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By: Jamie Collins

Welcome back to the paralegal playground in honor of an impending Friday “fun” day, my friends. I don’t know about you, but I could sure use a brief respite from running the legal gauntlet as of late. So today, we’re here to give you, our faithful, incredibly awesome readers, a quick little quiz to help you determine whether or not you are, in fact, stressed out.

Are we joking?
No.

Although we do realize it is laughable to ask a paralegal to contemplate whether or not he/she is actually stressed out and/or crazy, we do admit. But keep reading. (Your diagnosis and strait jacket await.)

You MIGHT be stressed out if…

You are a paralegal.  I know it might seem ridiculous. But it’s true. We triple paralegal promise. (Unless you are some weirdo with a completely stress-free job. Does such a thing exist in the land of legal? No seriously, does it???)

You have seriously pondered entering the paralegal protection program in an effort to actually step away from that papyrus covered desk, as you flee the legal perimeter to play a fun little game called “Paralegal Evading Esquire Hide-And-Go-Seek,” so you can actually eat a few blissful calories, away from your desk, for a period of at least 30 whopping minutes to an hour without receiving a single verbal, text or e-mailed request for anything at all.  (Got that – nothing. We want to hear absolutely nothing from you during this time if you are in possession of a legal badge. Shhhhh.)  

If this is you, just flee the building. Do it now. RUN!!! Better yet, shut off your cell phone. They may have a GPS tracker on it. RUN!!! I am kidding. Slightly. Okay, not really.

Don’t stress – just RUN!

You have mentally time traveled into another day of the week. And when I say “time traveled” this is a fun little paralegal game in which find that you are living life (during any given work day, when you suddenly came to the (utterly and deeply depressing) realization that you have inadvertently been living under the incredibly false belief that it was an entirely different day of the freaking work week, other than the one it actually was/is for the remainder of the planet.  Stressed lately? All signs point to “yes.”

You leave the office at 5:00 p.m., cloaked in an invisible substance that seems to permeate straight into the core of your very soul, overtaking every part of your evening’s existence from a mental standpoint.  It’s the call left unmade.  The records left unordered.  The project left undone.  Ultimately, the world that will come crashing down in the event you decide to take an impromptu flight to Hawaii in the after-hours on a one-way ticket to umbrella drinks, a cabana, and a dream. If this is you – that substance you are cloaked in is called “stress.” We highly recommend a shower, a vacation, and an umbrella drink within the next ninety (90) days.

Did we say “days?” We actually meant “minutes.” Ready…go.

Your entire criteria for selecting each day’s attire consists entirely of a mental utterance of the following phrase (spoken in the form of a heartfelt, silent, internal plea): “What do I NOT have to iron?”  Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner, folks. If you have uttered these words at least 2 days during any given work week, you might be stressed. If you’ve uttered them on a daily basis, immediately purchase 15 “wrinkle-free” shirts from Van Heusen (…not that I would know ANYTHING about this one. And those wrinkle free shirts are only $25 a piece. Did I just say that out loud?) Moving on.

Better yet, you opt to wear a stained or slightly snagged garment to work for your 8 hour shift in the legal mines, because, quite frankly, you don’t give a darn. The darn giving has officially left the building, folks. In the fleeting moment you actually feel a slight “twinge” of caring, you make a mental note that you can actually just pretend your hair, handbag or the custom-crafted pleading of your choice will cover this hand-selected atrocity from the depths of fashion hell. “Stain? What stain? I have a stain?” (The utterance of this response is entirely stress-related.)

You + the stain = are one.

And you don’t care an iota. (But you may win an Academy Award for the most compelling portrayal of a paralegal “pretending” to discover a fashion faux pas, when you find yourself on the receiving end of a pointed finger hanging off the hand of a spot-spotting, highly-observant, “concerned” co-worker. Clear a spot on that fireplace mantel. You’re a winner.)

