New Years

When I started this blog I didn’t want to write much about Jewish related things because I wanted to write about things in the world from how I saw them independent of my religious identity.

But as time has gone on I have come to realise and accept that my Judaism is an intrinsic part of who I am. So to attempt to write about myself and my thoughts and purposefully ignore something that shapes who I am seems foolish and naive.

My thoughts and my opinions and my beliefs are formed on the basis of my religious values and while I used to feel ashamed to share that lest I portray myself as a religious zealot I have come to understand that it is not something that subtracts from my view of the world. It is not blinders but rather an added element of my life that helps me to see things with the aspect of my own religious morality that I can’t ignore. Or at least, I no longer wish to ignore.

So anyway, last week was the Jewish new year which begins a month of lots of different Jewish holidays that provoke a lot of reflection.

Over the course of the holiday, I found myself reflecting on the so many dramatic highs and lows of the year, overcome with emotion in realising just how much has happened.

New Years tend to evoke the idea of new resolutions, of promises that are easily made and broken in the same month. But to me, the new year feels like the first taste of water after you’ve been thirsty for a long time. It is the sweetness of honey and the tart flavour of an apple bursting on the tip of my tongue and I am all at once transported here there and everyone.

To a large extent it is the wish for a happier tomorrow, the heart felt prayer for a better, happier, healthier year for everyone you know. And for me, it is the time where I spend some time to note all the amazing things that have happened this year and the things that people have done for me.

It is fresh and exciting and new. And while it isn’t marked by fireworks and a midnights kiss it feels like the first day of spring when daylight begins to grow and promise feels fresh and fierce.

This New Years I found myself being incredibly grateful and also incredibly morose over all the suffering that people have experienced this year.

I think it is a time where some people become apathetic and resentful. They question what the point is given what has happened and the certain inevitability of what will happen anyway.

But I don’t look at life or anything like that. Because I have to choose to believe that tomorrow will be better. So when I bit into that piece of apple drizzled with honey, it tasted like gratitude and the future. The open horizon and first steps towards doing it all again.

Completely different and yet weighted in hundreds of years of tradition.

It’s a sweet bite.

If that’s how you want to see it.

To New Years. New starts. To giving it another go.

— liora

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It has been a while

I have started so many blog posts in the last few weeks but have found myself short on what to say. News headlines have popped up in my brain unending in their ferocity and distressing information and yet after a few moments of contemplating the next piece in this doom puzzle, I find myself distracted by something else. And then something after that. Because the news seems to be even more aggressive than usual.

Natural and human disasters seem to be part and parcel of 2021 and there is no reprieve. The first thing that caught my eye this morning, other than checking to make sure that nothing else unpredicted and awful was the Wall Street Journal notification I received, informing me that the Texas law banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy took effect, making it the most restrictive measure in the U.S. But don’t worry, because the Supreme Court could still weigh in.

I feel this sense of heavy doom, like disaster is not on the horizon, but rather it is here, with us. And while I like to use my platform to spread positivity, I find myself not wanting to enter into that realm of toxic positivity, when realism is screaming at me to take notice of all the things that the natural and human worlds are screaming. Only willful ignorance will prevent a person from seeing what is happening.

So while my brain goes round and round in a never ending doomsday style tape, I still try to find the light and figure out how to fight the darkness because otherwise I may as well just sit down and cry, and I may never get up again.

In Afghanistan the terror and the fear has come in a tidal wave and brought with it all the things that the West decided belonged to the past. Yet men, women and children are begging to be saved, clutching at the gates as they are closing in on them. And the mentality of the Western governments seems to lack a horrifying amount of empathy given their desire to remove only their own citizens from the path of danger. As if it was ever the innocent’s fault that they were born into a country torn by war and ruled by tyrants.

Natural disaster struck in Haiti and in Louisiana, proving that no amount of man made technology can ever really fight the force of nature. And I’m not going to belabor the point, because I will start crying if I do, but so much communal, personal and societal pain. Delta cases are surging, bringing back the traumatic memories of the 2020. I think in particular, for me, the question lies in the human responses that we have to these crises, the desires we have as people to do something, anything to stop even one moment of pain in another.

