Je Parle Francais!Feb 02, 2021
I was an Army baby born in France. As a kid, I dreamed of going to France, of learning to speak French, maybe even living there. Halfway through seventh-grade French my family moved to a school system that didn't offer French until high school. In the interim I took Spanish, a language I carried through to an off campus program and a second major in college (the "serious" major was Economics -- somehow I still feel the need to justify my Spanish major). In my late 20's I did get a trip to Paris in, but then met my ex-husband to be. In perfect good wife form, I learned German so I could speak with his parents and the dream of learning French fell into the background.
Living and practicing law in Miami I use my Spanish all the time. I have a real facility for languages, but could I learn a fourth language at 55, while practicing law and building a wellness business?
Last fall I signed up for an intensive French course at a college close to where I live. Three hours a day two nights a week. It has been a big commitment. I never find the time to do the homework (don't tell my professor!) but I make sure to attend class, which is now COVID-virtual. For me, language learning is something that happens with a lot of awkwardness at the beginning. You struggle to hear the sounds and remember the words and the verb conjugations and the gender pronoun forms, and you are always in your head translating and feeling off the mark. Then one day, like magic, it clicks and you realize you just understood everything someone said without effort. That happened during class yesterday! Woo Hoo! The feeling that came with that realization was magical!!! That feeling is the essence of growth.
I bring this up because humans need continuous GROWTH for their psychological wellbeing. When we are trapped in Groundhog Day, doing the same things over and over and never feeling challenged or having the joy that comes with accomplishment, we stagnate and become stuck. As lawyers, our jobs are intellectually challenging and interesting, but over time even the most challenging legal practice can begin to feel repetitive.
There are a lot of things we can do to grow. We can learn new things. We can push our boundaries to master skills we have but want to improve. We can learn things that are completely out of our comfort zone that stretch our minds and may give us skills that are broadly applicable in our lives. A lot of times, these skills cross over into our legal work.
For example, you might take an Improv comedy class. It's just for fun but it improves your skills in connecting with an audience and -- juries and judges are an audience! Creative writing may improve the persuasiveness of your legal briefs. Doing something scary like jumping out of a perfectly good airplane could expand your ability to push through fear. Learning to paint or draw may have an impact on how you see things, and that will likely go beyond the canvas.
Making sure that you are always challenged and growing is a great way to avoid boredom and burnout. What do you want to do/make/learn that you haven't done before?
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