of not having the energy to shower or the capacity to care).
Aware that an excessive workload and lack of money would soon eat into my social life, I crammed as many catch ups into my first week as I possibly could. A lecture in the morning and another in the afternoon left a decent timeslot in the middle of the day. Perfect for a quick drink at the uni bar with a long-term friend.
We’d been through many battles together and somehow had come out the other side fighting. In hindsight, our regular debriefing sessions, aided by alcohol and high-fat food, probably had something to do with it. It wasn’t planned but we’d ended up studying law together, albeit different units at different times. Still, in the first week, with no assessment due, it was easy to coordinate our schedules.
My second day at uni was somewhat better than my first. I’d read over the study guide and had a vague idea of what the unit was about, which was a nice bonus. The only constant was the 17-year-olds’ incessant focus on the final exam. For someone with a laissez-faire attitude to life it was beyond comprehension. The only reason I was in law school to begin with was because Laura had told me when to enrol and sat down with me with me to show me which buttons to click to complete the process.
It had arrived – my final day as a full time employee. I was so busy packing up my desk, I didn’t realise I’d had an epiphany until I’d already blurted it out loud.
‘Oh no! I have to be a professional lawyer from now on. That means I won’t be able to say the F word anymore!’
I’m a bit of a swearer. As far as I’m concerned the word sh!t isn’t even a swear word, it’s common vernacular for a crappy situation. Lucky to work in an office where swearing was the norm, I hadn’t considered Life After Rampant Profanity (or LARP, as it shall be known from hereon in).
My colleague laughed.
‘True. You’ll have to use the L word from now on.’
‘The L word?’
‘Oh, good point.’
And it was. I could tell someone to f*ck off. Or I could tell them I was going to litigate. Either way, they’d be sure to leave me alone. Law school may have its perks after all.
Although I’d accepted the offer to study full time, I’d yet to inform my employer as such. Exactly one week later, resignation letter in hand, I began the trek from my desk to my boss’s office. It was less than twenty metres in total but I was sweating as though I’d run a marathon. I felt a medal, banana and cup of Gatorade were warranted upon arrival, it was the least he could do.
It all started in January; that’s when the offers arrived. Given my single status some may be inclined to think I had many a gentlemen caller come a knocking on my door. But alas, that was not the case. Seventeen years after my last rendezvous with Australian academia I had decided to return to university.