Name: Megan Pharis
Location: Dallas, Texas
Megan, you were in the place many women find themselves in. Great job, great pay, succeeding, but with a bit of a tug to do something else. What was that like? And what was going through your head prior to January 2017?
I think I just felt sorta useless.
Like I was just walking through life but I wasn't DOING anything. From the outside, it looked like I was doing tons---single mom, great job, great house, awesome friends, volunteered like crazy, etc. But in my soul, something was missing. And before January 2017, I could not put my finger on what it was. I searched for other jobs that never panned out. I searched for a relationship. None of it was answering the question in my head of, "what am I really supposed to be doing? Is this it? Really?"
Share with us your experience of sitting on a jury. How did this event start you down the path of considering a career change?
Ha! Well it was a DUI case and I was fascinated. I'd never been picked before, so I was pumped. I literally wanted to take notes the whole time and ask the witnesses questions. When it was over, something stirred inside me. And I thought, "could this be the thing?" Then I thought, certainly not. I'm about to turn 40, great job, great house, awesome friends, wonderful kiddo, a relationship with the Lord.....what could possibly be missing? Little did I know, the Lord was laughing at me, thinking "girl, I've got a surprise for you!"
What happened after you decided to sit for the LSAT?
Well the short answer is, I studied. A lot. And I did it in private. I figured that if I took the test and did not do well, that was that. It would be fine because I had this great job, great friends, etc. to fall back on. And maybe I was wrong and the Lord didn't want me to pursue a career in the law. Nobody had to know I ever did it.
But my mind began to race with all the possibilities. What if I did well? What if I got into law school? What if I quit my job? What if, what if, what if?
And all of it was private (save a couple of key people I needed for references etc.). So the spring of 2017 was difficult for me, I felt like I was keeping secrets from people. But it was all very intentional and what I needed to make the decision for myself.
During this entire process, you were very purposeful in keeping the circle of people who knew what you were thinking and doing very tight. How was that helpful for you? And what happened once you started telling more people?
Oh man. Yes, I was very intentional about who I told and when. Because at the end of the day, I had to make the choice that felt right for me. So I made it with very little (if any) input from others. Somewhere, I think I knew if I started asking, I'd get talked out of it. Not because my friends and family are awful, just the opposite. They would say all the things (you have a great job, great friends, great flexibility, it's a ton of work, it's risky, it's scary) which are well intentioned (and true!) and it would convince me not to move. And I did not want that. I did not want to be stagnant because I was scared. I wanted to do what God intended for my life, despite my fear. And there was lots of fear, folks. More than you'll ever know. And what's funny is that after I started telling people, the reaction I got was unexpected. There were naysayers, of course. But mostly, there was "you're so brave"; "I'm so proud of you"; "I'm so jealous"; "You'll be a great lawyer." As adults, we underestimate the power of people (not our parents) saying they are proud of us. I was overwhelmed at the reactions.
How did your faith play a part during your experience?
After the jury experience, I remember praying and saying "Lord, I might want to do this and I might think it's what YOU want for me. If it is the path You have for me, I promise to keep walking through the doors that you open for me. Even when I'm scared. Even when I'm tired. Even when it feels like I can't do it. I will keep following Your path, because I know it leads me in the right direction." Every day I prayed. And every day I woke up and walked through doors that 1) I never thought would open, and 2) that I was terrified to walk through. Every day. And every day I was amazed at what happened next. I did it all with His strength and the support of my incredible friends and family. It would not have happened without them in my corner, cheering me on, buying me wine, dropping off and picking up my daughter from school, reminding me of why I was doing all the things. I will be forever grateful.
As a single mom, what have you hoped to teach your daughter about pursuing dreams throughout her entire life?
Oh, she walked with me for 2.5 years and the journey was so sweet. She was in 4th grade when I got accepted and 5th grade when I started. She made flashcards with me, told me I needed to study more, and reminded me to eat and sleep. I remember my aunt and uncle (both lawyers) telling me, when I was *frequently* whining about not having time with my daughter, they said "but think of what you are teaching her.
Without saying a word, you are teaching her that it is never too late to pursue your dreams, that you can do all the hard things when you work hard, and that the reward is so sweet.
All that, without saying a word, Megan."
Now you are a lawyer! What is that like? And how does it feel to have pivoted into a completely new career after 40?
HA! I'm tired. But it's a "good tired," if that makes sense. I took a pay cut and I work longer hours. But it is worth it. It makes me feel like I'm DOING something. Like my brain is working overtime and I love that. There are struggles, please hear me. The financial struggle is real and it's scary. But we are good. And I am excited about the future. We eat out less and buy less clothes. And you know what? We are just fine. I could not have asked for a better firm to work for, which is also God's blessing. He gave me a firm that is prayerful, supportive, kind and awesome. They are really good at what they do, which is an added bonus! I'm learning from the best and I am happy to sit at their feet a while longer. :)
Anything else you want to share with us?
Fear is a liar. It makes you doubt yourself, which is toxic. Fear paralyzes you to the point of staying in a situation that is unfulfilling, not challenging, not where God wants you. And yet, you stay out of fear.
And hear me, this was me...for many years...but I decided one day I wasn't going to let my fear of failure/the unknown/financial insecurity/you name it stop me from doing what I was meant to do. I was done sitting on the sidelines of my life, watching it happen to me. I was going to DO something.
A question we ask everyone...what do you want to be known for?
I want to be known as a Godly woman who followed His path for her, even when she was scared. Even when she wanted to give up. Even when it was hard. She followed Him because she knew He would provide for her and for her daughter. And folks? He has. He has kept His promises. We are abundantly blessed.
My favorite quote is...
In the most counterintuitive fashion, literally my favorite quote is from Cameron Dias, from the movie The Holiday: "Cry on the inside....like a WINNER!" If you know me, this won't surprise you. If you don't, it's probably strange. But I tried hard to keep the fear/anxiety/stress inside. That's insanity, but I did. Hence the quote. :)