By: Tori Santoro, IATG Contributor March 16, 2016
As a young woman, I often eagerly awaited the end of my formal education. I believed that real life would begin when I finished, that the rest of my life would happen! I would daydream about all of the wonderful events waiting to take place when I finally graduated. I felt that way before my high school graduation, before my college graduation, and, finally, before my law school graduation. But no one could ever help me understand that schooling was just the very beginning of my education.
One of the things I love most about my job is that every single case is different. It’s my job to learn the ins and outs of the facts and the law, and I have to have a deep understanding of the subject matter so that I can write memoranda, take depositions, and sometimes argue the case in court. I’m constantly working to expand my mind in various directions. Oddly, I know more about concrete than almost anyone outside of that industry. I know about Federal trucking guidelines. I know about the safety policies for patients in a medical facility. I even know about construction equipment and natural gas distribution.
On the surface, some of these topics seem boring, but I can attest that the effort and focus it takes to learn about these industries is anything but boring. It ends up that the things most people don’t want to hear about have a large impact on how safe, secure, comfortable, and happy all of us are in our daily lives. And, more importantly, my mind is never bored. I can never fully anticipate what’s going to come across my desk from week to week. It’s truly exciting.
This lesson extends to our everyday lives, too. Graduating college, I believed that I could handle the day to day stresses and inconveniences of life. In reality, I had no idea what 401(k)’s were and why it’s a big deal if your employer offers this benefit. I had no idea how to buy a car, let alone appropriately finance it. I still have no idea how to buy a house or secure a mortgage.
In relationships, there is always more to learn: how to communicate, how to compromise, how to be a good partner. More importantly, what you’re willing to compromise and what your personal deal-breakers are. Relationships are a constant opportunity to grow and learn and be better at loving another person.
Things become stale when we stop seeing our complete lives as opportunities for growth and learning.
My life is more likely to veer off track when I’m too comfortable or disinterested in the work it takes for constant improvement. Exercising my mind, in work, life, and love, keeps me engaged in the outcome of my own life. It makes me feel like I’m on a constant upward trajectory. This is not to say we don’t all make mistakes, sometimes very bad ones, but testing our own limits is part of the fun. I encourage you to see life as a classroom and an office, an opportunity for constant work, education, and self-improvement.
I’m lucky to appreciate the challenge and difficulty of work and life. I feel blessed to work in a job that keeps me engaged and thoughtful, constantly trying to learn something new and expand upon what I knew last month.
I hope to use this in all aspects of my life. I hope to hang onto the wonder that followed us as children, to be excited by everything that’s new, to be enlivened by the challenges in my job and in my life. Every year brings new challenges and new knowledge, which means that every year brings new wisdom and strength.
What’s something new you’ve wanted to learn? Well now’s the time! Pick up a new hobby, learn a new craft, or simply research something you’ve always been interested in!
Victoria Santoro is a trial attorney who practices law in Boston. She is also a teacher, speaker, and writer, maintaining her personal blog The Limber Lawyer, and contributing to various legal publications. Victoria is passionate about helping young girls and women not only succeed but also find contentment and purpose. In her free time, she can often be found training or competing for half-marathons and triathlons.
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