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Teodora Popescu - About change and other stories

Author: Teodora Popescu

April 1st, 2021. I lie on the asphalt after a car accident in which I was the pedestrian at fault - that's how the biggest career change of my life began: completely lost in thought, with files and documents in my arms, backpack with work laptop, arguing with the Uber driver - he wouldn't go where I told him and I would be late, I get out of the car angrily and don't look when I overtake, so I get hit by a lady in a Touareg.

I remember flying and landing on the asphalt and I can't get up because I've been thrown so hard, I'm cold and my back hurts, but I hope I don't have anything wrong with my spine. I can feel my legs, it just hurts. Lots of people gather around me and I ask someone to bring me the phone. As it happens, my mother was somewhere in the area, I call her and tell her that... I had an accident and if she can come to help me and I won't forgive myself that she had to go through all that to.... To see me lying on the sidewalk. But I was weak and I couldn't resist calling her.

Even in the most difficult moments of life, we always want our mothers around us.

My mom arrives, the woman in the Touareg gets out of the car, she cries saying she didn't mean to hit me, I cry too from the ground telling her to be quiet, the people around me are screaming, that I shouldn't move to avoid hurting myself more, that I should wait until the ambulance comes. But all I told my mom at that moment, before they lifted me onto the stretcher, was to call my coworkers and ask them to pull a document I had been working on from the server and send it to them.

I had been working on that. I had a deadline that day, a response I had been working on for a government agency.... I had a deadline that day, an answer I'd been working on for an authority... I forgot to mention that I'm a lawyer... I had a deadline, that's all I could think about while the guys on the rescue were stretching my bones and asking me if it was okay, if I was in pain... I'd probably been able to get my laptop out and send it, if I could move, except the laptop was broken.

After I got to the hospital, I was told that miraculously I only had bruises all over my body and no broken bones. While I was in the emergency room looking at the people there - some of them had been drinking and their heads were broken - a girl with a bruised face and a busted lip was asked by the police officers what had happened - she said loud and clear that she had fallen off her scooter while her boyfriend held her hand and nodded worriedly, I kept thinking about my life and how I had gotten there.

At the age of 25, I suddenly decided that I wanted to change my studies. My first choice in life, my semi-adult life, was the Faculty of Foreign Languages. I wanted to study literature there. That was the best experience of my life. It shaped me and laid an important foundation for who I am today. But when I was 25, I gave up Shakespeare for the Civil Code. I decided to pursue a career in law. I was drawn to the world of arguments, debates and heated arguments about our rights and responsibilities. About the rules by which society functions. About how we go through life. I knew from the start that I wanted to be a lawyer, because no other legal profession would have given me the freedom I felt I needed. I chose to be a business lawyer, answering your questions and helping you before you get into a conflict, before you go to court. And I loved it!

There were many good times, both during my studies and in my early career, I can say that with certainty. It's not for nothing that I learned to love law and then immersed myself so deeply and intensely in life as a lawyer that I forgot myself. But there were also times when I asked myself whether the path I was taking was the right one. Whether I feel professionally fulfilled, whether I am where I should be. The environment of legal advice is one that needs adrenaline lovers and less reflective personalities. The pressure of deadlines and responsibility for the consequences of the words you speak to clients or write in expert opinions, contracts and transactions is so great that sometimes you don't have time to breathe.

So in my life as a lawyer I have learned, badly, to be very hard on myself, and more demanding than I have been ever. Don't let me be wrong. To constantly think only about what I have to do, for days, nights and holidays. I don't think we talk enough about that and the consequences of internalizing this kind of stress on our health. The life of a lawyer has the talent to completely suck you in, to disintegrate and reintegrate you from morning to night, to make you forget yourself until you cross the street, you don't look and you get hit by a car...

At least for me it was like that: there was no middle ground in my professional life and no balance between my work, its pace and what it allows me to enjoy what I do.

After the bruises disappeared, I took a closer look at myself and thought about how important this balance is.

Then I decided it was important and pulled the gearshift and shifted again. I hung up the lawyer's robe and now I'm a legal advisor, working in finance and banking - which I love, no joke!

I've slowed down a bit so I can look out the window, enjoy the scenery, the friends around me, the deeper engagement with a case. I do everything at a more human pace and look to the future with more hope and inner balance, ready for the next change.

Mom, thank you once again for being there for me through it all!

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