Which is why the refusal of many people to wear masks and get vaccinated baffles me. Above I have laid out the numerous, exhausting list of just some of the tragedies that are happening today. Let alone what has happened last month or the month before. My headlines scream of the things happening in this moment.

Human pain and suffering is so visceral and diverse in its manifestation that it is hard to believe that even if you personally were not impacted by anything I said above, that people could be so lacking in any kind of empathy that allows them to feel for the genuine pain of another.

I have always hated group projects for this reason. Group projects force you to rely on others to get something done, and part of that is knowing that there will be parts of your final grade that will not reflect the standard of your own work, but the standard of someone else’s. We may believe that we live in an individualistic society, where our own actions stand alone, but that is a fallacy. Because if a butterfly can flap its wings and trigger an event across an ocean, then so can you.

Refusal to wear a mask, however annoying, irritating, frustrating it may be, is no where near as bad as being responsible for the death of others, loved ones or not. Being vaccinated may be scary, may seem irresponsible to you, but holding strong in your belief that your insubordination in the face of public crisis is brave, is quite frankly, bullshit.

Because If you can read everything that I have just said, and still think that you retain the right to endanger others over a piece of cloth on your face, that you do not owe it to your fellow man to take a small step to making the world slightly safer, then it is not individualism that you are portraying, but a deep sense of selfishness.

I’m not mincing my words because I think that all of the things I have said here are connected. Nothing that happens is random, whether you have a belief in God or a higher power or not. To me, at least, the message couldn’t be clearer: we need to be doing better. Better to each other, better for ourselves and better to the earth.

— Liora

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To Date Yourself

I used to be so good at taking myself on dates. In my second year living in Israel, I would spend afternoons sitting in cafes reading or painting or writing or just watching people go by. I would walk up and down different streets and sit contentedly on park benches feeling happy and like my own company was enough.

And then the hustle and bustle of New York City life became my new normal and moments of solitude became rare amongst the never-ending stream of consciousness internal and external that I became inundated with. Hanging out with friends and being busy, work and school and errands are all really important parts of life.

But just as important, is learning how to spend time with yourself. How to switch off from the non-stop stream of activity and to take yourself on a date. I am trying to learn how to reduce my stress levels, or my stress related coping mechanisms (because the current ones clearly are not working!)

So I am re-learning how to take myself on a date, to spend time alone with my thoughts without trying to drown them out like so many of us so frequently do. The overstimulation offered to us through multi-media consumption which basically never stops provides very little incentive to just be alone, truly alone. Not in a terrifying, isolating way, but in an introspective, moments of peace way.

I don’t think that you have to do something that necessarily costs money, or that is expensive. It can be as simple as grabbing a cup of coffee and siting in a cafe to read or write or listen to music. Or it can be a walk through a park, a trip to a view point, going to a book shop or museum or monument. Just finding pockets of peace in places that you enjoy by yourself, learning to love your own company again. And not being afraid to be alone. Being alone doesn’t have to mean being lonely. As many people know, you can be in a room of people, but still feel lonely. It is the type of company that you keep, not the amount.

With anything balance is key. But for me, I realized that I have spent so little time with myself in the last few years. So little time focusing my energy on engaging with things that I enjoy doing alone. Productive things but not things that necessarily force me to expend a lot of energy. Things that refuel not things that require refilling from. Thats the key, or at least I think it is.

And that’s not to say I’m not an introspective person or a deep-thinker, because I am. I have a good self-awareness. But in order to work on my stress I understand that I have to do things that actually make me happy, that actively reduce my stress rather than just keep it at bay. Walking, swimming, running, spending time alone, free of the constant need to be overstimulated so not to fall prey to wondering what it is I am doing.