You arrived to the firm with no mascara on your lower eyelashes one day this week. (I can assure you this has never happened to me, and certainly not three times in the past year. No siree. I am taking the fifth.) Haven’t you heard it’s a new make-up trend? It’s called “stressed out, half arse, au nat-u-ral,” designed for the make-up impaired. You may want to consider affixing handwritten mascara application instructions to your bedroom/bathroom mirror because, clearly, the step-by-step getting ready process has evaded you.

Your are attempting to flee your office an hour early due to a recent time change – one you fail to take notice of, intentionally, unintentionally, delusionally or otherwise. After all, your computer clock or the one hanging from your wall said it was time to go. But upon driving away in your Infiniti, you come to the sudden realization that you are the only one to depart the land of the legally-walking-dead after receiving a laughing call from a highly-spirited coworker asking you where in the hell you are.

“Time change? What time change??? My car clock says it’s 5:30.”

Again, let’s go with the fifth amendment on this one. Just keep driving. (I’ve got nothing but time and stories, people.)

If you see pull into the work parking lot, observe your boss’s car sitting within it, and the first word that comes to mind, which may or may not be an expletive, and may or may not begin with the letter “f.” As in “fantastic!” or “fun!” We’ll leave the rest to your imagination, you big dreamers.

You think about work or work-related projects while taking your morning shower. In very rare occurrences, this could actually be considered thoughtful planning or organization, but for those of us who know best, we’re here to tell you this is a sign of stress. Check it at the tub’s border and enter that paralegal day spa unafflicted, my friend.

You have considered a career change in the last 30 days, albeit a mental dream or delusion.  Although you have absolutely NO idea what career change you’d make. You simply cannot imagine spinning miracles in the land of papyrus covered mountains and esquire driven stress until they secure your spot into the retirement village in Waikiki. (Did someone mention Waikiki? Suddenly, the stress is fading fast. I feel all warm and fuzzy. Forget the post – Take me to the leader of sun and sand immediately.)

You hear your cell phone ringing, look at the screen see that it’s someone from work calling (wonder WHO that could be???), and strategically decide to paralegal pretend you don’t own a cell phone and/or never heard it ring because you had an instantaneous bout of sudden deafness, in the event you actually decide to stand strong on this whole cell phone ownership thing.

“You called? Really?”

(I thought the ringing was only in my head. I plead the insanity defense.)

You wore two different colors of shoes to the office during a work day.  And please do not pretend I’m only talking to the ladies on this one. Men – this one’s also for you. I’ve seen it in the Cole Haan covered flesh with my own two eyes.  In the event you are not color blind, you do not have major cataracts, and are not partially blind in BOTH eyes, this is a sign of stress.

During a morning commute into the office, you came to the personal realization that you’d rather be driving ANYWHERE else. Yes, anywhere. Darn-near-literally. Is this you? The stress is upon you.

While cloaked in a mid-night’s slumber, you find yourself dreaming about work or work-related projects…or better yet, actually having a full-on work nightmare about the world’s most catastrophic crisis, epic screw up or self-perceived problem, which leads you to actually awaken covered in tiny beads of sweat, while gripped in the clutches of PTSD (that’s “paralegal traumatic stress disorder”), which may or may NOT fade as the day goes on.

You actually took the time to read this post to see if you “really” are stressed. The answer is “yes.” Check the box on that one. Wave your paralegal flag loud and proud.

You + stressed = yes.

If you found yourself shaking your head in the affirmative at least 4 times during the reading of today’s post, you MIGHT be stressed out. Oh heck, who are we kidding. You keep great company in the legal trenches – it’s called ALL of us.

We’ll see you basking beneath those fluorescent light bulbs in the “paralegal promise land.” Surely, you’ve got at least a few good sprints left in you – whether you’re stressed out, blissfully happy, fully-caffeinated, partially-crazy or strait jacket worthy. Besides, you’re too good at what you do to quit now – dream, delusion or otherwise.)

We tell no lies.

_____

We’ll see you next week, TPSers. Until then, keep it real. Best of luck in selecting a wrinkle-free outfit, applying mascara to BOTH sets of lashes, pulling two matching shoes from the dark closet, and winning the next round of “Paralegal Evading Esquire Hide-And-Go-Seek.”

Godspeed. Tuck and run.