The Importance of Being Competitive with Yourself

Hello again! I know I’ve been gone for a while – which is a little ironic seeing as my last few posts included gems like What I Learned from Blogging Every Day and Four Reasons Why Taking a Break Can Boost Your Productivity.

The Writing Competition

I’ve been away working on my law journal writing competition. What started as a three-week chance to earn a spot on a law journal at my school turned into one of the most stressful experiences in recent memory. Something kicked into high gear and I just wanted to compete. As someone who is usually low stress and hardly ever feels competitive, this was a strange shift. One I definitely wasn’t prepared for.

Now, I’m not allowed to talk about the specifics of the competition, but what I can say is that it was hard. The topic, in my opinion, was very difficult. I spent two of the three weeks just trying to understand the material, not a single word written.

Finding the Competitive Spirit

Something happened while I was competing and every ounce of my body just wanted to win. So much so, that I (safely) went home to stay with my parents – abandoning my boyfriend who was also competing – just to completely focus. I kicked all other distractions out of my life, including this blog.

It was a roller coaster of emotions, but I got through it. In the end, I turned in what I thought was a really strong effort. But honestly, even if I don’t make it, I’ve found peace. I forgot that while I make an effort to better myself in my personal life, I’m often complacent in my academic life. Being the best in the class has never been important to me (that’s why I started a project trying to do it, I wanted to see if I could motivate myself to compete). I’m excited that I’ve found that drive to compete.

Maybe it’s a byproduct of this blog – because since starting this journey I’ve just wanted more for myself. Not handouts, but I wanted to earn every bit of satisfaction. Finding competition has been one of the most fulfilling experiences and I’m really glad these weeks of mental burnout and suffering are over. I’m even more glad I came out on top.

The Validation

Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, this morning I received my grades for the motion I wrote. It was the only other thing I slaved over, and I slaved over it because it was a part of my project. The grade came back and I was way above the average. Pushing hard and competing against yourself does pay off.

Do you compete against yourself? Do you find this practice healthy? I’d love to hear any and all thoughts down below!

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Revisiting Project 1 in Light of Grading Changes

My school administration finally changed our grading policy. We knew it was coming and they dropped a bomb. All first years (including me) are now graded on a pass/fail grading system. If you’re in the top 30% of the class, your pass will become an honors pass. But it doesn’t touch your GPA.

I don’t feel great about this change because it takes away my ability to improve my GPA – not that it’s bad, but I certainly thought I was on track to do better. I understand that the world is crazy and we need to be mindful of students who are really hindered by a sudden change or sudden illness and that we can’t anticipate what the world might look like at the end of the month.

That being said, the upperclass students have a different grading system than us: they will be graded as normal (A/B/C) but after these grades come out they can choose however many they’d like to be pass/fail. Just like us, pass/fail doesn’t touch their GPA.

I don’t particularly like the differentiation between classes and I’d rather schoolwide uniformity, but I digress.

I’m not really sure what this means for my classes and how much work I want to put in. I’m also not sure if I’m in a position to CALI in my other classes so I don’t know what helps me achieve my goals.

Additionally, as of right now it’s unclear if getting a CALI is even possible right now. Since our school is a bit prestigious, I’d imagine it’s still a possibility.

That being said, the class where I thought I had the best shot was my legal writing class. Our big paper (the one on music copyright) was due today. I’ve spent the past few weeks really cranking out the argument since I’m pretty sure my side was the losing side. But given how much time I had already spent, I figured I should still gun for the CALI.

I honestly put more time into that paper than I did all the other ones this entire year combined. Since the factors of fair use overlap, I spent a lot of time trying to delineate my arguments and finding a structure that was most effective. I actually wrote notecards out of my arguments, my opponent’s counterarguments, and any fact I could find. Then I took all of them and laid them out on my floor for a few hours to try and find that order.

And damn it, I did it.

Well, kind of.

