What Successful People Say About My Post-Grad Plans

"So what are your plans?"

A month has not yet passed since my graduation from Columbia University in May, yet there is an expectation that I already have my life neatly sorted out. The ludicrousness of this assumption has been pointed out and criticized by many a college grad in my exact position. What concerns me is what comes next.

"I'm going to start studying for the LSATs."

That seems an innocuous enough response. Brief. Ambitious. Informative. How could I possibly go wrong?

A blessed few will simply say, "good for you!" and move on. The majority has a good deal more to share, most often through the use of impressive facial contortions and exhalations.

"Law school," one such person will exclaim, as though I had instead uttered "irritable bowel syndrome."

"Ugh," she will continue, grimacing and wringing out her hands. "Well, good luck with that!"

"No," another will respond, as if I had asked her opinion. "Absolutely not. It's a horrible world."

"Don't become a lawyer," is the response I get from young lawyers. "You'll have a terrible life."

"Really?" exclaim some of my more bohemian acquaintances, incredulous. "Oh. I thought you wanted to do something more...well..." They'll smile at me, condescendingly. "Never mind."

Nearly all those who express such emotional discontent over my choice to study for the law school entrance exams are successful and established people. They are overwhelmingly professors, college advisors, lawyers, or the spouses of lawyers. They are, like the professors, people who have attended graduate schools themselves. They are, like the advisors, people who are meant to advise, not to judge. They are, like the lawyers, people who have excelled in the legal field. Most of them are wealthy, or, at the very least, financially secure. They have the privilege reserved to the moneyed: that of judging the way others make money.

I, too, am privileged. I have been given every opportunity to succeed, both intellectually and otherwise. Could I, as the myriad people who have offered their opinions suggest, find another life path, one which fulfills the morally lofty expectations which they seem to hold for me? Probably. Tell one of these people you're going to law school and they recoil in horror. Tell them you plan on traveling to Cambodia to teach underprivileged children or build houses and they're smiling at you knowingly, assuring you that they knew you were "better than that." Better than what, I want to ask. Better than law school? Is going to law school equivalent to "selling out" in the eyes of these people, who have directly benefitted from law or other graduate schools and now have the ability to travel and build and teach? Do these people have more finely tuned moral compasses than the rest of us? Is that what their law degrees have bought them, the ability to criticize those who seek the same path?

Who knows if I'll actually end up going to law school. Who knows if I'll use my degree to serve the underrepresented, as I intend to. For me, the future is still a big question mark. What I do, know, however, is that I will not be judged by someone merely because he is wealthy enough to be a hypocrite.