It’s Not Easy Being Me

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As an INFJ, it’s not always easy to get through life. I feel that I’m an extroverted introvert in that I don’t find it difficult to communicate. I do love being left alone and have a great need to recharge my batteries. I don’t like having several plans in a day; it’s often all I can do to do one thing outside my home. I am always “in my head” and probably come across as strange or withdrawn to some people.

I am also a Virgo, a sign known for being nitpicking and critical. I criticize myself to the point that I hate myself. Please don’t criticize me, for I know what I’m doing wrong and don’t need to be told.

I don’t like a lot of things other people like. I hate hamburgers, hot dogs and sandwiches. I loathe all condiments except salt, pepper and maple syrup. I don’t like Mexican, Thai, Korean or Chinese food (although I do enjoy hot chicken wings from Capital Restaurant in San Francisco’s Chinatown and pho from Turtle Tower, also in San Francisco). I can eat Italian food every day of the week.

I don’t enjoy parties. If there’s someone I can talk to there, then great, but if not, please don’t make me go. Let me stay home and read or watch TV. If all you wish to discuss are your kids, recipes and clothes, you will not find me a willing conversant. I’d rather discuss politics and the state of the world.

I am 1000% a cat person. I work at an animal shelter and am around lots of dogs, but felines will ALWAYS have my heart. I get weepy when I think of how much I love our cats.

I went to law school. It was difficult for me until I reached my third year, when I participated in the Elder Law Clinic. I enjoyed helping the indigent elderly. I hated having to move to Texas and take the Texas bar exam instead of Pennsylvania’s, as most of my classmates got to do. It took me three tries to pass the damn thing. That isn’t an easy thing to admit. I know people who passed the California bar, considered one of the country’s hardest, on the first try. I think part of it was that I was fighting having to be in Texas at all. I graduated in May 2005, moved to Texas in June 2005, and took the Texas bar for the first time in July 2005. The first time I took BARBRI (the standard study course everyone takes to prepare for the bar), but was still getting settled and goofed off a lot. The second time I used Micromash (an alternative, less-used study program) and worked my ass off, but still failed in February 2006. I only passed in July 2006 when I set up a study schedule and stuck to it. Mujeeb was working at UT Southwestern Medical School, and I rode to work with him and studied in the Parkland Hospital library (taking breaks to walk around the building and go to visit the trauma area where JFK died, although it’s been completely changed since 1963). I booked a hotel room near the Arlington Convention Center so I could be near the test-taking venue and on breaks listened to a special motivational playlist I created for myself. I felt that this time I might have done it, and come November, I learned that I had. What a feeling!

I went to work at Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, where I represented indigent clients in family and housing matters. I liked my fellow attorneys, but really didn’t enjoy practicing law. I tend to delve into the weeds and focus on issues that others don’t find important, which may be part of being an INFJ; I don’t know. That got me into trouble in law school. Of course I saw the big issues, but spent too much time focusing on stuff that didn’t matter that much. I remember reading something in Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs about Virgo not only not seeing the forest for the trees, but counting the leaves on every branch. I put the leaves under the microscope and count every cell. I drive myself quite mad sometimes.

I left Legal Aid when I developed three herniated discs in my lower back and had to take a leave of absence to undergo physical therapy and injections. I decided not to return because I was very stressed out, but found that they were laying off attorneys and I would have been laid off anyway.

We ended up moving to Houston, and I decided to start my own firm, where I could be my own boss. I enjoyed setting up my practice, but didn’t enjoy actually practicing. I practiced for a couple of years, mostly doing pro bono work. It wasn’t as fulfilling as I had hoped. I drove myself crazy wanting to be PERFECT. A supervising attorney once said, “Clients are a darned sight better off with us than without us.” I took my need for perfection too far.

We soon moved to Illinois and on to Oregon, and I don’t plan on taking the Oregon bar because I’m done with the law. I think part of my problem is that I have “impostor syndrome.” (Google it.) I always felt weird saying the words “I’m a lawyer” because I felt like a fraud. It’s like only other people could be legitimate lawyers – not silly old me! No matter that I worked hard for that Juris Doctor degree. No matter that I have a diploma and photos of myself shaking the Dean’s hand. It just doesn’t seem real.

When I’m around other attorneys, I often have twinges and thoughts such as, “Maybe…” But no. I am working at an animal shelter with terrifically compassionate and energetic people. I love what I’m doing now and am happy. How many people can say that?