The news is still settling - you did not achieve your goal of passing the bar exam. You might feel mad, angry, sad, disappointed, or anything under the sun that does not feel good. As someone who sat for the bar exam three times, I am quite familiar with the way it feels and what thoughts you might have running through your mind.
I encourage you to let yourself work through your thoughts and feelings and to be kind to yourself. Below are a few practices that can help you move through this time period and towards success on your next attempt.
1. Accept the results. Although the result is not what you had hoped for know that you gave it your all. Nobody prepares for this exam with failure in mind so you should feel comfort in the fact that you worked hard, showed up, and made it to the other side. To even be eligible to sit for the bar exam you have had to work hard. Relish in your achievements up until now and remember – this does not define you and this does not make you any less of a human being or lawyer.
2. Deep breathes. You might be thinking what can deep breathing do for me and why now? When we take time to mindfully be aware of our breathing by taking five to ten deep breathes, it signals to our internal fight or flight mechanism that we are safe, calm, and results in a calming effect on our body. Deep breathing at this stage will not only help you collect yourself and your thoughts about how to move forward but it will equip you with a great tool you can utilize at any time when you feel overwhelmed or stressed whether it is bar exam related or not.
3. Become aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Not only in your study habits but in your knowledge of the law. Are you extremely strong in Contracts but do not feel as comfortable in Property? Do you struggle with time management on the exam? Do you need to write more practice essays under timed, test-like conditions? Ask yourself these uncomfortable questions. Honest self-observation and self-reflection can help you fill in your blanks and be an extremely informative guide moving forward. If you have a professor familiar with your performance and whom you trust, reach out to them. They might be instrumental in giving you those few words of encouragement that you need to strap your boots back on and make your way!
4. Be kind to yourself. I saved the best for last and for good reason. This time period can be exceptionally unsettling and stressful so I propose that you be as kind to yourself as possible. Of course, this can take shape in many different forms. Whether it means giving yourself time (unlimited or not) to let the results sink in and decide what to do next, spend more time doing something you really enjoy or even taking a family member or friend to your one of your favorite places or restaurants, these actions are important and signal to yourself that life will go on and that you are taking care of yourself.
Although at times not passing the bar can feel as if all of your hard work over the years did not pay off, rest assured that you can overcome this challenge if you aspire to and that the result of this exam is not a reflection of your work ethic, persona, or character. May you incorporate what above practices resonate with you into your current life experience and may you keep yourself in good spirits.