It was last August when I began floating the idea of chopping my hair off to my friends. And dyeing it platinum blonde. And perming it. And then shaving the right side.
Changing my hair was the knee-jerk reaction I had to heartbreak, but at the advice of my friends, I didn’t go through with it — I applied to law school instead.
The path to lawyerdom isn’t supposed to be anything like “Legally Blonde,” but in the case of this brunette, a lot of things ended up playing out that way. And just like Elle Woods, I also started my journey by getting dumped by a guy who didn’t see a place for me in his new Ivy League life.
In September, I would’ve done anything to win back my own personal Warner, but I knew my options were limited if I wanted to make my way to the opposite coast. I needed a way to expand my postgraduate possibilities, and so I turned toward law school.
If you’re the law school admissions guy who let me into your school, don’t get me wrong. The values, ambitions and passions I spoke about in my personal statement are absolutely true — it’s just that the impetus for putting all these things together happened to be a dark-haired longboarder who listened to The All-American Rejects and tweeted about Dungeons & Dragons like it was his part-time job.
And if you’re someone who’s judging me for allowing my postgrad plans to be rewritten because I missed having a man call me “bb,” then I call upon a corny-but-true lyric from “Legally Blonde: The Musical” that Elle sings when she’s met with the same sort of judgement: “Don’t think that I’m naive / Because even a person who’s smart / Can listen to their heart.”
In the musical version, Elle sings about her commitment to winning back her true love, all while fraternity brother Grandmaster Chad sings a Jamaican-style riff, in which he’s asking Elle just what she’s trying to prove — and to whom. And it’s true, for both Elle and myself, that this was as much about being physically reunited with people as it was about proving they shouldn’t have let us go in the first place. But Elle doesn’t listen (and neither did I). Instead, she hunches over her LSAT books and walks away with a stellar score. For the first time, she realizes that her plan might actually have a shot.
“Legally Blonde: The Musical” includes a number called “So Much Better.” It opens with Elle crestfallen; she’s realizing that despite all her patience, and despite turning her world completely upside down, Warner has moved on with someone else.
It’s pretty heartbreaking to watch Elle feel this dejected after accomplishing so much — that is, until she sees her name up on Callahan’s list of interns. That’s when the music changes.
The number explodes into a jubilant dance-filled moment of triumph. Elle feels validated as a law student for the first time, and she makes a critical realization: She may have initially set her sights on law school for the wrong reasons, but there’s no doubt that it’s exactly where she should be.
I underwent a similar emotional arc when it began to appear that my ex-boyfriend had found a new piece of penne with whom to put the noodle in canoodle. Two important things happened to me that day: One, feeling dramatic, I put a deposit down on a tattoo, and two, I got accepted into a top law school. It would be the first of many acceptance offers I’d receive, and each one that came in would feel more surreal than the last.
When I look back at my past few years of college, the people I was so determined to impress or prove wrong become blurred, and all that’s left to look at is the person I’ve built myself into. After three years, that girl is ready, for the first time, to pick herself up and run cheesily off into the sunset, but not to chase someone else, or to prove that she can — she’s running because it looks like fun.
Even if my next adventure looks a bit different from a movie, “Legally Blonde” taught me a lesson I’ll never forget, and it’s not the bend-and-snap. People might make you feel like you’re not good enough, but the best way to prove them wrong is to trust in yourself and the choices you’re making. Some paths might seem impossible at first, but give yourself time, and you’ll respond the same way Elle did when Warner expressed surprise that she had made it into Harvard Law all on her own: “What, like it’s hard?”
“Off the Beat” columns are written by Daily Cal staff members until the spring semester’s regular opinion writers have been selected. Contact the opinion desk at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter @dailycalopinion.