Yale School of Architecture (savanna)

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    The Post-Review Report

    By savanna
    Dec 10, '04 9:40 PM EST

    Ovid's words kept me up through the night:

    I'm sorry for any fool who rates sleep a prime blessing
    And enjoys it from dusk till dawn
    Night in, night out.
    What's sleep but cold death's reflection?
    Plenty of time for rest when you are in your grave.

    (from elegy 9b)

    Dawn comes through once again!
    In a series of signs posted by her desk, witty comments that catch you off-guard, this is the best. Previous signs include: "You look very nice today," and "That's a great section you got there." Also, "Work harder, elves! Santa needs a new pair of shoes."

    I was awake for 48 hours for the first time in my life, but I think it paid off. I got the best review I've ever had, and it gave me a much needed boost of self confidence. Laurie Hawkinson called my project a "homerun." {} I couldn't believe it. I'm so competitive and judgmental that I forgot how to enjoy myself -- I only saw flaws and shortcomings. Now that I've worked on my library that much more, I feel ownership over it and I'm actually enjoying how it's turned out. I haven't completed everything I wanted to, and since we have a portfolio review due in January, I'm going to continue to work on it over winter break. I'd like to make a 3D Rhino model of it, for starters. Spin that thing around. My critic has been really encouraging and I don't think my project would have been nearly as good without his guidance. I'm lucky.

    Architecture school so far has been a period of self-reckoning. I've had a lot of trouble keeping up with my studies, and at times felt despondent and detached. I felt ambivalent about being in school -- I wasn't sure if I was any good, or if I'd even be happy as an architect, especially knowing how long it would take to pay off my debt. I've hid out within myself this semester, I've avoided people, and I've stopped taking care of myself the way I used use, mainly, I stopped going to the gym. But I think I've reached a crest, a turning point. I've gotten good feedback in all my classes and I'm starting to think maybe I really do belong here. My close friends are always amazed and often frustrated at my self-doubt. I have a tendency to be pessimistic because I feel I need to brace myself for the worst -- a lot like Andie Macdowell's character in Sex, Lies and Videotape who kept going on about the amount of garbage in the world. (She ends up with James Spader.)


    The point is that I'm 26 years old and I need to be more committed to living and enjoying my life. I need to cut the ties that are holding me back, though I'm not sure what those ties are. Probably memories lost in the past, creeping across my subconscious mind. Maybe I'm afraid of success? What I want to say is that school has been an emotional trial by fire, the combination of work and self-doubt colliding head-on, but out of this I have been recast as a stronger and more determined person. Coming here was the best thing I could have done for myself, because without the confrontation of school, I could have lingered indefinitely in uncertainty. I've always sought passion and conviction, preferring the black and white over the forever grey, and now at least I see the black and white in myself, my problems, and my ability to trump them with courage.

    This story is intensely personal, but I know there are other people out there with uncertainty and self-doubt debating whether or not to go to school, and I want to tell you, go! It's hard, but you'll know yourself better. And you'll see how talented you really are.


    • b3tadine[sutures]

      i totally empathize with you so here is a quote from Robert Hughes that my wife gave me as a wedding gift;

      "The greater the artist, the greater the doubt; perfect confidence is granted to those less talented as a consolation prize."

      i keep that quote on a wall outside my bedroom wall, and in my mind and think of it constantly....

      Dec 10, 04 11:41 pm

      ...oh and i know about the fear as well, my fear stems from the idea that once i fully commit, becomming lost in it and the bliss that brings.......

      Dec 10, 04 11:43 pm
      David Cuthbert

      hey savanna we share the doubt...I keep wondering if I know anything, and have the inkling that someone at some point will think I'm an imposter who knows fuck all. I hide my concerns with a smile and working harder, in the process isolating myself from my family, further by moving away, breaking off with my fiance of 6 months, and feeling forever like wilson (next to Tom Hanks on beach? No... still and isolated)

      Dec 13, 04 3:22 pm
      Marc Pittsley

      Take heart in your own abilities savanna. As betadinesutures implied with the quote, self-doubt can be a gift of sorts, I think. As long as it isn't debilitating, if you can cultivate a healthy sense of criticism, you can use it to keep yourself fresh. But don't forget to take pleasure (and some measure of pride) in your accomplishments!

      This is easy to say, certainly, but I struggle with it all the time. Thank you for such an emotionally compelling entry. I can certainly take a lesson from you!

      Dec 14, 04 10:57 am
      kaybyrd's really good to hear this as i am applying to Yale for next fall. I have always had self-doubt about my design work and none of my classmates ever seemed to. I was wondering if I was really cut out for graduate school, but you answered my question. Glad to hear that you are feeding off of the positive feedback from professors and making great strides! Thanks for your post. I think your words will be helpful to a lot of people.

      Dec 17, 04 1:31 am

      hmmm. ok. architects,,,

      Dec 17, 04 12:10 pm

      ... I'm also applying to Yale for next fall and can totally empathize with the self-doubt. I've always had a split personality of egotism and utter humility, and it drives my friends crazy. I managed to end up in a very comfortable but ultimately mediocre existence, and I have always felt that I might be wasting talent. Or then again, I might just be mediocre.

      When several circumstances changed in my life I decided that it was time to kick myself in the ass and go for it, failure be damned. I am applying to the top schools and sometimes I think that I deserve to get in and other times I am sure I will be rejected. I can only imagine what it will/would be like to matriculate. It's nice to hear similar sentiments from someone living the dream... :-) Keep up the good work!

      Jan 10, 05 6:13 pm

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