Apparently there is a myth out in the world that people at Harvard Law School are eternally happy. This myth must have been started by the hordes of law students who do not make the cut each year, and stand on the outside yearning to be in our position. After all, life must be perfect for those of us who are so privileged as to attend such a prestigious and honorable institution. All the doors are opened to us, success is practically guaranteed. What more can a person ever ask for?
In response to those people, I suggest that there is one thing that the students of Harvard Law School desire to the same extent as those who don’t make it through the admissions process. That thing is to be happy. I am not at all suggesting that we spend all our days here wallowing in misery. I am also not suggesting that the Law School is a particularly miserable place to be. On the contrary, I am extremely happy with my choice of schools and really could not ask for anything more out of the experience. What I do know from my own experiences and from those of my fellow students is that the one thing that Harvard Law School can not guarantee us is happiness.
Contrary to popular belief, we all have our fears and doubts. We all have our high points and our successes, and we all have our failures. We all have personal problems and issues that keep us awake at night. We don’t walk around all day surrounded by an aura of self-satisfaction and excessive confidence. We all have out bad days, our bad weeks, and occasionally our bad months.
The things that we long for here at Harvard Law School are for the most part the same things we wanted before we came here, and the same things that every other person on this planet hungers for. We all want to be successful, accomplished, well-liked, and most of all happy. We all want to pursue meaningful and satisfying relationships. Some of us want to have families; some of us want fame and fortune. We all get nervous and worry about the future. We all find ourselves making mistakes and struggling to undo the damage our mistakes have caused.
Why then do people sometimes think that as Harvard students we lost our right to complain when we arrived on Massachusetts Avenue that fateful August day? How many times have we been told by friends, family and even our spouses, “you don’t know how lucky you are, what are you whining about”? Yet we still feel down on occasion. We still worry, and we still wish we were happier.
I am sorry if I am disappointing any students planning on coming here next year, but just being here will not solve all of your problems. If you are not a happy and well-balanced individual, you will not turn into a success story solely as a result of your admission here. No matter what anyone tells you, at the end of the day your happiness will be determined solely by your own actions and not by the school you attend. We here at Harvard are, on occasion, unhappy. This is a right that we reserve for ourselves as human beings engaged in a timeless struggle for perfection. This is a right I will not let anyone take away from me just because I attend Harvard Law School.
There is an ancient parable which states that if each person in the world would put his or her problems into a bag and place it in the middle of a circle, and then each person could come and choose whatever pack of problems he or she wants, we would all take back our own bundle. There may be times when the grass is immensely greener on the next person’s field, but it pays to keep in mind that all of us have problems that we have to deal with. This is a basic part of the human condition, and the impetus for our continued growth and development. No amount of success, be it in terms of the name of the school you attend, the grades you achieve, your financial net worth, or the firms you get offers from, will be the answer to it all. This is something I wish people would think about for a little while before burdening someone with “what do you have to complain about.”
DK is happy… sometimes.