Meaghan graduated with an LLB from SMU in 2011, and with an LLM from UC Berkeley in 2013. She has been an instructor at WeBarre and Anthem since 2015, and recently joined The Busy Woman Project as an ambassador to help create a platform for women to connect through similar experiences. She is also a Puma ambassador. Meaghan is currently in-house counsel in a Japanese bank. One interesting fact about her is that she is vegetarian.
This Letter is addressed to her 19-year-old self, starting out at SMU.
Stop overthinking, stop overdoing, stop overplanning, heck, even stop overachieving (try to at least). Stop, and yes it’s a cliché, but stop and smell the roses. Breathe, take it all in. Don’t be in a hurry to get out of school to get to Starbucks to open your laptop and start typing away. Don’t be in a hurry to get home only to swallow your food in gasps of air to get to bed early so that you can wake up and start it all again at the crack of dawn. Most of all, don’t be in a hurry to grow up and start real life.
Instead, make new friends while holding your old ones near and dear; talk to your schoolmates and professors – they have so much wisdom you can learn from; read more non-law books just because they are so much more interesting than law ones; and most of all, travel. Take every opportunity you can to get out of this little red dot, because when real life starts, your days of adventure will be limited to a number mandated by a stranger.
Also, throw out your imaginary timelines for whatever goals you think you want to reach. You won’t meet these self-imposed deadlines because I promise you, your goals will change. You’ll learn that maybe you don’t want to be just a corporate lawyer. You’ll learn that maybe private practice isn’t for you. You’ll learn that you are more independent than you thought you were. Most importantly, you will learn that you want to do something more with or without your law degree.
Of course, right now you don’t have a clue about what I’m going on about. But trust me, you will get there. The people you will meet, the experiences you will receive and the knowledge you will gain will all help you get to where you want to be. You have the tremendous fortune of being so loved and supported that all you have to do is to grab every appealing opportunity that comes at you and work hard at it.
Your stubbornness is both your strength and your weakness – know when to use it as your weapon, and know when to take a step back. It’s a process of trial and error because even 10 years later, you will still not know when you should not be stubborn.
This much is for sure though: Be stubborn about your passion. Your passion is the one thing that will keep you going when you face a roadblock, when it seems like every turn you take is a dead-end, when your loved ones have doubts about your path, when you have doubts about your path. Find solace in knowing that if all else fails, you can fall back on your passion. I won’t let you in on your future too much but that is exactly what you will do, and it will be one of the scariest and best decisions you will make. Treat it as an opportunity and, like every opportunity that came your way, work hard at it and you will gain so, so much from this period of your life.
That doesn’t mean forgetting about the law though! Remember why you started, remember how there was nothing other than law that you wanted to do and remember how you’ve never wanted a way out. Don’t let one or even two bad incidents get you down, because that’s nothing compared to the awesome moments you will experience.
For now, enjoy being a student to the fullest. You’ll figure it all out, I promise.
A slightly older Meaghan