Finding Happiness Outside of Law School

How to stay YOU while in law school

Desiree Duke a 2L KU Law Student Ambassador

Wake up at 5:00 a.m., study all day, eat a meal or two, study some more, and go to bed around 11:00 p.m. When I came to KU Law, my life revolved around law school. Everything I did, every move I made, and all that I was, was law school.

I. Was. Miserable.

I had lost all that I was – who I was. I no longer did things that made me happy. I no longer took time to focus on myself and my mental health. I loved law school, I was getting good grades, and made great friends…but I wasn’t happy.

During the summer between 1L and 2L year, I had time to re-discover myself and the things that I loved: working out, reading for pleasure, finding new hobbies, and spending time with those I cared about. Coming into my 2L year, I made it my absolute mission to ensure those things that I loved – those things that made me happy – followed me back into law school.

Now don’t get me wrong, my life is still very revolved around law school, and I am still incredibly busy with studying and work! However, I have simply found ways to incorporate doing the things that make me happy into the mix with law school in a realistic and sustainable way. Ever since, this challenging time of my life – law school – has felt more enjoyable.

Working out every single day isn’t as easy or accessible. So, I find comfort and joy in simple fifteen-to-thirty-minute walks here and there. Before going to bed, I put the law books down, and pick a nonfiction book up. I want to escape into a world and a reality that isn’t law school related. Some nights, instead of studying or laying on my phone, I watch a painting tutorial on YouTube and mindlessly paint with some good music on in the background.

I have put time and effort into things that I love that aren’t law school related, and it has made me a healthier, happier, and more successful law student.

Whether it is staying active, reading, or any hobby you enjoy doing, I cannot stress enough – make sure you bring it with you to law school. Work hard, study hard, and do your best – but do not ever lose yourself in this process. Your happiness and mental health mean more than you know.

— Desiree Duke is a 2L KU Law Student Ambassador from Albuquerque, New Mexico