Recitation is a common activity in law school. It may seem petty but it is a big deal for law students. And boom, I just had my worst recitation ever in law school. It feels so bad that it felt like I’ve been dumped. I felt so ashamed. Not because most of my answers are BS and fabricated, but that I felt ashamed for my professor who has been brilliantly teaching us and diligently doing his job – and there I stood, dumbfounded and failing to do my part as a student.
I had several reasons: Essentially, I got really unlucky. I have always been ready except on the very fateful day I was called to recite. I was really busy with extra-curricular activities from the past few days (including the weekend) that my brain got a little too tired to accommodate the rules on Pledge and Mortgage in Credit Transactions. I was able to read the lesson a week in advance but I forgot to review it all that I can only recall few tidbits of information. Plus I had some other personal issues which I’ve been difficultly trying to deal with and fix.
But all of my reasons are invalid and untenable and devoid of merit. So I had to learn the hard way. Nonetheless, here are the lessons (my silver lining) from the mistakes I have committed which resulted to the worst recitation I just had.
1. You can’t compensate for being prepared
Nothing beats preparation. Surprises will always come around in life. There will always be good and bad surprises. But there are surprises which we can anticipate, like being surprised by your friends at 12 midnight on your birthday or being surprised to be called for the recitation. Work on the things that you can predict or control. Be ready for them every single time. Wit or intelligence will never be enough if you’re not prepared.
2. Always make time
There are 24 hours every day. Not having enough time is simply an unacceptable reason. There are no excuses if you badly want to achieve something. If you’re running on a really busy schedule, devote at the very least a concentrated hour for your priority, which is law school in my case. I learned that it’s better to lack sleep or skip a meal or look like a zombie sometimes if you’re really serious on your priorities and goals.
3. Nemo dat quod non habet
Literally means, you cannot give what you do not have. In my case, I don’t have the correct answers – that’s why I couldn’t give them. Like love, if you don’t have that love for the person, there’s nothing you can do because there’s nothing at all you can give. The point is, whether it’s in school or relationships or career, if you really don’t have it, don’t force on pushing for it. You’re simply wasting your time and effort as well as that of others for something that’s inexistent in the first place. If you genuinely want to give something, acquire it, learn it, earn it and work your ass out on it out first.
4. Take one day at a time
Read one page at a time, accomplish one task at a time, do one thing at a time. Nowadays, multitasking is really prevalent. It has been viewed as a common and even a positive practice. But I think it’s the contrary – multitasking is counterproductive. What usually happens is you start doing several things and not accomplish anything at the end of the day. In my case, I have that tendency to start to read several subjects sometimes that I don’t finish anything at all. And of course, that’s not a good thing. This applies even to the simplest things we do throughout the day. So before you start checking your Facebook, finish eating your food first. As for me, before I study Post-Judgment Remedies of Civil Procedure, I have to finish the chapter on Pledge in Credit Transactions first so as not to repeat the BS recitation I just had.
5. Move on
Stoicism works best during these frustrating times. There is no such thing as retroactive effect in real life. After all is said and done, you can’t do anything about it. Just be stoic. So whatever it is that happened, it is what it is. You don’t always have to go through the process of denial-anger-negotiation-depression. It will only take much of your time and energy which you should be allocating on better things. Simply accept it head on and move forward. Work your best on the chances that you still have. Law school, just like life and love, is a constant test of faith, strength, perseverance and fighting spirit.
After my bad recitation, I texted some of my friends. The reply of one of them is exceptionally inspiring, “Tell yourself that it doesn’t kill you (even if it feels like it). You’ll still be a hotshot lawyer. A single recitation will not define your career.” So a note to myself: this is my last bad recitation and I will fight again.