Existing in a moment that simply has a beginning and end, can feel scary. or impossible. I know for me, the realization that I have to actively work to change the way I process and handle stress feels laughable in its enormity of a task. My stress responses feel built in, inevitable and honestly, inescapable. But I know that isn’t true. It’s time to rewrite the pathways, to engage in slow, meticulous work that is going to feel frustrating and pointless. But it won’t be. Not with the end goal as my physical and mental health.

All of this to say that we should be taking ourselves on dates. Knowing ourselves as intimately as we would wish someone else would know us. Treat yourself with the same respect and kindness that you would someone who you love. Learn yourself, spend time with yourself. Embrace the silence and the confusion in the beginning. It’s worth it.

I would love to sit alone in the park or in a cafe and be so fully immersed in myself that I don’t feel alone, or feel the need to let my brain wonder to all the things I need to do and all the places I could be. I enjoy my own company and I enjoy the feeling of knowing that I can have a good time by myself, as much as I can with my friends.

It is not the fear of spending time alone I often think that makes us afraid to appear lonely. It is the fear of what it might look like to other people. So romanticize it. Romanticize yourself and your life. Lean into the desire to date yourself. It’s worth it. At least I think it will be.

— Liora

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To begin again

I have always spent the night before the first day of school lying in bed, anxious about what is to come. It doesn’t seem to matter if I am staying in the same place and simply going into the next grade, or if it’s a huge life change like high school to college, the night before the first day for me is a very anxious affair.

So inevitably, the night before starting law school will follow the same pattern. I have spoken extensively about success and failure and trying again in previous posts. But the truth is, no matter how many times I say it, starting law school doesn’t feel real.

Doubt creeps in and imposter syndrome takes hold before I can even gather my logic to counteract the emotion.

Objectively, if we fight hard, if we work and do and create. If we keep going. There is no reason why what is offered to us isn’t deserved. So when I ask myself again why it is I feel a sense of doom and like an imposter when starting law school I think it’s because it’s so hard for me to believe.

I don’t really have a romantic story about how I got to law. I didn’t imagine myself as a lawyer as a child. It hasn’t been my life’s dream to go to law school. In fact, for me, going to law school was borne out of the desire to approach a career in advocacy from the strongest background possible. But law school itself was a crazy joke of an idea that was sort of discussed last year as a contender against other options.

There are those that always know what it is that they want to do. Those who are born with an innate sense of direction. But they are few and far between. Because most of us stress and stumble and contemplate over and over again about what to do and who to be.

And it can be very stressful when you’re trying to figure it out, especially when the future calls and you don’t know what to say when you pick up.

But there is also freedom in embracing not knowing.

I do know now, I know that I want to be an advocate. I also know I want to be a writer, a mother, a friend, a human being.

You are not an imposter because you are doing something that you just discovered you love. And you are not imposter if you are doing something you aren’t sure you even like. It’s your path, and if you’re doing it then you belong there.

The struggle to believe that you are deserving of the good in the life you are living is rooted in poor self esteem.

When I start school in a few weeks and I spend the night before anxious with first day of school jitters, I will challenge myself to remember that while law school may feel wild to me, it is what I have chosen and I am good enough to be doing it.

Life is full of metaphors about paths. The road less travelled or the straight and narrow. The high road and the fork in the road. So many phrases to express the same thing. But the truth is that life is not a path. It is a wide open expanse. Full of anything and everything. Some people need a path and others don’t. Some know where they are walking and others don’t. And both are good.

But whatever it is that you’ve decided on, challenge yourself to remember that you deserve it.

—Liora

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Resources

Struggle is part of life. It just is. But in my own experience, and from what I know of others, the hardest part of struggle is the part when you come to realize that you need help, but cannot find any.

The period of time when you are mentally or physically sick without knowing or without understanding the extent, is painful. But it is blissful ignorance compared to knowing that you have an issue but not being able to get the help that you need.

It is my strongest belief that everyone deserves access to help and resources as a basic part of being alive. In reality however, resources can be nearly impossible to locate and when you are in a place where the most simple tasks are feeling impossible, it can just feel like an unsurmountable mountain to climb.

