By Kayla Wood
There are moments in one’s life that act as a catalyst for change. These moments—points in time where one’s view of the world becomes different—might be the result of events, observations, or perhaps reflection. Something must happen, whether internal or external, for one’s perspective to shift and bring clarity where there once was none.
I can recall four of these moments in my life. June 26, 2015, Obergefell v. Hodges was decided by the Supreme Court of the United States, and, for the first time, I realized the power of the judicial branch. At 18 years old, barely out of high school, I gained a new appreciation for the real and lasting impact of constitutional law. Fall 2017, I took my first sociology class. I felt a calling toward action and intervention through advocacy and non-profit work. May 4, 2018, the documentary RBG was released, giving the world a closer look at how one woman helped shape equal rights under law. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg became my hero and my idol. September 18, 2020, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. As a nation, we are mourning the passing of a champion for civil liberties. RBG was a fighter, though, and in keeping with her legacy, we must continue fighting for change, fighting to improve our country, fighting to make a difference in others’ lives.
It’s okay to take time to grieve the loss of an icon and a hero. Though I never had the opportunity to meet Justice Ginsburg, her life impacted mine deeply, and I feel the weight of her passing as I’m sure many others do, as well. When you lose your hero, whether it’s a Supreme Court Justice, a writer, a professional athlete, a musician, you’re allowed to feel sad. You’re allowed to mourn. Don’t let your grief overcome your hero’s legacy, though. Remember why they were your hero and why they held such a prominent position in your life.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg became my hero two and a half years ago. Her ideals, her tenacity, her dedication to justice and equal rights, all of these aspects of her identity drew me to her. These qualities will not die with her, though. People across the country are continuing the fight for change and the fight for equality in her name. I’m adding myself to that group of people. Her death is the most recent catalyst for change in my life. As of September 18, 2020, I began studying for the LSAT and decided I’ll be applying to law school for next fall. I’ve been planning to go to law school for two years now, but I’ve made excuses and put off applying because I was afraid. I was afraid I wouldn’t get in. I was afraid I wouldn’t be good enough for my top choice school. I was afraid I wouldn’t accomplish any of my goals if I finished school. I was afraid of failure. Fear of failure never held back RBG, though. She embraced the challenge, and she knew it wouldn’t be easy. She didn’t become known as the Notorious RBG by sitting back and waiting for something to happen. She fought for change. She fought for future generations. In her words, “Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.”
That’s how I’ll take on this coming chapter in my life: one step at a time.