These are more or less the comments I’ve heard in the last couple of years. Since making the decision to leave the practice of law and become a chocolatier, my friends, family, and near strangers have offered encouragement and support. I feel blessed to have individuals in my life who are in my corner. Many have said that I’m brave for making such a dramatic change after more than a decade as a lawyer. I don’t believe that leaving the law is brave but rather know that following a path that makes me happy is the only way. Plus, I believe in living without regrets.
So, in the near future, I plan to launch a business that will offer artisanal chocolates. Spending the hours in my day doing something that gives me joy isn’t courageous. I would have it no other way, even if it robs me of the security (financial and otherwise) that I’ve known for years.
On the flip side, there are the naysayers, doomsayers, cynics, worriers . . . you name it. Interestingly, those I barely know have been openly critical about my decision to stop practicing law. A judge told me that I was “crazy” and that I would soon be “broke.” A male attorney told me that I was disappointing attorneys who had “invested” in me as a lawyer and suggested that I had to repay a tremendous debt to my mentors. Never mind that I’ve consistently worked 10-12 hour days, weekends, and holidays as a lawyer. Any “debt” was long repaid. And those who “invested in me” have been my strongest advocates in this transition.
Several individuals have implied that I’m wasting my legal education (tuition) and training, as though they studied alongside me for law school exams and the bar exam or paid my tuition. No matter what, I’ll always be a lawyer. Whether I practice law is a different story. My legal career has provided me invaluable skills and lessons in starting a business.
Then there have been the comments about my abilities. A senior partner said to me: “You couldn’t cut it, hunh?” Hardly. I had recently been promoted at the firm when I decided to leave. Or there was the third-year law student who asked me if I was leaving law because I couldn’t pass the bar exam. Oh honey.
These remarks are truly bizarre because they were said by those who are, at best, acquaintances. And these criticisms are even more bizarre since my choices aren’t impacting the people who said them. Maybe they’re justifying their decisions not to pursue a path that might bring them joy, or to even find out what might bring them joy. Maybe they have regrets. Maybe they’re scared. Who cares.
If I spent time gathering input from others about life decisions, then I would have listened to those who told me that I was making a mistake by getting into a relationship with my significant other because he isn’t the same race as me, and I would have missed out on an amazing love. I do my best to avoid the naysayers and their type. These days, I keep my head buried in my work and in starting a business, remaining silent enough to listen to my heart rather than what others want for my life.