So I wanted to do something to help. Because I have spoken to so many of my friends who have faced a similar thing – the exhausting, endless and fruitless search for the help they know they need. Resources should not be available by chance to those who are lucky enough or persistent enough to find them.

So I have compiled here a list of resources that I have heard of and have researched. Some free, some not. Please share this information with everyone you know. You never know who needs what, and who is unable to ask or is too afraid to say it out loud. I hope this helps.

One of the best resources I have heard of is Relief. Relief is essentially an organization that will put you in touch with therapists, doctors, psychiatrists, treatment programs and options. It is a free service. In order to use it you need to call them, and they will arrange for a case worker to call you back. The case worker will then talk to you in order to figure out the kind of help that you need. You can describe your situation, your financial restraints, your personal needs and they will best match you to whatever you need. As far as I am aware, Relief is also able to provide some sort of financial support. So don’t be afraid to ask for it.

The link for their website is: https://www.reliefhelp.org Phone number differs depending on the area. (It is on the website under the Contact page). Email address is: info@reliefhelp.org

Amudim is another resource, that is similar to Relief, but more wide-reaching. Amudim does essentially what Relief does, but it provides more financial support. Amudim has offices in the United States and in Israel and case workers that work with you individually to get you the help you need.

The Amudim website can be found at this link: https://amudim.org U.S. Number is: 646-517-0222 and Email Address is: info@amudim.org

Bellevue Hospital in East Midtown of Manhattan provides Adult mental health out-patient services on a sliding scale where people have access to physical and mental health care including wellness check doctors, therapists and psychiatrists. To have access to these services you need to call up and make an intake appointment. Often they will ask for proof of bank account in order to determine how much you will be charged for out patient mental health related services. But once you do this once, you should be set.

The website is: https://www.nychealthandhospitals.org/bellevue/ . The number is: 212-562-5555

The Mount Sinai Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence (SAVI) Program. The SAVI program is a free therapy program in Manhattan. You have to call in order to have an intake session so that they can determine whether you qualify. If you qualify, you will receive free therapy and if you do not, they will often help give you other places where you can seek free or very cheap therapy.

The website is: https://www.mountsinai.org/patient-care/service-areas/community-medicine/sexual-assault-and-violence-intervention-program-savi . The number is: 212-423-2140

Noa Girls is a London based resource that predominantly provides emotional, physical and financial support to Orthodox girls. The website is: https://noagirls.co.uk The number is: 020 8731 7025 and the Email Address is: info@noagirls.com

I know that all of these things require phone calls to be made and emails to be sent and that in itself can just feel like too much. But I hope at least, armed with some information and the ability to get help, it will provide some sort of comfort in knowing that you have found the help you are looking for.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions. And if anyone knows of additional resources that should be added to this list, please let me know!

–Liora

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To her, it is unorthodox.

Yesterday I unashamedly watched all nine episodes of the latest Netflix series on Jews, My Unorthodox Life, which follows the life of CEO and extremely successful business woman, Julia Haart and her children in their life after what she describes as living in a community of ‘fundamentalist Judaism’.

I had many thoughts and after scrolling through social media, I found that as usual, everyone else had thoughts on it too.

So the first thing I want to say is this: just because someone else’s experience does not reflect your own, doesn’t mean that it is any less valid.

Haart’s obvious deep rooted trauma and unhappiness, which she ascribes to the experiences she had while living in the ultra orthodox community are her own. And the trauma that she has shouldn’t be disputed on the grounds that it doesn’t reflect your own experience. For the record, it doesn’t reflect my own experience either.

There were several things I felt uncomfortable with. Namely, the overwhelming rhetoric that being religious is toxic. And that people who are in these communities exist without education, culture, and the ability to exercise free will and independence of thought.

Without doubt, there are elements of extreme sects where this description matches the experience. But it hurt to see the entirety of Orthodox Judaism and it’s beautiful and meaningful practices being painted over with the same tar brush.

In watching the whole thing and reading so many different reactions I recognised the hurt on both sides. It is not for anyone to tell Haart or her children how to tell her story.

