Before I even begin, I apologize if this breaks your heart in ways that you didn’t imagine and I don’t understand. You see, as someone who fell head over heels in love with the world, I cannot fathom how you ever expected to stand a chance in this competition. Or why you decided to take it on, being well aware that it’s rigged from the start. You must be a real fool.

What’s worse is that you’re just as much in love with me as I am with the world, something my mind struggles to understand. One person can hardly be as interesting as the prospect of enjoying the myriad offerings of the world.

Forgive me my ruthlessness and brutal honesty. But believe me when I say that people live through far worse each day in the world and come out stronger. In fact, witnessing their hardships on my travels has made me a little indifferent to the ones that don’t match up in magnitude. It’s not fair, I know.

Your problems, my problems and our problems don’t matter as much because there is far worse to loathe and to change. And if we’re stuck here in ‘our little world,’ I’ll never be able to be part of the change that I want to see in the world. I hope you understand why I can’t live in the comfortable bubble you created for us. After all you try to help those you love, don’t you?

Maybe it’s wrong of me to be longing to go back to that time I was in a rickety bus with nothing but darkness outside and the sound of a song whose meaning I did not understand, when your eyes are gazing admiringly upon my face. But that song is stuck in my head, it always has been.

It’s funny how quickly my eyes welled up when I saw a million stars in the night sky on board a ferry sailing across a river, somewhere in Asia. Or the sheer joy and gratitude I felt on a thunderously rainy afternoon when I was rewarded with the sight of a magnificent monastery on top of a mountain at the end of a strenuous hike. The sense of humility I felt when I sat down to eat freshly picked fruit on the forest floor, the spiritual calm that engulfed me as the monks in the village temple chanted and my fascination as I walked through crumbling towns and storytelling alleys. I know I’m not even expected to feel so many emotions. You’ve always told me I’m a little ‘cold’ and I believed it too. But see what the world does to me? This love affair with the world, it’s different from what we could ever have.

It’s more serious. It’s better.

How do I find the right words to tell you, to confess that I’ve poured my heart out to new friends on the road so much more easily than I have to you in the many years I’ve known you? There are no right words to tell you that although they’re all a thousand miles away, they know me better than you do. United by a common affection for the world, it was but natural we would grow so close. I could also try by saying that it was easier to open up to them because they weren’t influenced by who I was before; they accepted me exactly as who I was at the time we met. I’m sorry that sometimes I wish it was one of them I was having a conversation with instead of you.

I may be wrong with all of this, but when you’ve seen and lived all that awakens unexplainably overwhelming emotions inside of you, there is no right or wrong anymore. I can’t blame you for picturing your whole world in one person. Even if it’s the wrong person. But please know that I’ve seen too much of the world to picture it falsely anymore. I can’t picture it in you, or just one person. It’s just so much more than that and it blows my mind like you can’t even imagine. I hope someday you can experience a love so fulfilling.

The wild flowers on the trails, the curious eyes of children in the windows, the sweet sounds of unfathomable tongues, the brightly colored market streets, the enthusiastic waves of the vendors and the aromas of street kitchens beckon to me in my dreams. Even when I’m wide awake. That is why I will always love the world a little more than I will love you. TC mark

featured image – Bill Dickinson

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So much hate.
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image - Flickr / Sophia Louise
image – Flickr / Sophia Louise

Recently, I read an article by Farrah Gray entitled “Why The Other Woman Slept With Your Man.”

Farrah’s article includes 6 reasons she slept with your man:

  • She’s selfish.
  • She has no morals.
  • She’s psycho.
  • She’s accessible.
  • She’s just that dumb.
  • She’s desperate.

This list had over 18,200 Facebook shares. I’m assuming those who shared are the ones who have been betrayed in their relationships and want proof of the other woman’s lack of worth and to demonize her. I was shocked to see a list of such amateurish quality as it had no depth to explain our human nature. Nor did it place responsibility on the male partner, with the exception of one sentence indicating his role. “The bottom line, though, is that your man cheated, and no matter what a piece of garbage the other woman is or what a moron she is, you still have to deal with the fact that you have a cheater on your hands.”

