anotherlongshot (anotherlongshot) wrote,

A near-impossible choice.

I'm very frustated today with two things:

1. Work

2. Boyfriend

I'm very much surprised that I don't have to add "parents" to this list but they've been surprisingly willing to listen and to dispense advice that's actually helpful. Maybe the fact that I've finally got off my ass to look for employment, and the fact that I've not completely come up empty, helps a bit.

Let me try to elaborate as best as I can without revealing too much (since blog is quite public):

1. Work

I'm 100% leaving my present firm. I didn't have a choice in the matter, but if I did have a choice, I probably would choose to leave, too.

I know I wasn't totally thrilled when I had the chance to do substantive work. The subject matter of the work didn't appeal to me, 'cause I'm unapologetically idealistic and I don't care who I tell and I wear it like a badge of honour. The problem with the work was that it didn't speak to me in a manner that would spur me on to keep working when it's fucking 11 p.m. and all I want to do is to go home. The thing about civil litigation is that a lot of the time it involves disputes that, to me, are retarded over an issue that, to me, is retarded: money.

Of course, I'm saying this in vacuum. It's vulnerable to attacks on many fronts. However, I don't say it without qualification, and neither am I absolute in thinking this. Maybe it's a rule, and if it were a rule, there are always exceptions to the rule. I accept that there are likely to be situations in which disputes about money could actually be interesting without it conforming to my idea of what makes work interesting. I also accept that the work I deem interesting is capable of getting boring, and sometimes even undoable.

Perhaps most importantly, I accept that I haven't been entirely mature in dealing with the high demands of work. Instead of responding like an adult, I resorted to whining and kicking up a fuss and behaving like a baby (in a bad way). The thing about being too single-minded is that it makes you stubborn - and I am very stubborn. It's only when I can see for myself that I'm not doing something right or responding in an appropriate manner that I'm able to really see what it is that other people have been telling me.

And so, I'm basically saying this: I'm not sure about anything anymore. The reason I want to practice, at least for now, is because I want to give this a fair shot. Not to say I didn't give it a fair shot when I was working on the trial, but it's too true that working as a pupil and as an associate are two very different things. I want to experience what it's like to work as an associate, so that if I do decide that it's not what I want, I can do so with no regrets, no what-ifs. I know for a matter of certainty that I will not be comfortable leaving now. It's too early, and I don't even know what it is that I purport to hate about the profession. I can't know if I haven't really, truly experienced it.

But how much of it do I want to experience? If I wanted to go all the way, the whole nine yards, I'd take the big firm. But see, I want to have a life. I really, really want to have a life. I am so interested in having a life, in fact, that it's the only thing keeping me from the big firm. There's utterly nothing else standing in my way. It's offering me what I want to do and I will have an awesome friend there.

I'm not unrealistic in my expectations. I fully expect to work late when there are deadlines, and that's something (I believe) I wouldn't complain about.

But I'm just human. And I'm very spoiled. And so there's not much attraction to me in working long hours on a regular basis with little end in sight, little room to breathe, little space for reprieve.

Having said that, I've always maintained that I wouldn't mind the long hours as much if I did something I enjoyed. Before, this was easy enough to interpret: I wanted something related to people, fighting for the disenfranchised against someone in position of power. It naturally translated to criminal law (which is why people have the wrong impression when they tell me to go be a DPP. I can't fucking do that; it's against what I believe in. And I wouldn't do that, even if I get to go home at six every day), but perhaps that was only so because I was too narrow in my thinking, and because being in a big firm means you're always on the side of the banks and the rich, and hardly ever (but not never) on the side of the man on the streets.

My boss pegged me exactly right actually, when he had a talk with me a month or so back. He distilled from the electives that I took that my interest isn't really in people per se, but it's in notions of justice, of standing up for the underdog against an all-powerful state or institution. Criminal law is a natural choice because of the nature of the justice sytem here (hence, I reiterate, I could never be on the other side, or what I deem the wrong side), and I think I'd be quite prepared to take on the heartbreaks and the disillusionment, because I know I'd give it my best effort. Things that I like or am passionate about also come a lot easier to me.

