A Personal Reflection: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Yesterday was a turning point in my life.  Since August, 1982, I have been a law professor.  Over the course of thirty-two years, I have taught over 4000 students various law courses, including copyright law, trademark law, antitrust law and contracts.  The students I’ve taught have been overall very hard-working, determined, and excited to be in law school.  I’ve enjoyed every semester, though perhaps not every day that I’ve taught during those semesters.  Sometimes I was tired, impatient, or disappointed; sometimes the students were bored or unprepared or frustrated.  But those were the rare days.  Almost all the time, I loved being in the classroom.  I loved helping students to learn, laughing with them, pushing them to try harder, and delighting in their successes.  It was never boring for me; it was almost always fun and rewarding.

Yesterday was my last day teaching law students.  After thirty-two years, I’ve decided to retire from the law school faculty and pursue other interests, including but not limited to genealogy.  I was not tired of the students or teaching, but it was time for a change.   I hope to find new ways to use my skills and love of teaching as a volunteer, working with a different type of student, teaching something other than law.  I want to learn new things myself.  I want time to do the things that I’ve not been able to do while working full time.  But I will miss teaching law students and preparing them for a profession that they are so excited and proud to enter.

Yesterday I said goodbye to my students.  I got choked up.  It caught me by surprise how emotional I was, how sad I felt.  I thought I would want to celebrate.  I’d been counting down the days all year.  Until this last week.  Then suddenly I no longer was counting the days.  It suddenly felt scary and sad.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have no second thoughts; I know this is the right thing for me and the right time to do it. But after 32 years, if I didn’t feel a little sad, what would that say about those 32 years? As my brother-in-law once said in a different context, if it doesn’t hurt when it’s over, it could not have been worth very much.

Yesterday is over; today I am processing what it meant.  But tomorrow I will start thinking about what is ahead.  I still have exams to grade, recommendation letters to write, one more faculty meeting, and graduation to attend.  But after that I get to start a brand new chapter of my life.  The third chapter.  Chapter One was preparing to be an adult: childhood, adolescence, and education.  Chapter Two was being an adult: raising a family, owning a home, having a profession.  Chapter Three?  I don’t know what Chapter Three will bring.  I hope it brings new challenges, new experiences, new discoveries.  I hope it brings time to reflect, time to give back, time to be with those I love, time to learn and write and think and read—all the things I love best.  I know that a big part of Chapter Three will be learning more about my ancestors, more about my family.  I know that this blog will be a big part of it as well.  All my life I have wanted to write.  This is my chance.  This is my time.  Tomorrow is here; yesterday is over.

 

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27 thoughts on “A Personal Reflection: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

  1. As a new-found cousin, I congratulate you on finding such a rewarding path and following it to fruition. You have already shown your decision-making abilities to be on target; I have no doubt that the choices you make for Chapter Three will make you happy. I look forward to our eventual meeting and marathon conversation!

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  2. I’m sure all those lives you’ve touched over the years appreciated your guidance. Now you can guide yourself into the next fun stage of life. The best is yet to come.

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  3. Amy, congratulations! I understand the sadness, but there is much ahead that will be rewarding. I had to quit teaching (English at the university) in 2005 because of medical problems, and it was very sad and exciting (I was burned out by department politics). I actually haven’t missed it that much, and it’s been in part because of the blogs (I have 3 haha). The best advice I can give is to not let yourself get back in the position of grading again ;). I always hated it, maybe because of all the papers to grade. Essay answers on law tests have got to be very stressful to grade.

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  4. Amy congratulations on your amazing 32 years of being a law professor – no small feat indeed – that’s lots of law school students whose lives you’ve affected – I’m sure you will be missed! As you say though this is a new chapter in your life so I’m sure it will be challenging, but rewarding times as you plan for the future. As a newly-found cousin I look forward to meeting you and the family and would look forward to a reunion – here’s a toast to the future!

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