Fortunately, I came across another article, “Why Women Cheat: A Married Man Goes Undercover On Ashley Madison” by Charles J. Orlando. As noted, Charles goes undercover on the “we’re married, but let’s have an affair” website known as Ashley Madison to discover what women are really seeking in the online affair game. His findings will parallel many of the points I will explain to better understand why the other woman slept with your man.

  1. Women Want And Need Attention, Appreciation And Passion
    When there is a longer than tolerable lapse of these needs in their current relationship or in their life in general, they will seek out ways to fill the gaps. At times, these efforts will be obvious, such as creating an Ashley Madison profile, or it may be a sudden opportunity taken without much forethought.

In an article in the Huffington Post, Jennifer Garam wrote “Why I Had An Affair With A Married Man.” She describes her affair experience.

“Before meeting David, I felt dead. But suddenly, I was alive, desired, and filled with passion and vitality… Overnight I went from years of celibacy to being naked on the floor of his office in the middle of the afternoon, constantly emailing and sexting, and having late-night dirty chats on Facebook. Consumed with thoughts of him, when we weren’t together I was either lost in memories, reliving every detail of every second with him, or longing for him, trying to figure out the next time we could see each other.”

She felt alive again, and that’s a main component in the way we choose to have an affair. The thrill is too hard to avoid.

She goes further to explain, “This feels so good I don’t want to walk away. I just want to follow this feeling wherever it goes. I have such an overactive conscience I couldn’t even take a paperclip from work without being swamped with guilt, but for some reason entering into an affair with a married man didn’t faze me.”

As humans, we all have an erotic energy. The level of intensity of this energy varies just like our temperaments, both of which are innate aspects of who we are. When our erotic energy is out of sync, we will work to meet these needs even if doing so includes questionable choices with the potential for negative consequences.

You may still ask — why did she choose my man?

  1. Your Man Showed His Willingness To Step Out Of His Relationship
    Men have many of the same needs as women for attention, appreciation and passion. In addition to these needs, he wants to feel like a man — capable, sexy, wanted and valued.

If the other woman shows him that he is indeed capable, sexy, wanted and valued, then the chance of crossing relationship boundaries increases. The combination of unmet needs with available opportunities can lead to an affair. Your man is the number one reason why the other woman slept with him.

He consented.

The other women is actually not the issue because if it wasn’t her, it likely would have been someone else. Stop blaming and demonizing her, and look at what you and your partner can do to repair the relationship.

  1. Choosing A Married Man Can Be Safer Than Having A Real Relationship
    Married men can bring to the table attention, passion, time, experience, and create a bubble of erotic and emotional pleasure without the daily grind of household management, child raising and checkbook balancing.

Some women who have been in bad relationships don’t want a commitment. The woman gets the appreciation and attention they crave while knowing the man could leave at a tip of a hat. Many women are not looking to ‘steal’ your man. They are looking for a thrill, for connection, for pleasure, and if he can give it to her, she’ll take it. The chance your man will leave you for her is slim, and it is even slimmer still for that relationship to last.

Some women prefer to compartmentalize their real life from their erotic life; having an affair with a married men makes this compartmentalization easy.  They don’t want the daily drama, and they want their space. Most women enter affairs with married men believing it will be temporary, not attached and emotionally safe. Yet the biggest challenges are the emotions and attachment. An affair is such a deeply emotional thing even when unintended.  What is a human but a bipedal ball of emotion?

Despite the desires to keep the relationship on a sexual level, emotions interfere and can cause fantasies of creating a true couple relationship. The other woman and your man have to work out the boundaries of the affair.

Remember, if he chooses the other woman over you, it was his choice to leave, not the mistress’.

