Bar review for the February exam begins this month. Whether you are a December law grad, newly embarking upon full-time bar study, or find yourself working full-time and managing bar study, you will soon see the key role that friends and family play in your bar exam preparation.

It may be hard for them to conceptualize the weeks of isolated study that you must undergo. In their eyes, you are already a rock star. You may be the first in your family to earn a college degree. They watched as you seemingly breezed through a Bachelors Degree program. When they hear you say that you are afraid of failing, they think you are being modest. They cannot understand what lies ahead for you.

If a member of your distant or inner-circle (e.g. parent, boss, spouse, cousin, roommate, co-worker, etc.) has already passed the bar exam, you are forever measured through the examining lenses of their experiences, and not your own. As you submit your request for time off for bar study, you are met with tales of the days of old where your boss-coworker-nemesis passed the bar while working full-time and walking uphill both ways. As you ask would be benefactors to line your Christmas stocking with money to pay for bar tutoring and supplemental bar prep, you must stomach stories of dismissive assurance that “ Course X is really all you need”, and “you’re smart, you don’t need all that other stuff.”

Although well-intentioned, your loved ones cannot possibly be as invested in your bar preparation as you are. It is not callous to drown out their unsupportive anecdotes. Release yourself to recognize that they are concerned about your bar exam success, but they cannot comprehend the level of self-sacrifice, humility, uncertainty, anger, fear, and frustration that it takes to pass the bar exam. During bar study, the greatest exercise of self-care may be to build a healthy distance between yourself and those who do not understand the task you face. Send a bar study letter to your loved ones to help them support you when you need it most.