Sunday, September 9, 2012

Wisdom from Juan

While I know the wise philosophers like Aristotle, Plato, and Buddha all have some very valuable life lessons for us all, I think that the lessons I learned yesterday from Juan were just what I needed to hear.  Yesterday, I attended a Naturalization Citizenship Clinic for Latin American immigrants to gain some required pro bono hours for my legal education.  I had previously assisted with a Citizenship Clinic for Vietnamese immigrants in our area so I was familiar with the process of assisting immigrants with completing their N-400 applications for citizenship.  All of these immigrants are legal permanent residents and many have lived in this country for decades.  However, most still do not speak English very well and need assistance understanding the application process.  Interpreters are present to assist as well.  In my prior experience, I had assisted with helping immigrants determine whether they qualified for the financial waiver of the application fee.  Since I already had this knowledge and experience under my belt, I volunteered to offer my expertise in this area.  Juan was the interpreter who assisted me in this process.  When we were between "clients," Juan, a middle aged bilingual citizen of significant intelligence, offered me some of his humor and wisdom.  Seriously, the man kept me laughing!  I will forever be endeared to this stranger who I will probably never meet again as we bonded during this experience.  As I informed him of my status as a law student working full time and going to school at night while raising my boys, he just offered the most uplifting words of encouragement I have ever heard.  I told him how worried I was about my ability to successfully pass the bar exam and find suitable employment.  His first advice to me was to check for government jobs, and I assured him I would do so.  Ha!  His ultimate lesson boiled down to two sentences that he says must be said in this order:

(1) I have what it takes.
(2) It takes what I have.

He said that I should not go into the process already feeling discouraged and that I had already accomplished most of the steps of the journey and that I just needed to see the next phases as additional steps in the process.  When I look back on the things I have already accomplished on the journey (obtaining a bachelor's degree, taking the LSAT and being admitted to law school, completing years 1, 2, and 3 of law school, etc.), I should be reminded that I had what it took to complete all of those steps so I have what it takes to also complete the next steps.  He also said that I could not view those next steps as big mountains that were "impossible" to cross, but I should view them as hills just like the hills I have already crossed.  Hills I can manage; mountains I cannot!  So although it is going to take all that I have, I do have what it takes to accomplish the tasks before me.  That is very good to know and remember if you ask me!  Thank you, Juan, for your wonderful advice! - May passing the bar exam be the first step in a brilliant legal career that will be publicly shredded if you're ever nominated to the Supreme Court



  1. That is very wise. I need to remember his 2 pieces of wisdom as I face some new, challenging things this fall. Thank you for sharing it.

    1. Awww, glad his wisdom helped you too, Natasha! Hope everything works according to God's plan for you!

  2. Very good advice. And very hard to remember on days when you are feeling down about your self.

    I like the little funny at the end too. I'll have to share that with my brother.

    1. I am a little sad that I may never see Juan again. It is just nice and refreshing to meet someone who is so positive and uplifting these days. I see and hear so much negativity all around me, and I have actually had to resort to shutting out a lot of people who were just dragging me down.


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