  1. They Are Looking For The Thrill
    Dr. Valerie Golden reports in herPsychology Today article, “Why Women Want Married Men,” that sneaking around has its thrills. The sex itself may be more lusty because it’s clandestine. Having sex in the married couple’s bed, for example, becomes a daring thrill full of lust and passion in a way not possible otherwise. The need to be secretive, sneak around undiscovered and grab quick sexual encounters on the fly can be a huge turn-on in comparison to a dinner date with a single man who calls on Wednesday night for Friday. Especially for rule-breakers, it’s just more fun being naughty and bawdy.

Some of the best sex you may have is one that includes arousal and anxiety. Since both of these experiences run down the same spinal nerve, it intensifies the feelings. Having sex with your man elicits both neurological responses.

We often want sex with people who we would never marry. Marriage material and erotic actions can at times be antithetical. Affair sex can be hot, very hot, even when we love our spouses at home. An affair can frequently be full of fun, weekend excursions, sexting, gifts, concerts, secret rendezvous and more. The thrill is intoxicating to the point where even those with strong morals or values have trouble denying their carnal desires.

  1. She Does It Just Because She Can
    Yes, there is a difference between the “just because you can doesn’t mean you should” line of thinking and the “just go for it” attitude. We make decisions everyday, some of them have little risk of consequences while others are hefty in the potential for negative effects. We can make any decision we want — I can smoke a cigarette in a restaurant, but I’m likely to have the consequence of being kicked out.

Affairs tend to have a high price-tag. However, both men and women use rationalizations that place the reward of the affair as higher than the negative consequences, as well as standing by the “what they don’t know doesn’t hurt them” adage.

Yes, sleeping with your man is selfish, but your man sleeping with her — also selfish.

The language ‘My Man’ in our language and in this blog post has the connotation of ownership. We do not own people. Your Man’ is actually a man that has chosen you as his partner.  We cannot change or control others. Even when we want to put our claws in, claim him and reaffirm his role in our life, it doesn’t mean he’s yours.  He is only himself.

She slept with him because she could, and it was the same with him. It is not uncommon for our values and behavior to misalign at times.  This does not mean the other woman is without values, morals, intelligence and worth as Farrah Gray would have you believe.  It means that balancing values and behavior can be difficult.  Our Western society reaffirms life-long monogamy with our partner, and despite having the values and morals to support it, our biological nature can put a sledge hammer on our best intentions.

As Charles J. Orlando hypothesizes, women who were looking for an extra-marital affair with married men were looking to connect in some way and to fulfill their unmet needs in the current relationship. In his adventures, he found that women had the strong need for connection, attention and just pure sex.

Ultimately, she slept with your man not because of her lack of worth or values, but because:

  • Humans have innate needs.
  • He was open to having sex with her.
  • It’s non-committal.
  • She enjoys the thrill.
  • She can. TC mark

This post originally appeared at YourTango.


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Walt Whitman wrote, “Re-examine all that you have been told, and dismiss what insults your soul.” Unfortunately for us, Whitman never left detailed instructions on exactly how to do this. And how do we really know the difference between the things that insult the soul, and the things that though difficult to practice, keep the soul firm, strong, and honest? It seems rather easy to dismiss anything that we find difficult to live by, or go through, under the guise that, “it is not meant for you.” But difficulties, uncomfortable situations, and the struggles we face do more than give us grief and great stories – they temper the soul. And they make the spirit both humble and resilient.

Yet if you observe clearly – both others and yourself – you will find that people hold on tightly to things, especially onto beliefs that certain things are meant for them. And this manifests itself in different ways. From destructive relationships, to an inflexibility in changing one’s career path or vocation, to the unwillingness to constantly reflect on one’s fundamental values, much less change them. We hold on tightly to things because it is very easy to form habits. And our habits – whether they are our thoughts, words, or actions – are not easy to break.

Think of something that you really wanted, that you thought was meant for you. Maybe it’s even something that you had, but lost; something you eventually ended up without. It hurt, didn’t it? And maybe it hurt so badly that you just couldn’t quite let it go. And holding on to it, in its own strange way, felt like you still had it. But this sensation, this obsession that we have for the things that we hold onto tightly – our grip seemingly unbreakable – rarely, if ever, keeps us from loss. We lose things all the time – “the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away,” as Job warned us in the Old Testament.

