There is a commonality among most professional fields (well, let’s actually say most career opportunities) and tests of endurance. It comes in the guise of mastery or the process of fulfillment. First comes the excitement; the anticipation of the challenge that has yet to be surmounted. Whenever someone makes the conscience decision to move into a career field (or to continue the analogy, make that physical and mental leap at an endurance challenge), the inevitability of the hardship is welcomed, perhaps even embraced. You don’t know any better, therein lies the thrill, right? Soon, along that path one meets the adversity face to face; the pain, the grinding, the stubborn resolve to just…make…it…past. The mastery incline and plateau path is a wicked siren; alluring and demoralizing at the same time, with the intent always to dash you against the rocks before you reach landfall. In this phase, however, the mind is hardened; the resolve tested and usually never bested. Lastly, the pain becomes the pastel hued and tolerable backdrop upon which you can finally build. The task finally comes into stark focus when you enter the state of pseudo-nirvana where the opportunity cost of real success and happiness is merely the pain you have already conquered and relegated to the necessary and banally surmountable nuisance. The extended denouement is your reward. You have bested the mini-bosses and now have the privilege of truly refining your art/career/fortitude to a level that can propel you beyond your initial goals. Not resting on your laurels, per se, but lets say the remaining task is reaping the rewards of hard choices.
Architecture may be the the true exception to this path. Take the paragraph above and flip it on it’s head. The grueling task that is design school is the happiest experience I have had to date in my professional career. 5 years of late nights, little sleep, poor diet, and perpetual poverty could never discount the sheer thrill of Making. All of those aforementioned trials seemed to pale as the task at hand would come to fruition and in an orgy of creative and brain-meltingly copacetic output. The volume of critical thought generated betwixt a single studio classes constituents could overshadow and objectively topple all of the banal accomplishments of any given architecture practitioner. It is the engine of the architecture educational studio that drives this profession…not the actual professionals.
Then comes the pain…
I can honestly say that, for myself, the worst decision I ever made was to graduate from architecture school and start “developing” my professional skills. Do not be fooled. In architecture this is not the transition phase; this is the end game…in a game that actually never ends. For doctors, the thrill of learning is met by the challenge and eventuality of helping those in need. As a lawyer, your 3 years of education culminates in the privilege of rationally interpreting and executing the letter of the law. In architecture, your sacrifice is met and exceeded only by the petty and short-sighted nature of the profession you have now become a part of. To borrow a term I read at some point, the architect is now able to settle into their role as “the lap dog of the rich” and damn your ethical quandaries straight to hell.
Bitter? Yes I am. Bitter that I believed in architecture so much so that it changed my life for the better…and now it only makes me miserable and prompts me to think of alternate careers that I might be able to use my acquired skills for the betterment of my state of mind or the betterment of anything….anything else. To say that I despise my job(s) is an understatement, but I blame myself. I blame myself for taking a second chance at that one place and I blame myself for taking a first chance at the next. Countless times have I spoken to students warning them to be aware of the creeping myopathy that sets as the academic to professional transition approaches. Unfortunately, my diatribes on myopathy have only succeeded in garnering a complacency with it in my own career. I am a victim of my own warnings.
I can only surmise that I am slain both my own ideology as well as the carnivorous architectural economic climate. I grossly envy those that have the financial means to drop the CAD standards manual off at HR and walk out the corporate door, looking back only to make sure the door doesn’t hit them or to remember the address of the office that will eventually eat it’s own young. If I had unemployment to fall back on, you can guarantee I would just start making. Just making. But alas, pragmatism is a greedy whore with regard to architecture. I have to pay the bills…right?
What is the boiling point of a broken profession? What is the circumstance that would make you take the reigns of your own future rather than endure more brow beatings under the auspices of paying dues or “that’s just the way things are”-ism? How do the circumstances stack up in other professions like: acting, music, law, engineering, etc? Is it genuinely possible to adore your profession and loathe your professional colleagues? Across the board? Is it possible to dedicate your time, energy, and money to the betterment of your profession while concurrently hoping that all of the sheeple that practice with die a horrible and fitting death; perhaps crushed by the weight of their ego and a developers falling Maybach? Can the HDF be anymore of a DF?
I guess I may not be cut out for this shit after all. Poop.
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