Early Thursday morning I began hallucinating. Sleep deprivation coupled with extreme physical exertion can do that to you. I had not had more than three hours of sleep since Sunday afternoon, the beginning of Hellweek. The statue of Liberty does not belong in San Diego, and I doubted those tigers racing along the shore were real. We were halfway finished with what our instructors dubbed, “The Long Paddle” and I was getting delirious. I could hear the officer in charge of our boat team having a heated discussion with Jenkins, problem was, Jenkins had quit the program two weeks earlier. For some reason it was reassuring to know that I wasn’t the only being affected by the exercise, even though it meant that I was stuck in a tiny inflatable boat with six other potential lunatics. Hellweek, I had been through some incarnation of it every year since peewee football. But there was no comparison to the punishment that the United States Navy dishes out during Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training (BUD/S).
The sixth week of BUD/S marks the beginning of Hellweek; a six-day celebration of misery designed to encourage the weaker candidates to quit. A cold snap had wreaked havoc on our class, by the last day of Hellweek more than two-thirds of our original class had quit. Soft sand beach runs wearing combat boots, twin steel scuba tanks and a facemask full of salt water, all the while soaking wet and covered in sand is encouragement enough to make most people question their desire to finish the program. But it is the cold that claims the most victims. Shivering all night and well into the morning for days on end is enough to make a strong man weak, especially when a hot meal and a warm bed are so close. All anyone had to do to be delivered from this suffering was quit. Simply stand in front of your classmates and ring a silver ship’s bell three times and you could be on your way to a hot meal and a comfortable mattress. But I had set a goal for myself and I knew, even in that Thursday morning delirium, that quitting the program was not one of my options.
When I had applied to BUD/S and set a goal to become a frogman I was not an exceptionally gifted swimmer, an accomplished distance runner, and I had a more than healthy respect for heights. By the time that my training had been completed, swimming six miles in the open ocean was commonplace, running upwards of fifteen miles was the norm, and well, no one had to pushme out of an airplane although it would be hard to consider that commonplace. I have learned that by clearly defining ones goals, understanding the qualities needed to achieve that objective, and by systematically training to overcome weaknesses and complementing strengths required to accomplish that goal, virtually any challenge can be met successfully.
My decision to attend law school was not one that came easily to me. After all, I have a comfortable house in the suburbs, a happy marriage, and a beautiful daughter. My career as an accountant was working out as I had planned and I still had enough free time to pursue my hobbies. By all accounts I could maintain my status quo and coast happily through my life until my retirement party. But I can not do that to myself, I require challenges, arduous and demanding challenges. I want to contribute more to the workforce than capitalizing my company’s construction in progress.
I understand the rigors associated with the study of law and I am prepared to dedicate my time so that I may excel at understanding it’s theories and practices and in turn use that knowledge to better my professional career and my personal requirements to be the best at what I have set out to do. I believe that the qualities that make a successful law school graduate: dedication to the pursuit of knowledge, ability to effectively argue and defend an opinion, and to plan, research, and execute a successful case are qualities that can pay off in many aspects of life.
I understand the challenges associated with the study of law, I have taken measures to improve on the skills that are necessary to complete a law school program, and I am ready, willing and prepared to accept those challenges so that I may become a successful attorney following my graduation.
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