Putting This Out Into the Universe

Sketch-UniverseI want to travel the world; not on sporadic trips, but as a lifestyle.

I want to spread as much love as is possible in one lifetime.

I want to be an entrepreneur. A maker.

I want to live according to my intuition and by doing so fulfill my life’s purpose each day.

I want to love deeply and trust completely.

Love,

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Confessions of a Perfectionist

Sketch-perfection

“Perfectionist” is a mask that I have worn for far too long.  A mask that I’ve worn to cover up a deep seated fear that I would never be good enough. A mask that, to this day, I often have a hard time taking off. I am a recovering perfectionist. Case in point: I just spent half an hour tweaking the size and color levels of the artwork at the top of the page :/

Truth be told, perfectionism has gotten me very far in life. In school I was always at the top of my class (and by top I mean the very top), and I’ve excelled in my career. In the past I wore the title of perfectionist proudly. Now I realize that what I once considered a a badge of honor has actually held me back in life.

Below are some confessions of a perfectionist:

Perfectionism is the fuel in my self-degradation fire. Perfection is a completely abstract, un-quantifiable, and entirely subjective concept. When I shoot for perfection I am grasping for air. I am setting myself up for failure. Whenever people give me complements my first reaction is to point out something wrong, or less than perfect, about whatever they are complementing. I justify this self-degradation by staying, “I’m a perfectionist,” with a shrug and a smile.

Perfectionism stops me from starting. Whenever I have an inspired, creative idea I instantly start to overthink it. I feel like I can’t start something until I have the end game all figured out. However, the truth is I can never fully control anything in this life. No amount of worry or over-analyzing can change that.

Perfectionism gives me an excuse to procrastinate. When working on a new project, whether it be designing a building, starting this blog, or starting a new piece of art, I use to research, research, research. Then tweak, tweak, tweak. Then perfect, perfect, perfect. Then decide the whole thing was shit, throw it out, and start over. I was so overwhelmed with a desire to make something “the best” that I would rarely ever make anything at all.

Perfectionism stunts my growth. Because I’ve been so scared to make a mistake, look stupid, or fail at things I rarely step out of my comfort zone when it comes to my career. Yes, I have been “successful” in my life according to social standards, but that desire to appear perfect has led to me excel in a career that I don’t actually like. And has made shifting my career towards something more meaningful and fulfilling difficult for me.

Perfectionism has led me to disregard my health. I have never shied away from hard work, and by hard work I mean not sleeping for a week in order do my absolute best on a project. I probably average four hours of sleep a night for five year of my life in college and graduate school. I wanted to be the best. I wanted to create the best work. Nothing else mattered. And health-wise I have been paying for it. Even after four years of prioritizing my health I still experience chronic headaches, debilitating migraines, adrenal fatigue, and other health issues that developed as a result of my perfectionist ways.

Perfectionism makes it difficult to let go. There are projects and people in my life that I have taken far too long to “quit.” I get stuck in the mindset of, ” I should be able to make this work.” And for the longest time I saw letting go as a sign of failure. I now know that letting go is not giving up. I wrote a whole blog post about it here.

I have been working to let go of my perfectionist tenancies for a couple years now. The more inner work I do the more ingrained I realize this characteristic is. It’s been tough, but completely worth it. This blog would not exist if I hadn’t made a decision to let go of perfectionism and start before I’m ready.

Perfectionism is just fear in a pretty, socially acceptable mask. Lets not let fear dictate our lives.

Let it go. Start before you’re ready. Make a move. It feels amazing.

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How Do You Define Success?

In the past year I’ve achieved many of the career goals that I’ve been working towards my entire adult life. I became a registered architect. I got a promotion at a top architecture firm. I “made it” in New York City.

However, for a few years now I’ve known that working Monday through Friday at a 9-6 desk job is not enough for me. For some reason I kept charging on even though I knew I wanted change. It’s as if I felt the need to prove to myself and those around me that I can do it. I can attain societies version of “success.”

Point proven. Now it’s time to define success on my own terms.

For me, success is listening and living according to my inner wisdom. Success is allowing inspiration and guidance to flow through me. Success is using my innate talents to create something unique and positive in this world. I’m successful when I’m following my heart.

My definition of success does not hinge on a certain salary or a man-given title. It does not come with the ownership of certain possessions or property. It is not dependent on a relationship or marriage. It is not based on the latest trends. It is not influenced by the opinions of celebrities, politicians, family or friends.

Success is personal. We can allow our definition of success to be defined by the media and society, or we can define it for ourselves. I choose myself.

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What do I want to do with my life?

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?