However, it often feels that anti-religious sensationalism is what drives the press. And it can be exhausting to only ever see the most ugly parts of peoples experiences, those that often make a better story.

People trying to expose Haart as who she was before are doing a disservice to the struggle that she went through. The person you knew, or the person you thought you knew may have looked, seemed, talked or acted in a way that doesn’t reflect what she describes in the show. But that’s ok because you are not privy to the inner thoughts and emotions of anyone else. And nor would you want to be.

The overall portrayal of an orthodox lifestyle was negative and was painful. The insistence that her son should engage in the secular world instead of the religious world was one part of the series that made me uncomfortable and there were many other scenes and events that took place that I disagreed with as a person, nothing to do with religion.

For me and many others, the religious and secular worlds are not mutually exclusive. One has to do with value and practice and the other we then take and apply to secular things. I am an Orthodox Jew and a woman, a college graduate, a law school student, a participant in culture and everything life has to offer.

Trauma is painful and Haart’s story, more than anything else, demonstrated that.

There are without doubt thousands of people who have left orthodoxy for a plethora of reasons. Some extreme, and some not. Because religion and peoples relationship with religion is a very nuanced personal thing.

And there are also thousands of people who have remained or joined Orthodox Judaism and do not find it restrictive or suffocating. I am empowered by my choices and by my religion. And I express this unapologetically.

But I also understand that my experience does not and cannot reflect anyone else’s. If you watch My Unorthodox Life and wonder why it doesn’t reflect your experiences, that’s on you. Not on Julia Haart and her family. And if you’re angry that Orthodox Jews don’t get more positive media cover, then go out into the world and be the best Jew you can be, the best person you can be. We cannot control the global narrative, but we can control our own actions. So focus on that.

— Liora

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There can be no excuse for abuse

I sat watching the England v. Italy match tonight with the same bated breath as everyone in the nation. And while I was captivated by the match I could not stop my mind from drifting to the same thing.

The rates of domestic violence increase by 38% when England lose the football. A win for England may save the lives of vulnerable men, women and children who are subjected to domestic violence. And a loss, may have a much bigger price than an Englishman’s dignity.

I was greatly disturbed by this information for so many reasons. But the main thing I kept coming back to is why are we allowing the football to be an excuse for domestic violence.

Because violence in any form against men, women or children regardless of its cause is completely unacceptable. Domestic violence is deadly, traumatising and has a life-long and wide-reaching impact.

The thing about domestic violence is that it can appear in many forms, but there is a common denominator in many cases which is that the perpetrator does not take responsibility for their actions. It is repetitive in nature and usually follows a cycle. Periods of quiet followed by an incident which is followed by a brief apologetic window and the cycle repeats and repeats. Over and over again.

All over the news and social media I have read and listened to people talk about the danger of England losing. The fits of rage that drunken men come home in which leads to outbursts of senseless violence. Women and children repeatedly used as punching bags. Physical, verbal, psychological or sexual. Over and over again.

I think the reason I found this so jarring was because it feels like to me that the football was being used as a way to explain the violence. But very few people seemed to manage to go the necessary step further and actually speak on ways that we should be protecting these women and children.

And crucially, how we need to be holding the abusers accountable for their behaviour. Because any domestic violence victim will tell you that if it wasn’t the football, it would be something else.

Abusers don’t wait for football. But they will happily use it as an excuse to justify their behaviour. To prevent themselves from taking responsibility. To provide the perfect cover story for violence.

And if we hand these excuses to them, if we don’t take the necessary actions to help women and children. And condemn this violence, then we are being complacent in the face of the possibility of an avoidable death.

It is not an excuse. Nothing is. There is literally not a single excuse that can or will ever justify domestic violence. And you cannot convince me otherwise.

These men, women and children deserve better. They deserve actual help. Not excuses handed to their abusers on a silver platter. And we are in the position to help them. More than you realise.

Be on alert. Make help accessible. We have to do better. Much better.

