My nerves were frazzled, my insides a wreck. Beelining to the men’s washroom for a second time that morning, I knew I made a mistake. It was late August 1998, my first day of law school orientation, and the truth was I didn’t belong there. Law school was for smart people. People who were diligent, ambitious, and confident. Masters of the written and spoken word. Not me.

I was the exact opposite of those things. I had average intelligence, at best, and I was a procrastinator, unmotivated and apprehensive. Making matters worse, my verbal and writing skills were below average. I failed spelling in the seventh grade for a reason. I got a 340 on the verbal portion of the SAT for a reason. I failed out of college for a reason. Surely the law school’s admissions office made a mistake when they accepted my application. I should have told them to double check. No, that’s not it. I should have never applied in the first place.

The law school route was just a way for me to avoid growing up. I was good at being a slightly above average college student. So good, in fact, I stayed an extra fifth year, a.k.a. a “super senior” year. Party lots, study little. The thought of leaving school to join the professional world sent shivers through me. I couldn’t work a real job, forty or more hours a week. I could only handle part time jobs, so I had enough time and money for beer and weed. Never mind that I had zero interest in being a lawyer and that law school would put me seventy-five grand in debt. Never mind that when law school was over, I’d have to find a job as a lawyer. I ignored it all because law school was a temporary fix; it would add three years to the lifestyle I was accustomed to.

Besides, I was never going to find a job with a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Speech Communication. I was in a tricky situation. College degree in hand, I either had to find a job or go through further education in a subject that was acceptable to my father and his expectations: law school or medical school. I couldn’t get a master’s degree in Philosophy or Speech Communication. That wasn’t an option. I didn’t take the undergrad classes necessary for medical school, and I couldn’t stomach the sight of blood and guts anyways. Law school was the only logical answer, as illogical as it was.

Back in the auditorium with the other first year law students, the dean of the school spoke about what a wonderful institution we were about to call home. Not me. This place wasn’t going to be my home. This place was a ticket to another three years of avoiding adulthood. I looked around at the other two hundred individuals surrounding me and I knew the dean was talking to them. I didn’t know a single student in that building. Still, I was sure they were in law school for the right reasons. They weren’t avoiding life, like me. They were there because they were going to amount to something. They were smart, motivated, and assured. They were going to be big time lawyers. I was just delaying the inevitable and taking on a ton of debt in the process.

That night, as I sat on the train headed home, I went over the problem once again in my head only to arrive at the same conclusion. Fear of adulthood overpowered the reality that I was taking on seventy-five thousand dollars in student loans to embark on a profession I had no interest in pursuing, because it gave me three more years of play and solved the parent “what are you doing with your life” problem.

It wasn’t long before I discovered that law school didn’t allow the free time and leniency I had enjoyed with undergrad. Don’t get me wrong, I still partied as hard and as often as possible. But if I failed out, I would be in an even worse position. I wouldn’t be able to get back into school, like I did with college. I had to, at least, pass my classes. There was no way I was going to do as well as the others, but I had to keep pace.

This realization amounted to daily building blocks of stress that gathered in my heart and on my shoulders. As I struggled to keep up, it served as a perfect reminder that I was not supposed to be in law school. Other students would answer questions and participate in classes to a degree that far surpassed me. I was dumb. They were smart.

The pressure and anxiety mounted to the point where I began to experience recurring dreams that were so disturbing, so vivid, and so relentless, that I thought I was on the verge of a mental breakdown. Of these dreams, none were as striking and intense as the very first dream that I had of a man that I would soon come to know as Samuel.