The Rumor Mill

Nikita Salehi
Class of 2018

Like most of my classmates, first semester of 1L year was a strange period of time for me. Between trying to comprehend Procedural Analysis, creating class outlines, and keeping up with class readings, first semester was like learning a new language. My personal experiences during first semester were even stranger, however, for different reasons.

As a recent UCSB graduate coming straight through to law school with no gap period in between, I was excited to be here and yet deeply nostalgic of the life I had a few months prior. Never had I felt so overwhelmed and so lost in classes before, and I found myself quickly searching for things that made me feel like I was still twenty-two years old and not yet an old fart. I went out to Newport and Huntington Beach on the weekends and vowed to not talk about the “L” word (law school) at all on those nights. I also briefly dated someone whose frequent ignorance and disrespect for women I ignored simply because he reminded me of my college years. Needless to say, I was not acting like my normal self. I was allowing the intimidation of law school to let me forget why I was there in the first place, and it made me want to focus on anything but school.

Shortly after midterms ended, I was able to understand what my classes were requiring of me and realized that school was not as difficult as I was making it for myself. I quickly made a promise to myself that I would stop purposely distracting myself and start conquering my goals head-on. I cut out toxic people and habits and turned my perspective towards school into a positive one. Law was what I was born to do, after all. Everything was going relatively smoothly and I was back on track. That is, until I heard a disappointing and outright ridiculous rumor about myself.

It was mainly just deeply disappointing to hear because of the fact that the source of the rumor came from the very community that I was so excited to be a part of up until that point. I felt betrayed by people I was so sure I could count on as mentors. The statement that worried me the most came from people who did not know I was the subject of the rumor, but who pointed their fingers at me because I wear rompers all the time and, according to them, “would do such a thing.”

I had to learn to stop caring what people thought about me fast because of the fact that many people who did pass judgment about me and verbalized it when I would walk onto campus were distracting. But mainly, I was determined to stop caring because I made a pact to use my success as a way of showing what I am made of. In the process of doing so, I have learned/embraced three good habits that I plan on passing on to my friends, as well as to the first year class this coming fall:

1) Spread positive comments. If I ever see anyone engaging in a kind act, whether it is towards me or not, I will let as many people as a can know about the person and what they did for someone else. Our days are too long and stressful, and the world is harsh enough as it is, without us being mean-hearted to one another.

2) Never explain yourself to anyone, whether they have a misconception about you or not. If it is one thing that all the hate and negativity surrounding my situation taught me, it’s that my true friends will never leave my side no matter what is said about me. A mature person only judges someone based on the way that person acts towards them and towards other people. Anyone who judges based on other criteria, such as third-party opinions, gossip, or mere appearances isn’t a person of substance to begin with.

3) Let success be your response to negativity. This last tip was given to me by my mother, the original feminist in my family, who was my biggest supporter during the rough month. Not only did she provide me with the support and love I needed in order to get through first semester, but she gave me the reality check I needed whenever I started to let extraneous things get to me. And as always, my mom is right. Success feels great and is a much better use of one’s time.

I should also say that I never viewed what happened to me as a negation of all the kind, intelligent, and inspiring humans that I am lucky enough to call my classmates, especially the close friends I’ve made since coming here. I am writing this as a way of stating that we can do better. Feminism isn’t always about simply posting a Facebook link to poems written by Audre Lorde during intersectional feminism week, but it is about living by the feminist ideology and conveying it through one’s actions in one’s day-to-day life. It is about choosing to not pass judgment or not justifying someone’s degradation because of what they wear. Even if I feel like I have been the greatest that I can personally be in terms of fulfilling my own goals, I think I can always, always be better, and I can always learn from so many badass feminists, including my mom. So cheers to that.

Oh, and I will still be wearing rompers along the way.