People mistake comfort for my passion about the subject of Disability Rights. In truth, I still don’t speak up enough in large meetings with other passionate people. I’m much more comfortable listening than talking. I only speak when I have something to say. The part that people don’t see after I give one of my big speeches is the part where I sit quietly and read for a long time.
Despite my quietness, I do step into leadership voids, and I have done that since at least college. By the end of my college experience, I was on the school newspaper, in two different roles. I was on the Student Government for a while, and I was involved with several school committees. I tried to add things to my calendar in a small way, one thing at a time. All I’ve done is continue to do that after college. I’m a lot less busy since college, and that was less active than high school. In high school, I would do homework from the time I got home until I went to bed. That’s how long it took me to complete the daily work physically. That’s probably when I developed my strong work ethic.
I guess in some ways, stepping up does indicate leadership, but to me, I was just doing what had to be done.
Mom and many others have an elaborate plan for me since I have a passion for advocacy, a willingness to serve the community, and good work ethics. They all think I should head to law school and then go into some politics. It’s true I do enjoy watching politics from the sideline, and I like educating lawmakers. I did extremely well in high school civics. If I remember correctly, I had the third highest grade on the Civics final, and that includes students who were in the upper level of the Civics class. But right now, I don’t see myself going that route. I tried to inspire myself to build up motivation necessary to go to law school. Everybody knows it’s hard, so I don’t want to put myself through that. On the other hand, I do have a passion for advocacy, an extreme interest in social justice, and all the other resume type things that a law student or lawyer would have. Based on my Linked In profile, I have been mistaken for a lawyer. A lawyer Linked in and talked to me, looking for job advice. I think it took him to the end of the conversation for me to have the chance to say I’m not a lawyer, I’m a very skilled advocate, but I haven’t been to law school.
Another reason I hesitate to go Mom’s route is a tiny percentage of people with my personality type go to law school and become successful lawyers. When I compare my excitement for other classes, for example, journalism classes, it’s night and day. I was eager to take journalism the first day I heard about it and was excited about every single aspect of the experience. If I could build up the motivation, as I did in journalism, I’d probably do well. But deep down, it’s just not there. Which leaves me in an interesting position, because on all my boards and organizations, I work very closely with lawyers, and many are my friends, and we have pleasant conversations and similar interests and hobbies. But I feel I’m going to need to have some different sort of academic training so that I can have credentials behind my name. But I still don’t know in what field I would fit. One good experience I’ve had is getting to know a lot of advocates who are great advocates but they’re not lawyers. They have high levels of other academic training, which is the same kind of thing for me. Mom always told me that I had to go to law school if I wanted to be a successful advocate, but my friends told me that’s not necessarily the case. Now comes the question I don’t know the answer to. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
I feel kind of like I did this backward, which I’m kind of proud of. A lot of people couldn’t do it. I got the big impressive advocacy role first, and now I have to find academic training and the paycheck to match. As my boss says, I’m out there every day speaking, thinking, talking and sharing to make our world a better place.