One way to be kinder to people, I think, is to remember that we have all lost something, and many have lost a great deal. Sometimes the loss is so difficult to bare, that even the illusion that whatever we wanted is still with us, is better than nothing at all. And then we go through life with a tight grip on everything that has already escaped us. The fear of letting things that we oftentimes think define us, or keep us whole, supersedes the courage that we are capable of, of choosing the unknown, and letting the familiar leave us.

But here’s what I know, and it’s probably one of the few things I actually really know: Tighter grips on the things that aren’t meant for us, close us to life. And you have to be open to life. If you’re not open, you’re going to hold onto things that will bring you unnecessary pain and suffering. If you are open, life still brings you pain, but it will be the kind of pain that is necessary to get you where you are destined to be. Even if this destiny might be drastically different from the path you’re on right now. And maybe this is where Whitman’s counsel comes in – knowing the difference between the necessity of our suffering, allows us to keep what is meaningful, and to throw away the unnecessary pains; to throw away what insults the soul.

If you don’t trust anything or anyone in life, trust that the things you leave behind allow you to make room for the unexpected. Because with enough faith, courage, hope, and love; and the awareness of every blessing we’ve been given, and feeling gratitude for every gift we’ve been granted, the unexpected paths we end up taking, often end up feeling like the place we are exactly meant to be.

In the end, our paths are rarely straight and narrow, and they were never meant to be anyway. And if all we do in each one is learn a lesson, or meet a friend, or know ourselves better, or do something kind for someone, we have done much. But first, first we must have the courage to let go of the things that are not meant for us. TC mark

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Happy Halloween </p>
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1. It’s not about hating men.

For some odd reason, the core tenet of female EQUALITY comes across as misandry. The confusion rests somewhere in feminists pointing out very clear examples of male privilege and the current state of sexism. Men get defensive and that leads to things like..

2. “Not all men!”

Stop talking. If ever a woman is speaking on something through her lens as a woman, she’s not doing it as a personal attack, but as an explanation of apprehension. The “not all men” phrase also ignores the fact that often times it’s MOST men.

3. “Women are somewhat responsible for getting into a dangerous situation like that in the first place..”

It’s been said nine billion times and it’s going to be said again here: don’t blame the victim. This sentiment has “RAPE CULTURE” written all over it. The idea being that women should understand that they may entice men into being disgusting animals just by, like, breathing.

4. What even is rape culture?

Simply put, it’s a culture which normalizes rape. It’s the culture we live in. What that means is saying you “raped” your midterm is detrimental to any girl within earshot that may be a victim (statistically likely in a college setting — 1 in 4). Sentiments that in any way suggest that a victim is at fault or ones that resemble that age old adage of “boys will be boys” are some of the core components of this culture. Boys will be boys means girls will be victims.

5. Chivalry is not your cross to bear.

If at any time holding the door open for someone who’s two steps behind you is a daunting task, please sign up at your nearest gym. You don’t get a special commendation for human decency. From what I’ve heard myself and what some of my close lady friends tell me, this is an often referenced gripe that men have when faced with the reality of sexism. “But we always have to pay for dinner!” and things like that. You sound like a big baby when you complain about things like how you have to be nice to people. Sorry. I’m sure that’s exactly like getting followed at night. You brave soldier.

6. “Only sluts are worried about sexism/feminism.”

I’ve actually heard this one and it’s so ignorant. The phrasing alone is obscene. Men often don’t fully make a shift in perspective until told to think of our mother, sister, future (or current) daughter. It started to feel eerie when I think of how, after asking, my mom told me countless stories from her life of being honked at, followed, groped, and called all kinds of things. Because believe it or not,

7. Women have an entirely different experience of life than you do.

This one took me some time to fully appreciate but it’s absolutely true. I can take a walk at just about any time of night with relatively few concerns. From what I’ve gathered there’s a constant anxiety that sort of weaves its way throughout a woman’s life. “Maybe today will be the day that some man gets carried away and decides that he’s going to have me.” This is the most critical thing to understand because once you grasp this, you start actually listening instead of judging.

