Twenty years ago today I graduated from Vanderbilt Law School.
I was 24 years old. (Yes, you can do that math.)
I felt utterly grown up and ready to take on the world. I had put myself through college and law school and landed a job in Fort Worth, Texas. A city where I had never lived nor to which I had any connections, but it would allow me to pay back that big law school loan.
I never dreamt of being a lawyer. In fact, I’d planned my entire young life to become a pediatrician. A few rocky college science courses sent me drifting. When a college professor informed me I debated well, and then I got into some good law schools, off I went to Nashville (never having stepped foot in that city until the week law school started – remember those were the days before you could check everything out on the Internet).
They were a good three years. I loved law school. I was single and in a rebellious phase after 21 years of being the oldest, responsible “good girl.”
When this old graduation photo popped up in my email last week, it forced me to reflect on where I’ve been. And where I’m going.
I am half way.
I have practiced 20 years and will probably practice about 20 more (though wouldn’t it be nice to retire before 64?!?!).
I have held four jobs. For the first four and half years of my career, I tackled litigation at an old Texas law firm in Fort Worth. When I decided to emphasize regulatory and environmental, I moved to Houston where I worked for an amazing boutique firm which was acquired by a big global firm. That’s how I spent 2003 through 2012. But because life changed a lot in those years, I met the amazing man I’ve now been married to for 12 years and had some pretty miraculous triplets, I changed course.
Over five years ago, I joined a Fortune 5 global energy company. I love my work here. Especially now. I’m doing every kind of law possible for a major project. I have colleagues who have become dear friends and I’m constantly learning something new. (One of my favorite pastimes.)
But law was never my dream. So it’s never really been “enough.”
I love working with community, faith, industry and bar organizations, so I’ve tried my hand at a few. God’s also opened some surreal opportunities to write a book and travel sometimes speaking and, most and best of all, have this little corner here to hang out with really cool working women.
But that’s all done.
So what next?
If I could do something that would be good and meaningful and helpful and kind, then what is it?
If I’m fortunate enough to get 20 more years, how can I do more? Be better? Help more impactfully?
This half way season is a hard one.
I married in my thirties which means I have elementary aged kids in my 40s. That just happens to coincide when your career kicks into overdrive. And when your parents, if you’re fortunate like I am to have them still, are aging. And when your marriage has been around for a while and you want to make sure you’re investing enough to make sure it lasts a lot longer.
I’ve scaled back on the extracurricular. I want to invest in the people closest to me. With a full time job and a long commute, I reserve those “extra” hours for them. In a way I didn’t five years ago. I’ve scaled back writing, here and elsewhere, and speaking, here and elsewhere.
So knowing we all have a finite amount of time, I want to do a 360 degree evaluation. What still needs to go? Where is there inefficiency? What can I do better: at home, at work, at church, in the community? How do I get healthier so I have 20 plus years?
Twenty years, y’all.
It doesn’t feel like 20 years. But seeing how it can whiz by, I am going to spend the next twenty days deciding intentionally what’s next.
There’s this verse in Ephesians, Chapter 2, I love. One translation reads: For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
What has God planned for me to do that I’ve not done? How can I be focused and intentional and do THAT?
Twenty days to look ahead.