If you suspect you may have depression—even if you think it’s just because you work in a hellhole, and you will be FINE once you leave—go ahead and get help. Because unless you’ve got a job offer in hand, you’re going to be there for at least a couple more months. And take it from me, those “couple more months” often translate suddenly into 6 months or 9 months or a year, between workload and inertia. That’s a long time to be depressed, untreated, and miserable.
When lawyers make a mistake, they don’t ask themselves what they could do better or differently next time. Instead, they switch to radio station K-FKD, and just sit in their own little hellish corner and berate themselves. In effect, lawyers hide from opportunities to learn and improve.
The key reason pessimists need to work their way toward optimism: If you’re joined at the hip to the harsh reality that life can routinely dish up, your dreams don’t have a place to exist. They die. Ultimately, refusing to dream costs you a life worth living. A life without dreams is a gray, dim walking death.
Pessimists don’t persevere at the same rate as optimists, which means pessimists often don’t achieve goals that are achievable. Like, say, finding an alternative legal career that gives you fulfillment and high satisfaction. The chief way that pessimism shows up is as learned helplessness. I’ve noticed that law firms are superb at teaching learned helplessness.
Pessimism kills and wounds a lot of searches for dream jobs, dream careers, and dream lives. Particularly for those who are unhappy lawyers, addressing your level of pessimism is key to moving forward and ditching that unhappiness for something much better.
Many of those “truths” we believe about life aren’t so much universally true as self-fulfilling prophecy. See if you can spot a few of your own prophecies. It really will help in your search for a better job, in or outside of law.