March 31, 2011 § Leave a comment
It’s that time of year again… finals time, crunch time, losing my hair and eating 40 pounds of sugar time. Except this time feels a little different from me. This round marks my 14th round of finals since starting college 7 years ago. Wow, I started college 7 years ago… which means it’s almost my 10 year HS reunion. Which means I’m almost thirty! Which means… I’m actually not really stressed about finals. No. Clearly I’m more about time passing me by and feeling the creeping hands of age come after me… but I digress.
For those that ARE stressed about finals, Yale Law School has devised a new way to help you cope with your stress. The YLS Library has decided to start a therapy program for their high strung students. Starting a few days ago, they began loaning out their library mascot: Monty the Dog to stressed out students in need of some basic companionship and fun.
the library’s therapy terrier Monty will be available to “check out” for thirty minute periods, with the faculty claiming “it is well documented that visits from therapy dogs have resulted in increased happiness, calmness, and overall emotional well-being.”
First. I really have to wonder what YLS students have to be so stressed about. I mean yes, law school is stressful – but much of the reason it’s stressful is the constant competition you feel with your fellow classmates due to the bell curve. You hope others will do bad (or at least not as well as you) so you can rank higher than them. Without that higher ranking, you are probably going to be jobless in life. (Joke?) So, of course you are stressed. But YLS doesn’t give out grades their first year! So maybe this is just for the older students.
Second. This actually is a really good idea. I remember how miserable I was my first year of law school, and actually my second and possibly my third as well – with the exception of a brilliant semester abroad. No, I kid again! But really, though I was never miserable – there were times when I felt so… bewilderingly unhappy that I wondered why I was here in the first place. I’m not sure what is it exactly that makes law school so – awful. I remember my first day of orientation – the Dean of Student Affairs was giving his speech, and he says (to a room full of bright eyed eager 1Ls) “Lawyers in America are among the profession that have the highest suicide rates, highest rates of depression, and highest rates for alcoholism.” Inspired much?
And here’s where the brilliance of Monty the Dog comes in. I think part of the reason why we are so unhappy is because we live in a world of isolation. I’m not entirely sure how we can feel so isolated when most of us live within a 2 mile radius of the school, we frequent the same three sandwich shops that are less than a 5 minute walk away, we booze at the same bars, and we make friends and inter date each other. But the feeling is there, and if I could poll most students – or rather, sit them in a room and ask them some hard questions and make them put away their snarky shell of an exterior – it would come out that most of us feel alone. Though we realize that our fellow classmates are all going through the same stress of studying, grades, and ultimately jobs – we feel like we are the lone straggler journeying through a desert, looking for our oasis, completely unaware of the other lone stragglers all searching for their oasis.
So why is that? Is that because of the odd dynamic of friendly competition that exists so much your first two years? Maybe what’s more accurate is the poisonous feeling that if you aren’t at the top of your class, you will fail, you will never find a job, and you will die a lonely death. (Joke.) But I think there’s something to be said about that pressure to be the best – the pressure that without being the very best of your class – you will be branded a failure. That is something that is very isolating.
So yes, YLS Library, I applaud you. I applaud that you recognize that what these frustrated law students need is some basic companionship – 30 minutes with someone or rather something that will play with them, let them escape from the awful confines of their mental reality, and let them experience something close to someone just being there and understanding them.
I just hope the dog is okay with spending so much time with so many miserable people.