8. You don’t have to be a so-called “male feminist” to support feminists.

I’ve seen a couple guys throw down the gauntlet and scream, “But I’m a male feminist!” on the Internet whenever they get called out for actually being sexist. The simple act of calling yourself a “male feminist” doesn’t help women. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of recognizing that your male point of view just isn’t needed here. The point of feminism is to be a space for women, not to prove you’re the cool sensitive guy. What you need to do is..

9. Listen.

It’s, frankly, the best thing you can do. From that point of honest listening you can actually implement changes in your daily life and perceptions. Listening means staying quiet, asking compassionate questions, and making no defensive statements. With that you can start to make wider changes in your friend group, community, school, city, and so on. Women love a good listener because they’re so used to being talked at. TC mark

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We live in a generation where hook-ups based purely upon the announcement of last call are a somewhat expected and welcomed part of our oat sewing. Often times, whether that last keg stand or that backwash of someone’s misplaced Domestic beer tipped you over the edge, that guy who earlier resembled a taller version of a hobbit or a super bro-tastic douche looks like a delicious man candy waiting to be unwrapped. Beer goggles have been getting people laid from the time things began to ferment. I’m sure we have a great deal of the population based purely on dollar pitcher nights.

The thing is, beer goggles are disappointing when you take them off in the light of day, while trying to see through a headache and past the stained Scooby Doo sheets and the science experiment growing in his bathtub. But you’re prepared for them. A certain part of you knows going into these pacts made after 1 am that any action will probably be with the lights off and John Mayer on and not a lot else matters. Usually when you go to bed drunk and no longer as single as you were four hours ago, you’re going to wake up with a different person than you thought you fell for. C’est la vie. (Insert obvious lecture about safe sex here. Seriously, it’s 2014, if he’s not going to wrap it up, it’s time to wrap up the evening.)

Lust goggles are far more dangerous than rail liquor eye crossings. You meet someone. Actually meet them, for the first time, in light of day. You bumped into each other getting coffee, he put a melon in your cart by accident at Whole Foods, you were confused as to why your car wouldn’t unlock until you saw him sitting in the passenger seat and realized that was not your Honda. Or you have a really great story that doesn’t involve meeting online even though you did, but now have devised a brilliantly elaborate fate encounter that is as far away from as possible. Like a chance meeting apple picking in remote Appalachia or at a sweat lodge meditation retreat. You may even claim not to own a computer.

You start dating. Real dates. Actual live, physical planned sharing of activities, conversations, interests, philosophical conversations and passionate making out. And sometimes calzones. And good spooning. Everyone loves a good spoon when the crevices fit well, and they always do in the goggle phase. Your bodies were made to mesh. That feeling you haven’t remembered returns, that fluttering obnoxious bubbling in your belly that shoots straight into your brain. And you have just put on lust goggles.

He becomes the funniest man in the world, let alone the room. Se is the smartest person you have ever met, Einstein and that Apple guy are nothing compared to her staggering intellect, which she uses to impress you without being a know-it-all. Because they are also humble, gentle, the most compassionate soul you have encountered in your life. Your prescription has gone from lust readers to coke-bottle proportions. You never believed in marriage, but they are such an equal partner and so respectful you could change your mind. Your kids would be adorable. You tell your mom. Your friends meet them, exhausted already of hearing of this perfect person you have somehow scooped away from the throngs of people in their obviously lacking fan club.

Take a step back. Don’t remove the lust, it’s exciting and magical, and can be the most potent of drugs. But it’s easy to get hooked too quickly. I’m an addict, and I speak from experience. Lust vision is glorious but gives you an incredibly skewed view; really, you are seeing the peripheral version of this person you have just started getting to know. They give you an inch of good material, and you allow them a mile of perfection in your head.

