When you are enmeshed in the stresses, deadlines, social-climbing, and competitiveness of architecture school (and in some cases, architecture career) it is easy to misplace priorities.
The slippage started when I chose to make a career out of what I love to do. I have the immense fortune and opportunity to do professionally the things that I'd otherwise spend many of my waking hours doing anyway: researching, reading about, discussing, and making architecture. I do not forget how privileged this makes me. I am glad I chose it and that I am able to do it.
But a split started to happen. I put in all this time on school work. But both myself and my critics are dissatisfied with the results. To keep myself engaged, I took on design projects outside of school - on my own terms and with collaborators I willfully selected. I'm not only proud of those projects personally, but they actually got published or won awards. I do good work when I do the work I want to do. I do my worst work when I don't believe in a project, yet am still invested just enough in the ideas behind it to not be able to pump out content for the sake of pumping out content and getting assigned tasks done. Utter busy work, I can produce with aplomb. "So close yet so far," not so much. A valuable thing to know about myself. I guess I could "work on it." I'm not sure I want to, though.
We get told "You don't get to pick and choose in the real world. That's how it works. Grow up, reality check." I don't know if it's serendipity or if I somehow have a skill at finagling good situations or what, but I haven't found that to be true. Previously (and coming up this summer, thankfully) I've loved the jobs I've had, the projects I've worked on, the clients I've worked with. On the rare few occasions when that wasn't true... I was able to end my participation in the projects and leave. I found the right people, and in some cases, they sought me out because they LIKE how I approach design and what I make - rather than trying to hammer it into something that it is not, that I am not. This has, and continues, to work out beautifully in the Real World. Not so well in academia, where that isn't how it works.
I couldn't make myself give a damn about designing a project whose existence repulses me in the first place, the premises of which I find unethical, and which will do nothing more than sit in my portofolio until it gets cycled out by enough professional experience... when an organization that I absolutely LOVE reached out and asked me to do the interior reconfiguration of their cramped and crowded office, which would for many reasons (client privacy for legal counsel and wheelchair accessibility, in particular) benefit from a spatial overhaul.
You get the degree to do be able to do the work you want to do. But then an opportunity to do the work you want to do arises while you're frantically producing busy work you don't like, to get that degree. What do you do?
It is easy to start to believe that you must sacrifice family, friendships, love, and community for the sake of the all-consuming and perpetual charette.
It is easy to get brainwashed when you're told that your priorities are wrong when you have to prioritize family and relationships over your work. That this is proof you're not committed to your profession. That you aren't a "real" architect." That you're soft. That you aren't cut out for the job. That you should take this quarter and call your mommy and tell her you aren't going to be an architect anymore.
So easy that I treat people poorly. Put academics & career first. Because I have to - it's expensive, this degree. Treat even people I love very much as if they are less important than What I Am "Really" Doing With My Life. Forget that loved ones (individuals and communities) are the reason that I wanted to get into this profession in the first place.
I do not want to live in a world designed by people who don't know how to LIVE. I do not want to live in a world built up by people who work 80 hours a week and subsist on coffee and ambition. Do we really want to live in buildings designed by people who don't think it's important to enjoy life? You know. The people who render giant plazas with no people. The people who like architectural photography with no people. Prop stylists and idealizers. Ugh, no.
I want to live in a world that is designed by people who love other people and who love life and living. I love life and design accordingly.
This is an ASSET to my architecture career, not a distraction.
So. I have been away from school for a year. Hence being away from the blog for a year. But am returning to Yale in the fall. And I Refuse. To. Get. Brainwashed. Again.