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A breakup at the worst time

I (he/him, 24m) had been dating my girlfriend (24f), for 8 years. We had been together since high school and had planned on getting married soon. We held off because I was in law school and she was moving away to go to veterinary school. A few months ago she was having doubts while away at school, but I flew down and things seemed okay afterwards. Last month she broke up with me, seemingly out of nowhere. There has been no animosity, but the words she says hurt just the same. She broke up with me 3 days before I was set to graduate law school and one day before a job interview I was set to have. We’ve tried talking but she is sending mixed signals, but my impression is she just doesn’t think I’m worth the stress. Being a vet means more to her than being in a relationship with anyone, and that’s her words. Before we broke up it never bothered me because I supported her dreams, but I never thought it would come to this. Now I’m trying to study for the bar exam (administered in September but prep courses last usually 10 weeks, longer now because of COVID delaying the exam), but I can barely do a thing. I’m unable to get out of bed some days, I’m losing weight because I’m not eating, I’m nauseous and puking, and now I just feel alone. My family has never been a reliable support system and my friends don’t understand. I have a few people I can confide in, but they only can be available at limited times. I’m really in need of people who can held me find some self-worth and motivation to push on. Being a lawyer has never been my dream job, as awfully privileged as it may sound, and my girlfriend was the one who supported me through it all. I’m studying for the hardest test (supposed to be minimum 5 hours a day), and for my job I’m going to need to move into the area (~1 hour from where I live now), I need a new car. I feel so overwhelmed with change and the demands of life, and my girlfriend has been the one to support me through things. Now I feel so alone and unsupported, and I have no idea how to make it through this.

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I am so sorry to hear she dumped you for seemingly no reason and continues sending mixed signals. I’ve been there, and it’s devastating. Her timing is awful. But in all this chaos, look to what you can control. You can’t control what she does; you can’t necessarily control your body’s responses to the grief; you can’t control the interminable countdown to the bar exam; but you can control how you handle the grief that’s eating you alive.

Reaching out here was a big first step. Next, I’d recommend seeing a counselor who can help you unpack and organize everything on your mind and figure out what to do with it. Now I’m going to ask a hard question that you need to answer honestly for yourself: do you really want to go through with being a lawyer? You said it wasn’t a dream job; but is it something you still want to do, or something you feel obligated to do because you finished law school? Whether it’s something you want to do or something you’re not sure of, can you take a gap year before you take the bar exam?

My man, you are at a very interesting crossroads,and your next choices could change your life in ways you never imagined. My sister’s ex dumped her right after she graduated college and just before she moved to DC for a professional internship. At the time they were talking marriage, and she was planning to go to DC for 3 months and come back, but when she left it was more in the spirit of getting away than leaving for a little bit. As luck would have it, she was embraced by a really close-knit group of friends and swept away. 2 months in, she decided she loved it and wanted to stay, but for that to happen she had to get a real job. Her first professional job was a job most people in her field would have killed to retire in. She stayed in DC for 7 years, during which time she met her now-husband (who is way better than the last guy), and they’re currently plotting their next moves from a really cute rowhouse. Gross, right? All that to say, you are at a point where you’re not stuck in any ruts, and you can take your life wherever you want to.

Pursuing a law license when you don’t really want to, just because you got your law degree, is Sunk Cost Fallacy. That’s the idea that you’re in so deep you should keep going. But it’s not true. You CAN stop if you want to, and you can do anything you want to. a graduate degree in anything can open a lot of doors. A law degree could make you a hell of a consultant, or the business operations guy of any company you choose, or really anything where there’s a lot of reading comprehension and logic involved; but you don’t even have to any of that. I once went out with a licensed psychologist, and she said that after 9 years in school, so much time interning, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, if she could go back and do it all again she’d open a yoga studio on the beach. Don’t think you’re stuck with the career you chose, or you’ll be really unhappy in a few years. The world is your oyster, you have nothing holding you down, and you can do anything you want to, including practicing law!

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Being a lawyer is certainly not my dream job, but I will enjoy a lot of it. I’ve taken huge steps in advancing animal rights, a passion my ex-girlfriend had helped me find, and I’ve become passionate about domestic violence and special victims cases. A gap year is not normal and I haven’t heard of people delaying taking the exam because of the sheer volume of knowledge it requires. This isn’t as much of a sunk cost as it is I know I can’t follow my true dream job. I wanted nothing more than to be an air force pilot, but was turned away by recruiters in high school for underlying health conditions. This lets me feel like I’m filling some public service still, it’s just not the same.

I’m hoping moving helps, but I fear it will lead to insufferable isolation. My job will be in a small county, where you’re normally working from home and only come into the office a few times a week. Court is at night in these places, so it won’t leave much time for social interaction. I originally only even applied because I had thought my ex-girlfriend would eventually move in. I still think the opportunity is good in terms of experience, but the circumstances have changed significantly.

I actually have reached out to a counselor, I did it the morning after and we have spoken a few times. She’s given me some techniques like getting out of the house or focusing on other things, but they aren’t a substitute for the support I’m looking for. My older sister essentially had the same thing happen to her, right when she graduated law school, and it really messed her up. In a way I feel cursed, and she has been of 0 help. She hasn’t asked me about anything once. I appreciate your honesty about the experience of a close one. When people on Facebook saw, I heard from a lot of people that day who said they had similar experiences but life goes on. Those people are right, but only one of these people has offered genuine support. They are available only at certain points because of their job. I’m trying to expand my support system, and when I heard about heartsupport I knew this would be what I was looking for. So, again, thank you for reaching out. I think focusing on what I can control will be huge, it’s just keeping that focus is hard for now.

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