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I see you, 1L: Time to reflect on your well-being

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Mental Health Day 2019

You’re on the path to join a profession in which you will spend most of your life advocating for others. But if you hope to be an effective advocate for others, you must first learn to be an advocate for yourself. 

Today, on Law School Mental Health Day, give yourself permission to consider what that means.  (And if you think you don’t have time, consider that thought a red or yellow flag signaling negative treatment.) 

Six or seven weeks ago at orientation, you heard about self-care, health, and well-being.  People involved in your legal education advised you to take steps every day to stay physically and mentally healthy: “Sleep.  Don’t skip meals.  Stay connected with your support network.  Exercise.  Don’t give up the activities that bring you joy.” 

Did you imagine then that you might have trouble taking care of yourself; that you might experience debilitating moments of self-doubt or isolation; or that you’d be reluctant to admit these feelings to yourself or anyone else?  Perhaps not.

At orientation, you also heard: “Use the support available at the law school and the university.  Get the help you need.” 

Don’t have time?  In fact, you have time to do anything that you make time for.  And how you spend each moment of your time turns into how you live your life.

Take five minutes to reflect on your well-being.  These lines may be of service.

I see you, One L

Orientation.
Eager.  Nervous. Grateful. 
Humbled.  Brave.  Worthy. 
Breathe.  Make space for your delights.
Run. Paint. Sing.
Paddle on a board. 
And you can be happy in law school. 
Happy, healthy, safe.
Well-being: an intention.

Stress.
Resistance: human being or human doing?
Humbled or humiliated? 
Success: one-size-fits-all. One path.  
Profession in crisis.  Values.
Values what?
Who do you miss?  What do you miss?
Empty of emotions—
Is there ground under your feet?

Changes.
A sister gives birth.  A cousin gets married.
Parents separate.  Grandmother is ill.
Time is money?  Time is your life. 
No time.

Space.
Between stimulus and response.
Flow.  Get in the zone.  Zoom out.
Zebras don’t get ulcers.  You heard?
Listen, One L, listen.
Your body, your mind.
Your heart.

Personal statement.
What was it you wrote?
You are a person.
You have a name, a purpose.
You are worthy.

Lean.
On me.  On you.
An oxygen mask—put it on.
A feeling—let it out.
A half-smile.  Try it.
No one deserves your kindness more than you.
Search the whole world over—you could.

Stillness.
Stand on solid ground.
And you are safe, healthy, happy-ish.
For now.
Well-being: an intention to renew.
And again.

Rosario Lozada Rosario Lozada serves on the AALS Section on Balance in Legal Education and teaches at FIU College of Law in Miami, Florida. Before going into academia, Lozada served as a federal judicial clerk, a Skadden Public Interest Law Fellow, and university in-house counsel.