Sitting across the table from me is a very bright, articulate, mature woman with an underutilized law degree.
She has a vision—a family law practice to serve an ethnic community with which she has a shared heritage, and for whom she has been a volunteer advocate for years.
She is at a point in her life where she wants to claim her professional status in ways which honor her social consciousness, but the opinions of others have stopped her in her tracks.
"There are so few encouraging voices," she says. Her head droops and she begins a litany of the dispiriting comments she's heard from people with whom she has shared her goal—the economy is awful, you'll be competing with young attorneys right out of law school who will work for nothing, immigration law is very complicated, etc.
Building upon this foundation of negativity, she adds obstacles of her own: "Maybe I don't have the skills, the experience, or the stamina ...."
I have a strong urge to jump in and remind her of her many positive attributes, but I keep quiet and let her finish. When I speak I don’t argue with anything she has said, but softly observe, "It's all about working the process. When we make a choice to pursue a particular goal, our task is simply to do our very best to stay in the process of working toward it, which includes not abandoning it prematurely because of what ‘they’—whoever they happen to be—have to say.”