M Y H A P P I N E S S J O U R N E Y
In case you’re interested in how I went from an uncertain, anxiety-ridden baby lawyer to the happy relatively well-adjusted lawyer you see before you today. Here’s the short version.
My career began at a BigLaw firm in New York. I was a newlywed. Dave and I were living in a tiny two bedroom brownstone in Brooklyn. All was going according to plan. You know the one. The carefully crafted plan that I had been executing since I decided I was going to be a lawyer. I was your typical over-achiever. I was hyper-focused on checking milestones off my list and collecting accomplishments along the way.
To be honest, I was surprised by how much I liked the people I worked with (after all, it was BigLaw in New York!)—genuinely enjoyed their presence – and the sense of accomplishment I felt from successfully navigating this next stage of my life.
Unfortunately that feeling of accomplishment didn’t hide that nagging feeling that I had telling me I wasn’t quite there yet. I wanted more.
I knew I wanted a family but should wait until I was “ready”.
I wanted more adventure in my life but I knew I should be responsible.
I wanted to enjoy life NOW but I thought I should buckle down and sacrifice.
LIKE MANY OF YOU, I LED MY LIFE ACCORDING TO WHAT I FELT I “SHOULD” BE DOING.
So there I was with over $200,000 in student loans, a few law degrees in hand, “should-ing” all over myself.
On paper my life had all the dressings of success: the hunky husband, the Brooklyn brownstone, the prestigious job, the six-figure salary and work that was intellectually challenging. I was showing up every day, working hard, enjoying my colleagues, but . . . I wasn’t happy.
I started to research feverishly. I wanted to find the formula for a happy life. I decided I needed to change the way I practiced law before it changed me.
Honoring and listening to my inner voice changed everything for me. I realized one of the most important things you can do in your life is learn to honor that inner voice. That whisper that tells you the truth about what you really want in your life.
We all have an inner voice, intuition, gut feeling, whatever you want to call it. It is your truth. You can’t go wrong once you learn how to hear it and have the courage to listen.
P.S. Here’s my professional bio, if you’re into that sort of thing:
In 2011, Okeoma graduated from Columbia University School of Law with her J.D. and an LL.M. in International Criminal Law from the University of Amsterdam. Upon graduation she joined the Global Securities group at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, LLP working in both their New York and Singapore offices. She later lateralled to Baker Botts LLP before landing her current position as in-house counsel at an aviation company based in Dallas.
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