Grace is currently a third-year student at the Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore. She runs Letters of the Law with two of her batchmates. If she had never entered law school, she would be a writer or a party planner.
This Letter is addressed to her 19-year-old self, who is just about to enter law school.
Congratulations! You have just received your acceptance letter from NUS Law. You ran down the stairs in your socks and shrieked the good news to the whole family. Your greatest achievement in this single moment is having persevered on, creating battle plans for yourself and carrying them out, even when people told you it wasn’t worth a try.
So, you now see this as the end of a long run – law school acceptance, then, your dreams. You want to be a public servant and make people’s lives better. You want to make the world better, through a combination of your interests and your skills.
But, Grace, you are going to learn that in order to achieve your dreams, you will have to roll up your sleeves and face things you don’t like, things you don’t know, and things you’re scared of. Certain law school subjects will make you want to (or actually) fall asleep at your laptop. Or you will wonder why you are doing private sector law internships, when all you want to do is go into the public service. You will wonder how this is all relevant, especially when you’re terrible at it.
Sometimes, you will get better at it. What took you days the first time will take you only a few hours after a while. But other times, it will not get any easier. Learning to ask for help when you need it will be one of the best lessons you’ll ever learn in law school.
Something else I’ve realised in the years between you and I are that sometimes, the things we dread are the necessary conduits to make us the best we can be. Burning the midnight oil “mugging” for exams may not feel like saving the world right now, but it can set the foundation for being the best world-saver you can be later on.
You’re feeling euphoric at this present moment, with the acceptance letter in your hand. Let that feeling persevere on, for four years and more. Never forget what a privilege it is, to study the law, to have all these opportunities to discover the undercurrents and underbelly of the world you wish to save.
It will be gritty. But it will be good, and I’m rooting for you.