Kelsey Gitlin is an LLS student blogger.

Graduation. I wish I could say it was an easy word; a manageable word. But personally, I’m struggling with it more than I thought I would. One part of me is excited.

That part of me is proud that I made it through law school; that I made it through law school in the strangest of times. Glad for the chance to have met some of the smartest people I know and make some new friends. Thankful for the opportunity to even go to law school. Eager to see what life holds for me outside academia. Thrilled to not have homework anymore.

The other part of me is mourning.

Grieving the friendships, experiences, and little moments that I lost out on due to the pandemic. Yearning for the spontaneous lunch dates and “hellos” on campus that won’t happen anymore. Devastated the free lunches are running out. No one ever deluded me with the idea that law school would be easy, but, man, no one ever told me it was going to be this hard.

And what’s worse, no one told me that the hardest part of law school is leaving. I’ve spent 23 years of my life in school and now there is no more school. Graduation feels somewhat like a joyous thrust into the shark infested waters of Bar study then practice. Loyola is safe and kind. Real life is not as generous. So, while I’m met with pride for my accomplishments, I’m also met with doubt.

My safety nets are fraying away with each step I take toward the moment they announce my name from the podium. I have to start making choices – in some cases, I’ve already had to – that will chart the course of my life.

There is no more “path” to follow. Like many of my classmates, I do not have a post-bar position lined up yet but perhaps that just means there is an uncharted adventure for me to seek beyond the parking structure at 919 Albany.

For those of you who followed along with me this year, or any past years, I hope you got to see that law school can be joyous as well as arduous. I hope you got to see that if I can do it, so can you. I came to law school with no plans, no experience, and no lawyers in my family; just the delusional belief I could handle it. And it wasn’t always graceful but perfection doesn’t leave much room for character growth.

Law school in itself was a new beginning after a monumental chapter of my life. So, though I’m not a fan of change, law school has taught me how to handle it. I strangely thought this day would never come, but I won’t “see you in the next one.”

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