ssaysI Am Ready for Law School I began hallucinating early Thursday morning.
My team and I were halfway finished with what our instructors dubbed “The Long Paddle,” and I could feel my sanity slowly slipping away. A combination of severe sleep deprivation and extreme physical exercise can do that to you. I had not had more than three hours of sleep since “Hellweek” had begun on Sunday afternoon.
As I looked around me, I contemplated the extent of my delirium. I was reasonably certain that the Statue of Liberty does not belong in San Diego, and I doubted that the tigers I could see racing along the river shore were real. My ears picked up the sound of our boat’s leader having a heated argument with Jenkins, but Jenkins had quit the team two weeks ago. Looking around me, I felt reassured seeing the confused expressions on my teammates’ faces. Even though I was stuck in a tiny inflatable boat with six potential lunatics, I at least knew that I was not the only one being affected by the exercise.
Hell week. I had been through some incarnation of it during each year of my life, ever since peewee football. But no previous “hell” could compare to the punishment that the United States Navy dishes out during Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training (BUD/S).
Hell week marks the sixth week of BUD/S, and is a six-day celebration of misery designed to eliminate weak candidates. Only the strong can survive it. This year’s week of torment was heightened by an untimely cold spell; more than two thirds of our original class had already quit.
Running on soft sand beaches while wearing combat boots, getting a facemask full of salt water while lugging twin steel scuba tanks on your back, being soaking wet and covered with sand… these are enough to make most people question their desire to finish the program. But it was the cold that claimed the most victims. We shivered through the nights and well into the mornings, the chill of the air seeping into our very bones. Visions of hot meals and warm beds haunted us; we knew that ending the suffering and the cold was as easy as quitting the program.
And quitting was so very east. Simply stand in front of your classmates and ring a silver ship’s bell three times…
the temptation was nearly irresistible. But I had set a goal for myself and I knew, even in the midst of that Thursday morning delirium, that giving up was not an option. The BUD/S program had already made a marked difference in my life. When I first decided to become a frogman, I was not a gifted swimmer or an accomplished distance runner, and I had a slight fear of heights. Over the course of my training, however, I routinely swam six miles into the open ocean and ran upwards of fifteen miles on land, and had jumped out of airplane more than once.
Moreover, I gained a sense of confidence in my ability to set and attain goals. I learned that virtually any challenge can be overcome by defining clear objectives, understanding the qualities needed to achieve them, and then systematically overcoming weaknesses and complementing strengths to best approach the task. For many months I agonized over the decision to attend law school.
At this point in my life, I seem to have all I need: a comfortable house in the suburbs, a happy marriage, and a beautiful daughter. My career as an accountant is pleasant, and leaves me enough free time to pursue my hobbies. In short, I could have simply sailed happily through life toward my eventual retirement party. But I realized that to do so would be to set a severe limit upon my potential. I require constant, arduous challenges that demand all of my resources, both physical and mental. I want to contribute more to the world than simply capitalizing on my current company’s success.
I understand fully the rigors associated with studying law, and I am prepared to dedicate as much time as it takes to understand its theories and practices. I believe that certain qualities distinguish a superior law school graduate: dedication to the pursuit of knowledge; the ability to effectively argue and defend an opinion; and the skills to plan, research, and execute a watertight case. These qualities are vital to law, and can also reap extensive rewards in many other areas of life. I am ready, willing, and prepared to accept the challenges I will face during law school, and look forward to forging a successful career, both as a student and as an attorney.