Architecture School can be a lonely place at times despite being surrounded by your friends and colleagues. I know from personal experience that at times, it easy to question your drive, dedication, talent, or ability. Maybe you shouldn’t be in architecture school … you don’t have what it takes. You spend a million hours in design studio learning new skills and techniques – always looking for that great idea – something that will help guide you through your design problem and leave you feeling good about the end result …
and it doesn’t ever come.
Every now and then I get an email or a comment that makes me think I need to write a post on the subject. It used to happen far more frequently but since I’ve been at this blog thing for a while, I think I’ve hit all the typical questions in some form or fashion. Earlier this week, I had an exchange with an architecture student that was both happy and sad at the same time. This persons situation and comment weren’t entirely unique, many people have emailed me asking for advice on finding their place in the world of architecture, but for some reason, this one struck me slightly different from the others.
I have inserted a screengrab of the original comment exchange below:
There are few architects that haven’t had moments of insecurity, where they questioned their abilities, or even if after practicing architecture for a while, didn’t wonder if they didn’t make a wrong decision somewhere along the line. I don’t really think this experience is unique to architects but that doesn’t mean we don’t grab and hold on to it as our own.
It is fairly well documented on this site that I knew I wanted to be an architect from the age of 5. When I finally made it to architecture school, I quickly realized that I wasn’t as great as I thought I was. I looked at the work the geniuses around me were creating and had a fairly sizable panic attack when it dawned on me that all I ever wanted to be was an architect and I was terrible at it. (You can read more about that moment in the post ‘ Do you want to be an Architect? The College Years‘)
My father gave me a piece of advice back then that has stuck with me and I have shared many times over :
“People go to college to learn how to learn …”
This has turned out to be a great piece of advice – particularly when you find yourself sitting on the couch at night responding to the worried emails of young people who haven’t had enough time to find their way in life or figure out who they are … yet. I think it’s important that college architecture students hear that it’s okay that they haven’t got it all figured out.
“You are still incredibly young so try not to spend too much time figuring yourself out or limiting what you think you are capable of. As a student, you spend a lot of time on the proverbial island and all you can do is look across the way at what other people are doing on their island. Real life isn’t like this so relax…”
I’d like to say that despite my architectural career not following the path I planned, I’m pretty happy with where I’ve landed. If I had paid too much attention to those moments of self-doubt, who knows where I’d be. The same thing holds true for everybody – things that are the hardest become the most worthwhile. Show up, work hard, and relax … everything is probably going to be just fine.