Wednesday, June 3, 2009

One thing that will make your job (and life) better

I just returned from a long weekend across the country, where I visited my family and gave a guest lecture for a longtime friend and colleague.  My colleague is a college English professor with a deep interest in architecture, and every spring she teaches a class on the connections between art, architecture, and literature.  And every spring, I fly to her town and give a slide show and talk even more about architecture and culture and how they influence each other.  It's nice to put on a resume, sure, but moreover, it's just fun to teach.  It's fun to talk about the things that interest me and answer questions and explain things that I take for granted but others might not understand.

Architecture is an insular profession.  We spend most of our time with other architecture majors in college because our classes, especially studio, are so time consuming that we have to make friends with the other folks in our major and classes.  By the time we get to the workplace, the habit has been ingrained--we work with almost nothing but other architects, so we seek out and hang out with more architects and do architecty things with them.  We talk about how hard we work and how little sleep we get and how do you make CAD/Revit/MicroStation do this or that or how crazy our bosses or contractors are and so on.

Do me and yourselves a favor: stop.

The best thing you can do for your mental health as an architect is to get outside of architecture.  Join some clubs, talk to your neighbors, find a volunteer activity, just do whatever it takes to do things that don't involve architecture.  Go meet people that aren't architects, that aren't even interior designers or landscape architects.  In the past nine years, my circle of friends has expanded to include a psychologist, a cardiac nurse, a physical therapist, a TSA security screener/agent, a librarian, a truck driver, a special education teacher, and two English professors.  While the majority of my friends are still in the design and construction industry, I get to hang out with people that talk about other things and broaden my horizons.  By hanging out with the psychologist, I now co-teach a communication class with her.  By hanging out with the English teacher, I started volunteering at a no-kill cat shelter.  By taking some classes several years ago, I got into stand-up and improv comedy.  Even though I occasionally lecture on architecture and I still work in architecture every day, I carve out time for non-architectural pursuits.  It does two things for me: one, it keeps me from being utterly boring (who wants to hang out with someone who only talks about one subject?); and two, it gives me a break from my passion and profession that leaves me more refreshed and motivated to get back into it.

No comments:

Post a Comment