But then, recent experiences and reflection have shone light on the flaws in that line of thought. Not that it's completely flawed or that I've abandoned it; I haven't, and I still stand by it. But what about rich clients who are some of the nicest people you've met who truly feel like they've been wronged, even if the suit is over money? What about the layman investor who lost lots of money in the Lehman Brothers fiasco? And like my dad just said - what about learning? Like Tris just said - what about my LL.M. application?

I had two interviews today. One was at a big firm where I would have the chance to do criminal work. One was at a small firm where I would have the chance at some semblance to work-life balance. The problem with the big firm is that I'd completely not have a life. The problem with the small firm is that they don't do any criminal work, and because my CV reflects an interest in criminal work, I got the sense that they were sensing that I wasn't a good fit for their outfit.

And in the balance is an application to Legal Service which I mailed today so there's been no response yet. I get to go home at six but the pay is rather bad, and I will be paid less than the guys. But I talked to a friend about it yesterday and I got the sense that I'd find work in the Civil Division (no way am I working in Criminal. No. Fucking. Way) more intellectually-stimulating than private practice - that is, on a daily basis. And I really like the idea of going home at six every day, even if I'd have to bring work back.

But of course, the problem with Legal Service is that it's not practice. And I still want to practice.

Why, oh why, can't there be this nice perfect situation where I can have a combination of the best parts of the big firm and the small firm? Seriously, why does this have to be so hard? I must readily admit that I really didn't expect it to be this hard to find a job that I'd happily accept.

So I'm frustrated. It seems that there's going to have to be some compromise either way and I'm just...not sure what I'd prefer to give up. See, interviewers at big firm knew from looking at my CV that I've wanted to do criminal law since forever. And it's true, even if I'm not interested in it for what it is, but what it represents and is able to allow me to do. At the same time, the long hours will absolutely kill me. But I'm not sure - genuinely not sure - if doing work that interests me would make up for it. I am hoping that it would, obviously, but I'm afriad of taking it on and finding out that it doesn't actually make a difference.

I don't know. I'm confused. Very, very confused. I know that I'd be damn good at what I do if I really enjoy it and am passionate about it, but I also know that the long hours will finish me off if I can't get used to it and can't handle it properly. And work environment matters too, so there's that as well.

And in the midst of it all...

2. Boyfriend

So, I don't even know. I just -

It's possible for me to have an actual conundrum.

I love you but I don't like you very much right now.

All this time apart, you being busy with your work, not meeting as often as I'd like (I wouldn't be so presumptuous as to use the "we" pronoun), not talking as much as I'd prefer, is causing a disconnect between us. It's not major enough to warrant a serious talk, but it's significant enough because today happened.

I wanted to tell you the things I wrote in this entry, under "work", but you weren't interested in listening to me. You think you've heard it all before. But you haven't. And I would really like to have told you first because you're that important to me.

But you think it's pointless to tell you anything. You think there's no point in me involving you in my life.

Fine. But don't pretend to have a clue as to what's going on in my head if you haven't bothered to listen. Your presumptions about my motivations are utterly insulting and seriously hurtful, not to mention thoroughly disappointing. How little credit you give me. How little faith you have in me.

And then there's this: I'm not the shallow and materialistic idiot with no conviction in her principles that you appear to think I am. I have not had a single drop of caffeine since February (unless you count iced lemon tea from Yeo's). I have stuck to my diet ever since I decided to go down the route in Secondary Two. And you have no idea what my application process has been like. You've been busy, I don't blame you, we haven't had time to talk; but don't be so quick to presume. If there's anything that I really dislike, it's being accused of lacking in principles.

How little faith. I'm aghast. This isn't what you think it is. It's so far from what you think it is. You haven't got a clue.

And I can't begin to describe how that is absolutely tearing me apart.





Tags: angst, david nalbandian, legal profession, personal, pupillage, rafael nadal, tennis, wei chuen, work

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