Thursday, September 18, 2008

Public Humiliation


Everyone knows if you fail. That's the worst part about the bar exam.

I have always admired the ability of high-level athletes to produce under pressure, when the championship depends on their ability to catch that pass, hit that home run, or swish that free throw. Or, given the recent success of the Olympic men's relay swimming team, to make up an incredible amount of distance in only one length of the pool.

Even more have I admired athletes' ability to bear up under the huge weight of failing on television with the championship on the line, and then immediately submitting to interviews to answer questions like, "How does it feel to . . . ?" Screw up in front of hundreds of thousands of people? Know that total strangers are cursing your name? Face your teammates knowing you let them down? Realize that for the rest of your life you'll be wishing you hadn't taken your eye off the ball even for a split second? It amazes me that they are not crushed by such experiences.

In three days I have my first personal shot at answering direct questions about how I did on the most important, most public written test of my life. In the past, exam-related questions could be answered by saying I was pleased or disappointed with the results. Applied to the bar exam, though, "pleased" clearly means "passed" and "disappointed" can only equal "failed."

I am thinking about a t-shirt that says "Failed. Please don't ask." Just in case.

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