The Ability to Adapt Is Vital to Your Existence. Let Me Tell You Why.
The Ability to Adapt Doesn’t Always Come Natural
My eyes are my best feature. They actually change colors. Because of this fact, as a little girl, my dad used to call me “chameleon eyes.”
Sometimes my eyes are brown, other times they are blue, and still other times, green. People have told me that when I am standing in the sun, the copper-colored flecks in my eyes make them look like they are on fire. Because of my eyes, I wonder if I really do come from the clade of the chameleon.
Yeaaaah… Not so much.
In actuality, the ability to adapt to change does not come that natural to me at all. I am wound about as tight as is humanly possible. Yep…a total Type A personality. I kick and scream when someone (usually my husband) wants to do something that is not part of “the (my) plan.”
In five or less words: I suck at change.
Two Ways of Dealing With Challenging Situations and Failure
Because of my rigidity, when I am facing a challenging “situation” in life, my initial inclination is usually to swim upstream. That’s right…I choose to fight AGAINST the current instead of floating peacefully WITH the current. I have discovered that nine times out of ten, this usually translates into me fighting a losing battle.
I have lost a truckload of battles, too. Yep. I have had some major failures in my life due to swimming upstream.
My biggest failure?
Flunking the bar exam three months after I graduated from the University of Notre Dame Law School.
You might already know I got dumped the day after I took my last law school final. (For more of THAT story, see this blog post.) I was despondent for several months after it happened. I actually grieved the loss of the relationship for years.
As you can imagine, my post-breakup devastation didn’t bode well for my bar exam study efforts. I went to the review classes, but all I heard was the Charlie Brown teacher’s voice:
“Wanh, wanh, wanh,wuh-wahn, wahn.”
When I wasn’t studying, I was crying. Or sleeping. Or eating.
Relief Comes With Letting Go of Resistance (tweet this!)
I don’t have to give you all the gritty details for you to know how it all went down. The day the bar exam results came in the mail, I was not surprised at what the letter said. I had hoped every hope I would somehow pass, but when I read the words that every law school graduate fears most, I was actually relieved.
I had finally gotten confirmation of what I already knew would happen. The pressure was off…at least for a while. I could rest. And devote all of my energy to grieving. And healing.
That was really what I should have allowed myself to do for all those months I was studying…and swimming upstream.
That failure was a turning point in my life. I was so exhausted and beat down, I was too tired to resist much of anything. For the most part, I just went along with whatever came my way.
The events that followed that failure completely changed the course of my life.
When my boss found out I had flunked the bar exam, it meant the end of our professional relationship. It was ok, though. I knew in my heart of hearts that not being his employee was in my best interest.
The next day, I picked myself up and went down to the nearest temp agency to fill out an application. I was hired on the spot to fill in as a receptionist, legal secretary, and paralegal.
During my temp career, I had exactly two assignments.
Releasing Attachment Allows For Something Better (tweet!)
In the first assignment, I filled in at a bankruptcy attorney’s office for two weeks. It was boring, because he didn’t have any actual office work for me to do. That gave me too much time to think about how much miserable I was. I pretty much sat there all day staring at a blank computer screen and trying to hold back my tears.
Although I was doing my best to hide what I was feeling, I failed at that, too. There was another woman in the office who saw the pain in my eyes. She gave me one of the best books I have ever read: “Love Is Letting Go of Fear.”
My second temp assignment lasted about nine months. I worked for one of the oldest, most prestigious law firms in town. Seeing how good those lawyers were made me know what kind of attorney I wanted to be someday.
You Learn the Darndest Things in Unexpected Ways
The head honcho at the firm was older than the hills. He was a really good trial attorney, and he ran a tight ship. He yelled at pretty much everyone in the office and because of that, the whole staff freaked out each time they saw him pull up in the parking lot.
He never yelled at me, though. He liked me. HE thought I was smart.
I took the lawyer’s dictation. I worked nights. And weekends. And the day after Thanksgiving. I learned how to file things in court and how to calculate deadlines. I learned what it really meant to be a competent and dedicated attorney.
Listening to Your Soul’s Needs Gives You What You Most Want
Somewhere during all of this, the pain of my lost relationship dulled. It was replaced by a rekindled burning to become a lawyer. Finally, I was ready.
When it came time to take the next bar exam, even though I was still just a temp, my boss gave me two weeks of paid vacation to devote 100% to studying. He told me I was smart and that he believed in me. He said I would pass.
He was right.
I became a lawyer on May 20, 1996 (which also happened to be my Dad’s birthday).
All I needed was some time. And to go with the flow for awhile. And to have the first real opportunity to live up to Pop’s pet name…
Sending my wishes for a week in which you swim with the current, embrace the ability to adapt to change and give yourself all the time you need.
All my best,
P.S. The ability to adapt to change and flexibility are very important if you are going through a court battle. Being unwilling to compromise could cause you to end up in trial which means after hearing just a tiny bit about your life and your case, a judge will decide your fate. This week’s featured Hernandez Family Law blog post, discusses “Arizona Family Law and an Alternative to Trial.” In fact, there is not just one alternative to trial…there are a bunch of them. Read the post for more!