Thursday, January 26, 2006

i had a feeling yesterday that i haven't had in years and years.

i felt pure, distilled, unadulterated self-confidence.

i was in legal writing class yesterday. we had to bring in our first drafts of our settlement letters. in the context of talking about that, though, our professor told us that we had less than ten minutes to look over the facts, law, and arguments, and be ready to give an oral argument against a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted. i was petrified. i enjoy public speaking, i relish the opportunity to do it, but i felt like whatever i said was going to sound stupid. i felt like i was going to go up there and sound stupid...and since i scream "i'm a future trial lawyer" like kevin screams "gay," i was going to be exposed as a fraud, a wannabe who didn't actually have any game.

the class runs along. the professor keeps calling on people to go up there, but it was clear he wasn't going to get to everyone. i was disappointed, because i wanted to speak in front of the class, but i was petrified, because i knew whatever i said was going to sound absolutely moronic.

cue ten minutes before the end of class. the professor solicits questions about arguments in the settlement letter. i had a question, a nuts-and-bolts organizational thing, which the professor answers...and then he hales me into the spotlight, tells me to go to the podium and to "make an argument, any argument" about the case.

i started talking...i picked what i thought was my most clever and contentious argument. he stopped me early in, and asked if, in fact, one of my premises had actually been proven, was as clear as i claimed. i went back, and argued that point fluidly! i didn't feel stupid, i didn't feel dumb, and the professor didn't shoot me down! he liked what i was saying! after that answer, i went back into what i was planning to argue in the first place. the facts, the law, the premises...it was all coming, and flowing, and i felt so good about what i was saying in front of the class. i wasn't even looking down at my settlement letter...it was sitting on the podium, but i ignored it. i just looked out at the class and the professor, made my points, and made a better, clearer, more founded argument right there on my feet than anything in that settlement letter.

i felt so good about myself when i went back to my seat. it was a complete reversal from all of the doubt that i felt when the assignment was made, less than an hour before. i felt good. i feel ready to make more oral arguments. i want to practice, i want to get even better...but it was a great start, getting stopped and started and questioned by my professor about the arguments i was making--without even flinching.

i don't think i've felt that good about myself, about a performance that i have made, since mock trial, back when i was playing brook sills.

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