I Didn’t Pass the Bar Exam. But It’s Just Part of My Michelle Obama Phase.

[Featured image by Simon David/DFID via Flickr/Creative Commons]

By Mashayla Hays, Esq., If/When/How Reproductive Justice Fellow at New Voices/Women’s Law Project

Mashayla Hays

I suck at standardized tests. I am a Black woman holding a J.D. who couldn’t score higher than a 19 on the ACT, and we won’t even discuss my LSAT scores. I think I took the ACT four times, the LSAT three times. And I had to take yet another test in order to be a licensed attorney: the bar exam.

Sometimes life is all about perseverance.

I studied my #$% off for two months straight. I went into that exam with my daily devotions, listening to Mary Mary songs and just knew God was going to bring me to victory, just like he had every time before this. After all, the odds have been against me on making it this far since I received that first ACT score … and guess what? I didn’t pass.

I felt that I had let everyone down, including myself, because I didn’t pass the most important test of my legal career. I let out one of those ugly cries in the bathroom at work. I even texted some of my closest friends that I didn’t want to be a lawyer anymore. I was utterly discouraged and tired of feeling like I had to prove myself for each new door that I wanted opened. While I am currently working for the most amazing fellowship program, when I got my results, I became my worst enemy. All I could see was me, jobless, living with my mom, all because I didn’t pass the bar exam the first time.

The journey toward your dreams wasn’t necessarily meant to be easy.

But in all honesty, I just needed to look at my Michelle Obama phase in a different light. That’s right, I said Michelle Obama, who did not pass the bar exam the first time. Go ahead, take a second to gather your thoughts. I was just as surprised as you when I found out, too. But she tapped into her inner Aaliyah and tried again, and look at her success now. And if you can, imagine what life would be like if she hadn’t.

This is something we can all relate to. We don’t always get what we want the first time we try for things. The weeks after I got my bar results were up and down, but I realized I was due for another spiritual breakthrough. I believe God uses the struggles we face as stepping stones, so as much as it hurts me to say, I’m thankful I didn’t pass the bar the first time. God has decided it’s time for me to grow in him more, and is using this moment in my life to do so.

We don’t always get what we want the first time we try for things. The weeks after I got my bar results were up and down.

I’m taking the bar exam again this month, and in the meantime I’ve taken intentional steps to spend more time growing spiritually and embracing this Michelle Obama Phase. The journey toward your dreams wasn’t necessarily meant to be easy. There will be blocks in the road, and really hard days, but always have faith.

After all, Michelle Obama did it, so can we!

UPDATE: Mashayla Hays, Esq. went on to pass the bar in July, 2019. Congratulations, Mashayla!

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