Make way for duck[ling]s!

Do you ever just want to have it all settled, all arranged, all figured out?

I don’t think I even have to ask. Even the most spontaneous among us work within a framework of structural security. They may not know what they’ll do for fun tomorrow, but most probably assume that they’ll wake up in the same bed next month. In fact, even in these volatile economic times, I’ll bet that many people imagine their life a year from now and picture it as substantially similar to the life they have now.

I wish I had that luxury.

Right now, it seems like almost every major aspect of my life is up in the air, hanging in limbo until the crucial pieces can fall into place. The month of April is only a week away, yet I still have no idea what I’ll be doing for a summer job. Because summer jobs in the legal profession turn into post-graduation offers, there is a lot riding on what happens in the next few months: no summer job means one offer instead of two at graduation, which means very little choice in the matter, which means… you get the point.

Starting a second job search in a different legal sector would probably be the smartest thing to do at this point, but I’m afraid to accept something less appealing while I’m still waiting for my first choice to come through. I would really kick myself if that happened, yet at the same time I’m already kicking myself every day as I watch the clock tick down on other as-yet-unknown opportunities.

Because I don’t know where I’ll be working this summer, I also don’t know where I’ll be living, which means I can’t search for apartments or make any other plans for summer accommodation. I’m afraid that if I wait too long, it will be too late, but besides the obvious absence of a known location, I can’t even know what my price range would be because I don’t know how much (or even if) I’ll be getting paid! This makes it somewhat difficult to conduct any sort of meaningful search now…

And the lack of any compensation information also makes it impossible to move forward with any of the financial aid information the university is asking me to fill out for next year, not to mention the grant applications I really should fill out for this summer in case I won’t be getting paid. Of course, to fill out any of those applications, I need to be able to tell the relevant institution what I’ll be doing this summer, which brings us back to the lack of a summer job.

Talk about your proverbial cycle of doom!

I tend to be an optimistic fellow, though, so I’m really doing my best not to let this get the better of me. I have had some great news recently regarding a tutoring position at the university college, which will allow me to live rent-free for the next four semesters, and this has definitely shifted the balance substantially. But security during law school years does nothing for this summer or for post-graduation, so the job factor continues to weigh heavily on my mind.

In fact, I think I’ve fallen into the trap of fixating on this job as the situation that must be resolved before I can move forward with my life, and this is perhaps not the healthiest approach.

I think to myself: If I could just get this job lined up, then I’ll know where I’ll be living this summer, and can find an apartment, and stop worrying about all of those grant applications piling up in my inbox, and complete my financial aid application for next year, and take care of my credit card bills, and finally have something to add to my legal résumé, and have at least one solid job offer for after graduation, and move forward with personal plans, and have an answer for people’s constant questions, and stop feeling like I’m a failure, and sleep better at night…

Yet somehow, even though some of these may be true, I’m pretty sure that finding a summer job will not be the panacea I’m expecting it to be now. I might know where I’ll be living this summer and find an apartment and sort out my financial issues and be able to work my way towards a respectable legal profile, but this does not mean that all the world will suddenly line up and fall into place.

We like to have our ducks in a row, and we often make the mistake of thinking that one duck in particular will make the rest shape up and step into line. It takes the form of thinking, I have all these problems right now, but if I can just get this one thing settled, everything else will be alright.

In at least two ways, this is just not true.

First, we will never not find something to worry about if we look hard enough. No matter how happy we may be with the outcome of a situation that has been awaiting resolution for so long, this only means that the problem blocking our view has moved out of the way to reveal another issue looming on the horizon. We shouldn’t be surprised or dismayed when we find that the “one great solution” we had in mind turns out to be only a temporary fix.

Second, circumstances account for only so much of our worries. If we have doubts and fears about the future, we may be able to blame the lack of a job for now, but when that situation is resolved, there will be (as I mentioned above) another situation ready and waiting to take the blame for any insecurities we may have.

Does this mean that we should throw up our hands in disgust and say, Well, if not this, it will be something else, so why even bother trying to achieve some peace?

No.

What it means is that we should recognize uncertain circumstances as the scapegoat for—not the cause of—our restless minds and wandering eyes, which will always be more likely to scan the horizon in search of trouble than they will be to look around the immediate area and be thankful for the here and now.

Yes, I have no idea what I’ll be doing this summer, and I hope to learn the answer to that question soon. But instead of obsessing over what seems to be the one crucial component of my future plans, I’m going to take stock of what Someone else’s plans have brought to me so far. Instead of chasing that one pernicious duck all over the face of creation, I’m going to look down and marvel at how many ducks have already lined up at my feet…

… many of which arrived there unnoticed while I worried about other things.

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