The other day, a lawyer friend and I were talking about our bar exam experiences and how absolutely stressful gearing up for the test can be. Everyone who takes this exam probably reaches a low point. Ask any lawyer, and they most likely have a sob story about when they pretty much bottomed out at their wits’ end. One of the best stories I’ve ever heard even involved a now-lawyer slumping onto the floor crying and eating peanut butter straight from the jar. . . with his hands instead of a spoon! Hey, no one said this exam was easy!
So, I asked this friend of mine what made her feel better when she was studying and she rattled off nonchalantly, “you know, kitten cuddling and stuff” (as if this were a thing everyone does). “Wait, what?” I said, “You don’t even have a cat!” Turns out not having a cat of her own didn’t stop her. When studying for the bar exam, she would go to an animal rescue shelter every now and then and cuddle the heck out of those little baby cats! And who knows? Maybe it helped. She passed after all.
On a recent trip to Japan, I noticed quite a few “pet cafes.” There were little shops you could go to and snuggle bunnies or play with cats. And, whether you agree with it or not, we’ve all heard of pet therapy ranging from comfort animals to PTSD rehabilitators for veterans. Hey, we even have cat cafes here at home in the California too. It got me to thinking—what is it about these furry creatures that people seem to think equals stress reduction for us humans, and how could it help with the bar exam?
In full disclosure, I don’t have any pets, nor did I when taking the bar. And, in what can only be described as an act of unforgivable mayhem, my roommate’s cat, “Whiz” actually did something pretty unforgivable to my stack of bar books when I was studying. No need to go into detail here, but let’s just say Whiz lived up to his name that day. And yes, in case you’re wondering, that is a 100% true story, and yes, that was her cat’s real name! It makes me laugh now looking back, but I can promise you it was anything but funny back then while in the throes of re-learning Con. Law.
So, suffice to say, I may not be the best authority on the matter of how pets can help you study for the bar exam. After all, Whiz clearly had a devious plot to make me fail at any cost—or at least make me never want to open my bar books again!
In any case, here are some potential benefits I can see for those of you who have not already been traumatized by someone’s anarchist of a pet during bar study.
When studying for the bar, it’s important to stay calm because each day can get really stressful if you let it. If petting animals is something that calms you down, by all means, go for it! If something else helps you relax, well then, go do that instead.
Forgetting for a Minute
As a bar studier, it’s easy to get wrapped up in your own pity party. “I hate studying.” “I’m going to fail.” “Why me?” Sound familiar? Sometimes, it’s really nice to just forget it all for a moment. The great thing about playing with a creature is that it can force you to stop thinking about yourself and get distracted with something cute, cuddly and disarming in a way that the TV simply is not.
That same friend I mentioned above also used to love watching funny cat videos while she was studying for the bar. I know, I know, only weird lonely old grannies like cat videos. You’re preaching to the choir. I don’t totally understand the appeal of these either. But, I promise you this friend is not a grandmother or social outcast of any kind. And, in case you were wondering, there are some potentially more hip and sometimes pretty hilarious videos out there about the “thug life” of cats, dogs, and even penguins if you’re interested. Just saying.
Unconditional Acceptance and Love
The people I know who have dogs say that no one is ever as happy to see them as their dog is. They wag their tails and get all excited. You know the drill. When studying for the bar, there will probably be moments when you feel a little down on yourself. I can see how it might be comforting to interact with a furry friend who loves you unconditionally, is always happy to see you, and never utters a word of discouragement (or any words at all for that matter).
I had a bar student once who swore that running around on the grass with her new puppy made her feel better about the world and everything in it. So I had her schedule in time every day to do just that. Sure, this sounds weird. Why put playing with your puppy on your calendar? Well, for starters, if you don’t, it might never get done. We at the Bar Exam Toolbox are big on scheduling breaks for yourself while studying. And hey, if this break involves a critter of some sort, you won’t be getting any judgment from us!
Now, I’m not saying that if you don’t have a pet you should run right out and adopt one. If you’re studying for the bar, you probably don’t have much time to think about anything extra at this point—let alone house training an animal. Maybe just focus on making sure your own needs are taken care of first. But, if you do decide to get a little minion of your own, maybe avoid getting a cat with an agenda. And by all means, keep him away from your study materials!
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Did you find this post helpful? Check out some other great articles:
- Steps to Making Your Own Bar Exam Schedule
- What Are You Waiting For? It’s Time to Study for the Bar
- What You Can Do Now to Prepare for the Bar Exam
- Can Studying Early Help You Pass the Bar Exam?
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