Thursday, November 6, 2014

Articulating anger...and finding a way out

Maybe not a complete way out, but somewhat.

I'm still here, still an architect, and still angry. A recent comment stated "it's not the profession, it's the people." There's a lot of truth in that statement. I think this profession warps people, but it's worse when it warps someone who was already a four-alarm-fire-flaming douche. And it's even worse when it warps a good, sane person and turns them into said type of douche.

I've been continually silent because it feels like everything I have to say is either a) raging against the machine, and b) isn't really an architecture problem but a white-collar worker in 21st-century America problem. I suppose both of those are true, and yet that doesn't make them less important. I'm furious when I watch a group of so-called seasoned design professionals refuse to think futuristically or at least creatively about how they run their businesses and their piece of the profession. And while I can't change that 100% right now, I can do something.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.
--Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I'm trying to find ways to articulate my thoughts, suggestions, advice, questions, and general pot-stirring commentary in a succinct manner. I've been undergoing a real change in how I spend my days and energy in the past year, and I still have work to do fixing my 31 Flavors of Shit (especially personally), so I'm trying to figure out how to write without giving myself another task/cross to bear.

But I'm here, with you, and still ultimately feel the same way: it's a good profession, but it's sick, and it CAN get better, if we try.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Still here, still angry

I haven't had much to say lately.  Well, actually, I've had lots to say, but it's all been angry and cranky. I'm still frustrated with my profession. I'm beyond weary of a profession that cuts its own throat by underbidding each other and undercharging for their work. I'm worn out by ridiculous deadlines and horrible communication and poor coordination and at least a hundred other things. I'm still working out how to improve it, or at least my part in it. I'm torn between wanting to tell interns the truth about what I've seen, and knowing that as a upper-level manager at a firm, everything and anything I write on a blog can be held against me.

So thanks for tuning in now and again.  I'm here.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Coming up out of the trough of depression and burnout


I'm so thankful for the occasional but regular comment and cheers I'm getting from you all.  It's been entirely too long since I last posted, and if you all disappeared and started reading other better and more informative architectural blogs, I wouldn't be upset at all.

It's been a long haul since the burnout really kicked in late last summer. The short version of the story is this: After a few months of struggling, weeping in the bathroom at work, and barely able to tolerate other human beings at work, I finally went on antidepressants. The meds began lifting me out of my fog, and a good therapist has been helping me peel back the layers of beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that have led me to a place of burnout and hopelessness. I am finally coming up out of the deep underwater trench that is depression and burnout, like a submarine from the Marianas Trench.

Part of my rise from the depths originated in seeing Brene Brown's TED Talks on vulnerability, courage, and authenticity. I read a couple of her books and found that they and her TED Talks resonated deeply with me.  Reading these, going on meds, and committing to  good therapy brought me to a few of my own professional and personal, I mean, spiritual awakenings:

  • Many of the traits and behaviors I've sought to suppress and squelch in myself, and that I've recommended you all suppress and squelch, are actually the things that make  me--and you--interesting and real to others. Sharing my fears, weaknesses, concerns, etc. in a not-too-TMI way can actually inspire and motivate others and get them on my side.
  • I've been living unsustainably energy-wise. Writing two blogs, serving on several committees at work, keeping up a speaking gig on the side, and doing almost full-time billable work on projects is unsustainable. Maybe it's my age (I turned 38 in Fall 2013), or maybe it's that all my busyness has kept the depression at bay, but it's time to accept my limits on time and energy. It's also time that I hold those boundaries with others, including my bosses.
  • My firm really does like, value, and support me. When I melted down last summer/fall, many of the senior leaders and partners rallied around me and asked "how can we help?" When I just folded in my chair and cried, they just sat with me and said, "Whatever you need, we'll help. We want you here for the long run." When I finally decided what I wanted, they said, "Great, let's do it" and did everything they could to deliver. I've been living my life for nearly 14 years like an intern just out of school trying to prove myself, I didn't realize that I'd already proven myself.
Hopefully I can get back to posting a little more often as I start to feel better. I must admit that so much of what I've written in the past makes me feel like a fraud. Perhaps the truth is closer to a quote by Oprah Winfrey (I know, I know, just indulge me a moment here): "When you know better, you do better." I realize that some of my advice to you all has been from a place of fear and not thoughtful strength, and you all deserve better than that.

Here's to giving you better--and here's to you all, the next generation of architects--demanding better.