Walking to work every day I often buy bags full of chocolate. When sitting at my desk I always have to be eating something, listening to a podcast, or looking something un-work related up on the internet. I’m constantly looking at the clock. I am bored at work.
I have a wonderful career, and yet I feel unfulfilled. I am in architecture, and I work at a top international firm that many graduates dream of. I understand how lucky I am. I have a steady job, no worry of being let go, surrounded by some of the most supportive and wonderful people I’ve ever had the joy of working with, in an air conditioned office, in downtown Manhattan. I’ve “made it” in New York City. I am about to take the last of my seven licensing exams. On paper I’ve got it made.
And yet no matter how much I tell myself that all is well my actions are speaking louder than those thoughts. I am constantly looking for a distraction.
I recently took a trip to Puerto Rico for my birthday. Ten days of wandering around the island, exploring, hiking, surfing, snorkeling, swimming, talking to strangers, camping, laying in the sun. It was absolutely wonderful. When I returned I realized my skin had really cleared up and my pants were loose. Yet now that I’ve been back a couple weeks my skin has started to break out and I’m feeling all puffy. Stress. Boredom. I am realizing just how bored I am at work eight hours a day and the detrimental effect it is having on my health.
I got into architecture because I wanted to make a difference in the world. Buildings consume huge amounts of resources: energy, water, materials, etc. and therefore by implementing sustainable strategies we can dramatically reduce our negative impacts on the earth. Also, because people spend huge quantities of time indoors, and are constantly surrounded by buildings, architecture greatly influences our quality of life. I wanted to work with low-income housing to create spaces people would respect and be proud of, figure out architectural solutions to help impoverished and disaster stricken communities, and experiment with new sustainable technologies that would improve the environment. I saw an opportunity to make the world a better place through excellent architectural design. Yet somehow I’ve ended up designing huge apartments for rich people.
I know this is a common theme: idealistic dreams of the young crushed by the challenges of the “real world”. However, I don’t buy it. I don’t think this is it. Hope is not lost. I do still think I can make a difference, and just thinking about it and writing down those first aspirations is re-energizing me. How do I make those dreams a reality?
Also, I know I don’t want to work at a typical 9-6 job. Sitting at a desk in front of a computer all day literally sucks the life out of me. Only two weeks of vacation? Seriously? Naw that’s not going to work for much longer. I want a job where I can travel and work from anywhere. I want a job that takes me places. I want a job that inspires and challenges me. I want to be an entrepreneur. I’m putting in my time at the bottom, learning the industry, and learning how to be a true architect, but when do I take the leap and do something different? I feel like I’m getting so far behind as I stew in my comfort zone.
Right now I have a specific focus: to finish my Architecture Registration Exams (ARE). I am too busy to do anything but study and tend to those essential things we must do to keep our lives afloat. I should really be studying instead of writing this blog post. Once I am done with that exam…then what? If all goes well I’ll be licensed in just a little over a month. One and a half years of licensing exams, two years of grad school, three years of internships, and five years of undergraduate will culminate in me becoming a licensed Architect. Ten years of work. Then what? Then the real soul searching begins. What do I want to do with my life? Where do I go from here?