The Allegory of the Bar Exam.

In one week’s time, I’ll have my very first go at the bar exam: the formidable test that ultimately determines whether I get to call myself an attorney or whether I’ll remain, for now, The Projected Progenitor, J.D. For the past several months, I’ve committed myself to pouring over thickish outlines, flipping through flash cards, tuning in to lectures in conjunction with a very expensive commercial bar review course, working through thousands of practice questions…

I suppose I’ve done quite a lot to prepare myself for what I suspect will be two of the worst days of my life. But have I done enough to pass on the first try? Truly, I can’t be certain – but I’m certain this exam is famous for tripping up some of the brightest legal minds in the country. Many of whom, by the way, prepared for the bar exam in a metaphorical bubble, free of competing commitments like nailing down gainful employment and nurturing super important relationships. Just saying. I approach this exam like so many other masterful multitaskers: content that I’ve done enough to feel comfortable with whatever it is I do and hopeful that what I do is just enough to be meaningful.

This is not to say that it won’t absolutely suck to have to try, try again come July or that I wouldn’t be thrilled to stumble across my name on the “pass” list, either. We know this much is…well, perhaps not exactly true as much as it is extremely pervasive. Failure. Is. Not. An. Option.

But it is! That’s what bar prep’s taught me: That it’s not only possible to fail, it’s likely. It’s normal. And it’s kind of important. (I mean, any one who’s ever prepped for a competency exam will tell you that they learn the most from their mistakes, all those practice questions they got wrong the first time and perhaps the second and the third! And this makes sense.) What’s more, The Allegory of the Bar Exam can be applied to real – read “non-lawyerly” – life, too.

I’ve heard and read it said that with the announcement of big baby news comes an onslaught of unsolicited advice from Progenitor-types (and, hell, even non-Progenitors) hoping to spare new moms and dads from making mistakes. Their intentions are sincere; they only want the best for their loved ones! But sometimes the “best” isn’t the easiest or the least complicated. And sometimes it involves learning by doing and fucking the hell up.

Of course I also believe it takes a village. I recognize the wealth of resources that is my network of family and friends, and I’m certain to call on them for support. (I’d be stupidly independent not to, after all.) I simply reserve the right to learn by doing – and doing it my way. I approach prospective parenthood like I approach the bar exam: confident in my ability to figure it out – eventually.

About Projected Progenitor

Projected (adj.) (prə-ˈjekt-ed): From the 15th Century Anglo-French 'projector,' from Latin 'projectus.' Devised in the mind, predicted. Progenitor (n.) (prō-ˈje-nə-tər): Middle English, from the 14th Century Anglo-French 'progenitour,' from Latin 'progenitor,' meaning 'to beget.' An ancestor in the direct line, foreparent.
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