Poise, Pep and My Power Suit

Alexis-Sclambergsm1-120x162by Alexis Sclamberg

I remember my polished image staring back at me at that downtown consignment store. I could hear Dolce and Gabbana cheering me on, with my cinched waist, tapered suit pants and power pumps.

I looked pretty sharp, I looked really professional, and crazily enough, I looked like a lawyer.

My Penn Law pedigree scored me an interview at nearly every top law firm in New York City, so I figured I better look the part. In a funky, run-down thrift shop, hidden in the 20’s, I bought the suit. Zebra-print-lined blazer and all. I even kept my hair wrapped in my neat, business bun as I carried my loot back uptown on the Subway.

The designer suit, along with my poise and my pep, worked their magic, and by the following week my apartment started filling up with offers and gifts—lots of gifts—water bottles, flash drives, and gym bags, all sporting Big Law names.

I even got a bonsai tree.

I was wanted. I was being courted full press. By the best. The best of the best!

That part felt good. No, it felt fantastic. I could work the system.

But could the system work for me?

I had a feeling in the pit of my stomach that it wouldn’t, that something wasn’t right. It seemed that the prize I worked so tirelessly to win, with all its perks and sky-scraper paychecks, wasn’t for me.

Was it just new job jitters or was some deep down voice really telling me to change course?

Not a Chance.

Turns out, it was my voice. And it was getting louder and louder. I think I may have always known that working a cookie cutter job was a lost cause for me. It took me a measly six weeks at a firm to high tail it out of there.

Here it was, just another chapter of my life story. I’m the girl that doesn’t draw in the lines. I’m the girl that sings a different tune. I’m the girl that…you get the picture. My gut gives me a direction and my heart leads the way. That’s just who I am.

Reason, Logic and a Gut Feeling

I know that many of you are thinking I’ve squandered an incredible opportunity. How irresponsible! What insanity to give up financial security in a time like this! Do you know how many people dream of being in your position?

For three years in law school, I was taught that Reason and Logic reign supreme—that deductive thinking dictates sensible action. So, yes, you could argue that I am irresponsible, insane and unappreciative. You could tell me that it would only make sense to take my law degree, my license to practice, and my $150,000 student debt straight over to Big Law, hunker down, and stay a while. A good, long while.

But my Intuition is a wellspring of wisdom so far beyond the halls of law school and the walls of my brain. And it was sharing a vision of a girl who fits perfectly into the fabric of her comfy sweatshirt and yoga pants. It was telling me the story of a girl who wanted something else. So I listened.

My gut feeling didn’t come with a long list of explanations or even a well-reasoned alternative. It just arrived—a big package with a bold message: NO ANALYSIS REQUIRED.

You might call my decision a giant risk. But never have I thought it was a bad idea to gamble on myself. The real risk would have been silencing my inner voice; this I refused to do. And as for the Dolce and Gabbana suit, it ripped straight down the front pants’ seam, right before an interview. It just wasn’t meant to be.


A former lawyer and past speaker at the Texas Conference for Women, Alexis has been called “the self-help voice of her generation,” and is the author of the upcoming book, Borrowed Wisdom. She contributes personal essays to publications including Forbes.com and Cosmopolitan magazine, blogs for The Huffington Post, and writes an advice column in the J Weekly paper. You can also find her writing for Women’s Media Center, Hello Giggles, Women’s eNews, Runner’s World online, and others. You can find her at and follow her on Twitter here.