Slow the fuck down.

Lust goggles are especially easy to retrieve when your last relationship was, well, shitty. Either emotionally, physically abusive, or otherwise, if you are coming in to this with a wounded heart or ego you’re going to be much more willing to accessorize others with imagined perfection. Even the most balanced fall into the goggles. Most likely they would be rose colored. So, here are the guidelines:

1. They probably are really funny. Seriously, they probably make you laugh or this wouldn’t have even lifted off the second date slump. You two probably spend a considerate amount of time laughing together, especially if this is an important aspect of a relationship to you. Personally I put it up there as high as sex or bathing. It must be done. Especially if you are able to bounce off each other, that’s fantastic and sometimes rare. Keep up the ping pong game of jokes and barbs.

Glasses Off: Unless they legitimately are the most hilarious person in the world, you have met other funny people who get you and find you amusing. If they constantly joke about the same things repeatedly, or take it too far, or are putting you down in the process, or even worse, steals your material, start paying attention to their actual sense of humor. They very well may be a true comic genius, but are they trying too hard to always be ‘on’? Does everyone need to watch their show? Do they actually joke with you or at you? Laughing with each other is awesome, and so can laughing at each other. But if it starting to feel stale or vicious, that’s not amusing anymore and really they’re being a dick, or worse, boring.

2. They may be a really good cook. Some people are born with the culinary gene, others lack certain domestic tendencies. And when a person cooks for you, there are lots of things warming up in that kitchen. Like loins. A person cooking for you is ultimately one of the sexiest things that can be done because it truly shows they care and wants to show you something they can do that will impress you. And especially when you’re moving into real dating, these kinds of skills become more impressive than winning at flip cup or getting you the biggest balloon on Valentine’s day that make your friends, like, totally jealous. They’re putting in a serious effort.

Glasses Off: Cooking for someone is an extremely genuine offer. Part of the reason I fall so hard for this in particular was that it has been a rare event for me, although apparently this is what grownups do, so just because they cook for you doesn’t mean you should book tickets to Bali at the Honeymoon Suite. Yes, swoon. But pay attention. If they won’t let you help in the kitchen, or are overly occupied with minute details and making sure everything is perfect rather than enjoying the process, food, or you, these may be giving you glimpses into deeper personality traits. Sometimes what appears to be charming is actually just an issue with having control. Pay special attention if they don’t let you assist at all, or get pissed if you make a mistake. There’s always Chinese food, keep the laughter alive.

3. They probably are really smart. Brains, along with humor, are often one of those make-it-or-break-it qualifications on a dating resume. And they very well may be brilliant. They may even be an actual genius, but don’t flaunt it, which is even smarter. Smarty Pants are obnoxious, but a Smarty taking off their pants can be fantastic. You need someone you can talk to — about more things than what kind of conditioner you both use, gets them neurons and libidos firing.

Glasses Off: It’s awesome when a person is extremely passionate about what they do and amazing when they are talented and gracious. It sucks when they don’t ask you about what makes your mind work. What actually makes all the gears in that noggin need to grind is exciting and challenging. Intellectual conversations are bonding and really can be quite hot, but if it’s one-sided or you feel like you’re getting lectured, it sucks, especially if they take the time to explain something to you that you have a degree in. There are a lot of smart people in the world, who can also be funny and want to hear what you have to say. Don’t settle for feeling like a student unless you’re teaching each other.

4. That Body. Make out with my face. Physical attraction is an undeniable necessity. It isn’t shallow, it just is. And different people are attracted to different things. Some people have certain types, for some people that type is anyone willing to sleep with them. This is where goggles can get blurry, or really, condensate from the heat and fog up. New relationship bedroom activities are fun. You’re learning about each other and that makes it more passionate. It’s like having a new toy, you already know how to play with your own and you’ve seen others, but this one is shiny and perfect in your eyes. Don’t let it compensate for a lack of a meeting of the minds. They very well may be amazing in bed, or anywhere else in the house. Or in public. Or whatever you’re into. They could be the best lover you’ve ever had.