I hit a massive road block in the writing. I had these beautiful arguments in my head, but I couldn’t put them into words. I spent so long working on individual sentences that up until last night I only had about half my paper written.

It was a mad rush to get it done – but I didn’t cut corners. I made sure I polished everything. It was a late night and an even earlier morning, but I turned in a pretty good paper. There were two sections I felt were a little weak, but I felt much more confident in the rest. I’m not sure it’s enough to get the highest grade in the class, but I’d hope I were in the top five.

I just pray I didn’t have any typos. I didn’t have a chance to reread my paper once I finished.

I got my opponent’s paper shortly after and it reassured me that I had done well. Not that his was bad, I just anticipated all of his arguments.

So, we’ll chalk this up to a victory?

The Halfway Point and Other Winter Blues Observations

Project 1: CALI a Law School Class

Happy midterm week! At the midway point of the semester, I am swamped with work. In the next week and a half I have 3 papers due – which seeing as I only have 5 papers due this entire semester is a bit overwhelming.

Nevertheless, I want to take this opportunity to guess which classes I think I can do the best in. I did this on my first day of class and at the very least it’s a good mental exercise. So allow me to rate my classes in order of least likely to be able to CALI in to most likely.

  • International Law: It’s a pass/fail elective that doesn’t affect my GPA. Technically, it doesn’t even count. That being said, my final paper is due next week (it’s a half semester class) so I can’t cross it off my list just yet.

  • Legislation and Regulation: It’s not that I can’t CALI in this class. It’s just that the expectations are very unclear so it’s a guess as to whether or not what I’m doing is right. My professor uses his own methods which means I can’t even google concepts because what he says goes. We had a midterm on Monday and he went over a potential answer yesterday. The entire class was fighting him over his answers and I sat there in silence. I had the same answers as him. I can’t be too cocky just yet though. I haven’t gotten the midterm back yet.

  • Civil Procedure: Civil procedure is tough, but it’s worth it. Of all my classes, I put the most effort into this one. While I know I can learn all of this material I currently don’t have an outline of everything we’ve learned. I go day-by-day instead of pulling all the concepts together into one big outline. Until I do that, I don’t have a chance at anything. Although since it’s a memorization class, I do think there’s still a chance.

    It’s important to note here that we do multiple choice questions on our phone almost every class. These questions count for 20% of our overall grade. I think I’m doing alright, but if everyone around me is doing better than alright I’m not in a great position to CALI.

  • Property: I really love property. My professor is incredibly entertaining – bordering on a complete nihilist as he rambles on about how at the end of the day, no one really owns anything. He simply drops some profound thoughts that can definitely keep you awake at night if you’re not careful. That being said, he’s also very clear on what key points of the law are and I feel pretty confident I can nail this class.

    Also, we have take-home pass/fail midterm this week which is one of my papers. It’s set up exactly like our final – one really long essay question. After I do that, this ranking could change.

  • Legal Writing: I know it wasn’t in my initial guesses on the first day of the semester, but that’s because I didn’t have the class that day. But I have mentioned this class before. Remember my motion to dismiss? Anyway, I’m pretty sure I stand the best chance in this class. I really nailed the last paper and all of my homeworks have had the highest grade. I’m most definitely at the top of the class right now.

    Legal writing is my only class where we turn in assignments throughout the semester, so I need to keep my momentum going. I hope if I do that, other people might slack off a bit and I can sneak ahead. I have a small paper due on Friday, but a massive one due at the end of March, so I’ll probably have good hard push this upcoming month.

Did you notice that I feel comfortable in all of my classes? I’m a little too complacent right now. I want to propose a secondary part to this project: getting a 4.0. Why not reach for the stars?

The reason I also want to work towards this is because, quite frankly, I don’t do a lot of work. I sleep most evenings and skim my readings. I know if I spent the time living out a Legally Blonde studying montage I can get the 4.0. It might sound arrogant, but I know I can do better.

So with that, let’s raise the stakes: a perfect GPA.