The Wall


The Wall has to be one of the most common reasons people don’t pursue their academic careers further than they do.  Almost all people run into it eventually.  Most of us hit it in undergrad, and the remainder hit it in post-graduate or professional school.

It’s easy to tell who never hits it because they’re now our professors.  Their lust for knowledge has clearly enabled them to not only survive with their sanity intact, but enjoy a life of perpetual academia.  But they’re obviously a minority.

To state the obvious, I didn’t even come close to it in undergrad.  And nearing the end of my first year of law school I was still saying something I would never have said otherwise:  “I won’t hit it.”

I think I finally have, and the purpose of this post is to warn everyone that you probably will too.

Upon hitting the wall, pretty much everyone pushes through and perseveres until they graduate.  Rather than drop out we tend to just finish what we started and move onto bigger and better things, but unfortunately we all have to burden our friends and family with constant whining until we’re finally sporting black robes and marching across the stage at convocation, ready to whine about something else for a change.

Symptoms of hitting the wall include constant fatigue, difficulty paying attention in class, increased tendency to procrastinate (that is, even more than usual), increased frequency of foul language and repetition of obnoxious complaints such as “I can’t take this anymore,” and “I just wanna be done already!”

I guess the reasons one might hit the wall can vary.  Most just get tired of the stress.  Some are anxious to become productive members of society, or see law school as a means to an end and just want to get on with the “career” aspect of their legal education.  Others are drowning in the guilt of having mooched off of parents for the past several decades.  Others still are looking forward to days that actually come to an end, such as, for example, a work day that ends at 5:00pm as opposed to a study day that superficially ends when they leave the library but really doesn’t end until they’re unconscious in bed and unable to worry about it until morning.

Personally, the infamous CUPE 3903/York University stand-off might be what did it for me.  No, I don’t think the school is any less capable of delivering a quality education to its students, and no, I don’t think any other academic institution is any less likely to suddenly experience such an event.  The fact is that it spoiled me, and now things are back to normal.

For three months I enjoyed a near-empty law library without having to tell anyone to shut up or leave, absolutely no line-ups at campus coffee shops and restaurants, an extended and less stressful semester, independent study without the guilt that comes with skipping lectures, and for the first time, feeling like anything other than salmon while making my way through the normally over-crowded hallways of York.

Life was good.  I urge all law students to give that life a shot should they get the chance.  But once it’s over and things are back to “normal,” you’re probably going to be fed up enough to hit the wall, if you haven’t already.

About the Author

Thomas Wisdom
Second-year law student at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University (Toronto, Canada).

2 Comments on "The Wall"

  1. While reading this I had the overwhelming sensation of, “That is so true.”

  2. I hit the wall in Grade 7 — knowledge for its own sake just hasn’t been as appealing since. I’ve been coasting ever since. It’s finally caught up with me.

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