Glasses Off: Ideally, the passion never fades from a relationship. You continue to show PDA and romance one another into the age of Metamucil and dentures, which I guess could make for some really bizarre foreplay. Point being, sparks can fly but the fire has to be constantly lit by other senses, activities, and relations. A relationship can’t survive on sex alone, and it’s important to realize if you are using physical intimacy as a way of trying to cover up communication gaps or the fact that you’re running out of conversation. Or interest. Or speaking.

Lust goggles are free but can often come with a price — don’t date someone because you see what you want them to be, make sure you actually listen to them and be sure they are doing the same, because in the end it’s all about reciprocation. No one is perfect, and no one should be; that would be extraordinarily boring. Fall in lust but remember it’s not love and it is new. You’re getting a preview, and if you aren’t paying attention to the coming attractions, you could very well end up with the relationship equivalent of Gigli. It doesn’t mean either of you are bad people, but you can’t force a puzzle together if the pieces don’t fit, and idealizing the relationship is really the equivalent of a child forcing two puzzle pieces that don’t fit together because they want it to be complete. TC mark

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Welsh poet Dylan Thomas was thinking of death and old age when he wrote his famous refrain: “Do not go gentle into that good night … Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” Yet this line is applicable to many 20-something law students. Because, quite frankly, a lot of us are, well, dying.

Hear me out. We law students are all quite good at narrowing our focus — at being funneled. We are funneled into the same narrow slate of extracurriculars during high school. We are funneled into a major or two in college. And finally, we are funneled into law school. This funneling process only grows narrower as time goes on. Our goals become more uniform — some students convince themselves that they crave a prestigious clerkship purely because everyone else wants that prestigious clerkship; others fall prey to the false notion, popular on campus, that if they want to work as a judge in the future they must become a boring automaton who holds no controversial opinions and who is driven by nothing but legal ambition; and so on.

One professor likened this process to boot camp. Law school breaks you down, and then it builds you up again in the image that it sees fit. Yet if you are not careful, this process risks taking more than it gives. In my opinion, that would be a shame, and you should resist it — you should “not go gentle into that good night.”

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t approach your profession with verve and skill. We all want to be attorneys or else we wouldn’t be tackling this grueling (and expensive) three-year process. It does mean, however, that in the course of becoming an attorney, you shouldn’t lose all your other defining features. Don’t squander what makes you, you. Before coming to law school, you were probably driven by legal ambition, sure, but also by a desire to learn, a desire to love, a desire to make the world a better place, a desire to make friends, and the desire to simply be happy. As you go through law school, don’t lose these desires so that they are replaced with only one: The desire to be an excellent attorney. You are a human, not a machine. In the immortal words of Walt Whitman, you are large. You contain multitudes.

So when others pressure you to participate in this journal because “everyone” does, to apply for this extracurricular because “everyone” applies, to attempt to work at this law firm because “everyone” knows it’s the best one, remember: There are many paths to becoming a successful attorney, and not all of them involve only concerning yourself with the law. The most creative lawyers — and thus the most successful ones — are the ones who are also the most interesting human beings.

If you played guitar before, if you read fiction before, if you expressed your political opinions vigorously and often before, if you played video games before, if you loved sitting outside and drawing before, if you loved playing online chess before, whatever you loved, maintain that love. Be a person, one who would be judged interesting by all sorts of people, even those who know nothing of the legal profession.

Resist the tide. Leave law school not as an attorney, but rather as a human being who happens to be an attorney. Graduate as a more interesting person than you were when you first started your law school application. It is easy to become complacent and to follow the tide, but too much of value is lost if you surrender to law school’s various conforming pressures. If you wish to judge real people in the future, if you wish to help real people, then you must be a real person — not a mechanical legal automaton.

Do not go gentle into that good night. TC mark

featured image – How To Get Away With Murder

Thought Catalog

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