What the QL Community Means to Me
This isn’t going to be pretty.
Two not-so-good things happened in my time at QL.
1. In 2L, a long-term relationship ended, so I got myself tested. They found something not-so-good, and after over 1 hour of sitting in the doctor’s office, I realized I was walking out of there with the task of choosing treatment and contemplating the loss of my uterus. My parents are conservative Chinese, so I chose to go it alone, pay a cab driver to keep the meter running so someone can drive me home after procedures (otherwise they don’t let you leave the hospital!)
2. Last semester, a guest lecturer was talking about a noble cause in class: research about children victims of sexual assault that manifested in some rather groundbreaking changes in the trial process. At least, I think. I had to leave class.
I was vacuumed back to a memory clip I long stored in the archives of my mind. For 18 years, it visited me in my nightmares, it percolated into trust issues and other such baggage, seemingly unexplained; I’m sure people interpreted it as just a part of my character.
Dark spots began to pepper my vision, and they grew into orbs. There was no air. All I could hear was my heart. I left class without my phone; I was going to call 911 because was this a heart attack? The hall was empty. In a moment of stricken panic, I did what many law students do, and went to she who holds infinite wisdom—Helen Connop.
I dropped into her chair and couldn’t find the words because I was still unaware. Then, for the first time in 18 years, I told someone. Pandora’s box is now open. I’m still quite scared about that.
And my fears came true: I was wrecked. This wreckage is still very much live, so I will spare you (and myself) the gory details.
This brings me to my point about community. There are many sources of stress here—a competitive curve leading into an ultra-competitive job market, social dynamics that arise when you blend a couple hundred overachievers into one town. Even volunteer positions can be competitive.
And just maybe . . . this collective experience of living with a constant buzzing of anxiety has afforded us with an intuition for identifying it. There is no other way I can put this. If it were not for the people here, I do not know where I would be today. If it were not for a partner and friends and strangers at QL who continues to tolerate me at my worst moments, I do not know who I would have become.
In order to graduate, I’m juggling 17 credits (including a moot), medical appointments, and guilt. I’ve lost count of the committees I oversee. My grades have suffered. My body and my mind is no longer a predictable entity it once was. But I’m still here!
I’m grateful for you and you and you. Your acts of kindness help me along in a day. When PBSC, or the Refugee Program, or the LSS, or Juris Diction or a Club sends out an e-mail, share a thing they did on Facebook, it gets me through my day.
I’m sorry I did not do more for you this year—I had many ideas, but I lost myself a little, a lot.
There have been waves of mental health initiatives this past decade. I remember stomping on some stigma in undergrad. Bell’s Let’s Talk caught some serious momentum. It is excellent, excellent to see people comfortable and brave enough to share their stories on social media. I saw a lot of successes—but no failures.
Currently on an average day, I feel like a walking failure. I reckon if I do, others might too. No one needs to wait until we’re “done” with a struggle to pat us on the back. You may congratulate me today, for managing to put my clothes on (if you want). I’m just about superbly confident that if there is any group of folks who would find this valuable to do, it is the Queen’s Law community.
Your friendlihood VP Academic.