— Liora

England:
National Domestic Abuse Helpline:
0808 2000 247 or email helpline@refuge.org.uk. Emergency services: 999

United States: the hotline.org 1.800.799.7233 Emergency services: 911

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You chose

TW: discussion of mental health and recovery

There is a tiktok trend (and take it with a pinch of salt or whatever the saying is) where people are showing what saved them at their lowest. And it’s mostly a joke in that people show their favourite food or drink or something. But the undertone is still there. Millions of people have at some time or another hit Rock bottom, in whatever form that takes.

The idea of someone saving you has been romanticised. Most people believe that it was not through their own actions that they have recovered or are recovering, but rather someone else who pulled them out of it.

This is in no way to say that support systems are real and valid and extremely important. But I wanted to focus on something else for a moment.

There are many things in this life that we do not chose. But they have a real impact on the way our lives play out. For both the good and bad. Don’t get me wrong, I am the biggest proponent of taking responsibility for your actions and for not blaming anyone else for what you have created or what has happened to you.

But part of that is understanding that we do not exist separate from other people. In fact, human beings are known to need social interaction, community, security in others. And so, when one of our basic needs relies on other people, we open ourselves up to being hurt by their hurt. Hurt by the hurt that they have not yet healed.

But what do we do when we hit that rock bottom and where do we go when there doesn’t seem to be a way out?

We don’t exist without support. But ultimately there is only one person in your life making the choices. And you should own and celebrate that.

You chose life. You chose recovery. You chose to get out of bed in the morning and do it all over again because you chose not to consider the alternative.

Someone else may have handed you the tools and helped you along the way but the only person that ever made the decision to actively get better was you.

Even when it doesn’t look how you thought it would look. Even if you didn’t literally make it out of bed today. Even if you didn’t quite manage to do any of the things you know you should. It ebbs and it flows.

Even if in the moment it wasn’t for yourself. Even if you kept going to avoid causing others pain. Whatever you needed to hear you told yourself and you kept going day in, day out.

And I say this because not enough people are told how proud they should be of themselves and how far they have come. And because it’s an uncomfortable thing to acknowledge.

But one in four people in the world have a mental health disorder. And every single person has at least one thing keeping them down. But not everyone is able to pull themselves up again.

It can take days or weeks, months or years but you have kept putting one foot in front of the other. Progress isn’t linear. Recovery doesn’t look like one straight line going all the way up. But that doesn’t mean that you aren’t making the choice to continue every day.

So for whatever it does or doesn’t mean, I’m proud of you. I see you choosing life for all that it means. How hard you’re working and how relentless the fight is. And I respect the hell out of you.

— Liora

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Have you thought about how you can lower your stress?

Some of my least favourite words in the world. Have you thought about how you can lower your stress? This is the first and most inevitable question that I am asked whenever I see a doctor. You have anxiety and fibromyalgia and IBS… have you thought about how to lower your stress?

It seems to me like if I had, then I wouldn’t be here. And I’m pretty certain that anyone who has heard these words or words to this effect has thought or replied the same thing.

If it was possible for me to do that, then I would.

Unfortunately, however, I currently exist in this world as a functioning member of society. And unless it suddenly becomes legal for me to physically dispose of my stressors and/or cool for me to disregard all my responsibilities, I think you’ll just have to understand that the stress you perceive me being able to rid myself of, is here to stay.

In the last two weeks I’ve had this conversation twice with different medical professionals. And when I give my standard answer of, no not really, we enter into a bantered discussion of how that can or cannot be true.

Try going for walks, listen to music, breathing exercises, aerobic exercise, drink water or herbal tea. Mediation or mindfulness. Yoga, Pilates, have a nice bath – that should solve everything. Make more time for you. My genuinely favourite suggestion.

I think that one gets me the most because clearly, that is not an option unless, as stated above I decide to shed myself of all my earthly responsibilities.

I speak to so many people who have had the same or similar interactions. And the truth is, it’s not wrong to suggest that removing stressors would reduce stress.

