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Gradenfreude: Living Life By Fortune Cookies — Bad Idea Or Worst Idea?

Ed. note: Gradenfreude is a new series chronicling a recent law school graduate’s life after attending an unranked school. Feel free to email the author at, and he’ll respond ASAP. After all, it’s not like he has anything better to do.

Whoever said, “No news is good news,” obviously wasn’t dealing with trying to find a legal job in this economy. I really wish that there was anything remotely resembling news to report on my legal aspirations, but the only thing that I’ve accomplished is mastering drinking my worries away.

This experience has made me realize that when you’re constantly trying to get something that you really want, but not having success, it’s easy to begin to doubt yourself and your abilities. Then, as a result, it’s possible that you may lower your expectations because the fear of failure takes over. But what can be really interesting is how the little things in life can change your expectations.

I’ve always been a superstitious person, and along with that, I believe that the world often gives you signs. Okay, I bet you think that sounds dumb. Well, what makes it worse is that I take my signs from fortune cookies. Before going to law school, I got a fortune cookie that said, “You are about to begin a prosperous business venture.” CHA-CHING!!! What else could you possibly need to know before taking on colossal debt?

A fortune cookie would never steer me wrong, would it?

Anyway, nothing beats a little bit of encouragement before heading off to three years of self-inflicted torture. So I went to law school, and you know where the story goes from there. During school, I still thought for sure that my fortune was going to come true, at least at some point in my life. And then I began stocking shelves to pay my bills. With my confidence at an all-time low, I had given up on my hopes of having the fortune actually become accurate.

But the other day at my crappy job, I ordered Chinese food with some of my coworkers, and my faith in that little after-dinner treat was restored. After eating my meal, I decided to crack open the cookie and got a glimmer of hope when it read, “What is temporary has to be temporary. Don’t let it last longer than a year.” Now, while that may be more of a command or guidance than a fortune, it was just the pick-me-up that I needed at the time. I took this to be a sign that I will be able to find something better for myself in the next year. I just need to be ready when it comes along.

With this new fortune, I had a new outlook and a renewed spirit. That little, somewhat crappy excuse for a dessert, gave me the faith — or better yet, encouragement — to make something of myself one way or another. I would continue to scour the internet for jobs. I would continue to pimp myself out to anyone that I have any connection to that may be able to help me land a job doing something that requires me to use some portion of my brain on a daily basis. I would ensure that both of my fortunes came true.

But how often do you read (or want to read) anything uplifting on Above the Law? When I was making good on my commitment this past weekend, I got hungry, but was too lazy to make anything myself, and too poor to order anything that actually has any nutritional value. So, using my trusty coupons, I ordered Chinese food again. This time, my fortune said, “You are in over your head. It’s time to seek professional help.”


When not writing about life after law school for Above the Law, Tristan Taylor Thomas (not his real name) works at a retail job stocking shelves — which he admits is slightly better than being a shoeshiner. You can reach him by email at

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