I suppose there are unhappy people in every job, every profession and every career path. I also understand that there is more to a satisfying work experience than just being “in” a particular career. However, I love being an architect and I am grateful that I get to be an architect and also teach future architects. Despite my innate sense to provide for my family and return home to them after “dragging home the daily kill” for dinner, I actually look forward to going to work.
Last week I was paying for my coffee after dropping off my son at school (another wonderful privilege) and I overheard someone saying “uh, I gotta go to work now” with a tone of resentment. He obviously was not looking forward to going to work. As I grew up it was common for men to complain about work. I don’t know if they really hated their job or if they just complained the same way everybody complains about cafeteria food. You just do it whether it’s true or not. Nevertheless, the preponderance of people hating their jobs made an impression on me as a kid. I didn’t want to be that way. These were the days that most moms stayed at home and the dads went off to work. Our culture is more complicated now. Now I hear both men and women doing the complaining. I guess it’s an equal opportunity world.
Our instinctive knack to be lazy probably has a part in our tendencies to avoid work. Admit it, how many of you would actually go to work if you were independently wealthy? Perhaps it is a hard question to really know the answer to unless put in that situation. I believe I would still want to work even though it would likely be different.
I realized at a very young age that I wanted to be an architect. The desire never really wavered but I also didn’t talk about it daily either. Yet I pursued it through debt and adversity. To be honest I never thought about job prospects, salary potential, school debt or where I’d live. My focus was simple; I just wanted to be an architect. Maybe ignorance is bliss.
The grass isn’t greener anywhere you look, and there are certainly frustrating days and unappreciative people in my circles. However, as I think about my life and my job-and-a-half (running my own practice and a part-time teaching role) I feel fortunate and I feel privileged. To me I would do this anyway even if only as a hobby. I suppose I get paid to ‘do’ my hobby of sorts. How cool is that? I say all of this after a very hectic week, a few late nights and plenty of ups and downs. I often get overwhelmed by too little work or too much work and running your own business is not for the weak of heart. Yet I still love it.
This past week I also spoke to a small group of gifted students at the high school were my wife teaches. I spoke passionately yet truthfully about architecture. That also triggered these thoughts that I am sharing now. I wanted them to make a careful choice (whatever that may be) whereby they would find contentment in their career choice, even if it’s something we don’t find glamorous.
I don’t think I’ve ever said “uh, I gotta go to work” in a long time (since being an architect at least). If you are in a job or career where you do feel this way, I extend some empathy. However, we all have and make choices even if we don’t realize it. If you’re still in school and have a choice to make, think carefully, research thoroughly and surround yourself with wise people.
Choose wisely and hopefully you’ll feel as privileged as me.
photos are from timobalk’s stock photo gallery on Stock.Xchng (used under the Standard Restrictions)