It’s just that I don’t think I even know how to relax. And the more I think about it and try to carve out time and different activities with the intention of doing things to make me less stressed, I end up overthinking and get stressed anyway.

I can walk and read and take a bath, practice my breathing and do yoga and stand on my head until I see the stars. But at the end of the day even when doing any or all of these things, my brain doesn’t switch off and the things don’t go away.

And a frontal lobotomy feels a bit extreme if I’m being honest.

So I don’t know. I don’t know how to make the world stop turning so I can take a time out and be less stressed. I’m pretty sure most people don’t either.

If you figure it out, feel free to let me know!

— Liora

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And If I fail?

I could teach a class in fake it till you make it in relation to relentless positive adages about things working out.

Depending on the day and depending on the impending disaster I find myself repeating the words it’ll be okay or it’ll work out at least ten times a day.

Failure is scary. But it’s the feelings before failure that terrifies me. It’s that free falling. It’s the lack of control or the prospect of losing control knowing that it might be inevitable.

Sometimes I reframe failure by telling myself that it was meant to happen that way. And it’s true. We plan, and work hard and there are times where the end product, be it the project or relationship or whatever it is, doesn’t work out the way you had imagined. And that feels like failure.

And sometimes failure is so clear that no matter the shade of rose tinted glasses you cannot help but see it for what it is.

To admit to failure can be humbling but it can also be terrifying and embarrassing. Or liberating if we let it. Because here’s the thing: it is not the failing itself that breaks us, it is the way we frame it.

Last week I was minding my own business and all of sudden I was overcome with the thought of failing law school. I broke into a cold sweat and I started to hyperventilate and the only thing I could think of is what if I fail. I haven’t even started yet, but what if I fail? What if it’s too hard and I’m not good enough? What if my acceptance was a fluke and when I get there I won’t be able to manage or keep up? What if this was all a giant mistake? Typing this now brings a cold sweat to my temples. My hands are shaking.

I can talk the talk and walk the walk of embracing failure and overcoming a huge blow. But what if it actually happens and I can’t get back up?

There were times in my life where getting good grades has felt like the only thing I had. The thought of getting below an A sent me into a paralysing panic. Overachieving at school was my way of compensating and trying to exercise as much control over my life as circumstances would allow.

I have friends like me who similarly, cannot cope with the thought of getting below an A. And I have friends who couldn’t care a less about grades. Who think the seriousness with which I approach the idea of getting less than an A is ridiculous. And I do see their point.

It takes a lot of time to retrain your brain to see value and success in yourself in places other than in the classroom. The stress and the pressure I place on myself and the way I translate my grades into self worth is unhealthy. And I know and I see that now. And I work very hard to intercept those beliefs and work to dismantle them.

For me when I panic about failing law school it’s about that. It’s about being scared to readjust my expectations in case I cannot perform to the highest level that may or may not be attainable. School doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens in life. And more than that, how well I do at school can not and should never dictate the way I perceive myself.

And if I fail?

Well I won’t lie. I would be devastated. But I would have to pick myself up and move forward because time does not stop even when you really want it to.

But the truth is, when I allow myself to accept failure as part of life, rather than the grim reaper of success, I can acknowledge that failure doesn’t have to be the end.

It’s not failure that I am afraid of, but losing sight of what my plan is. But plans change. And so do people. And seeking for validation for success in its most arbitrary form is pointless.

Because failure doesn’t need to be avoided when it doesn’t have the connotations of disaster. When I started to reframe failure as a viable option rather than the black hole with the potential to ruin everything, I put myself in a position where the crippling panic and anxiety has less power.

I won’t confess to embracing failure with open arms as though it was my plan all along. But I will say this: when I accepted failure as part of life I recognised that if the worst I imagined did happen, if I did fail, it would also be ok. I wouldn’t shatter into a million pieces because I am resilient. As humans we are resilient by nature we just sometimes have to dig deep.

So when I write now, and if I fail?

I know that it will be ok. I will survive it and overcome it. And you will too.

— Liora

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