Saturday, June 22, 2013

Backstories .

Being young, it's always interesting to ask those who have more years under their belt how they got to where they are. Because in reality it's not really about where they are now, so much as how they ended up there.

Unfortunately, quite often the answer you'll hear is "well, I never really intended to be here. It happened by accident." Is the economy today so poor that what we want to do rarely aligns with our working reality? Or is it that the average person refuses to press on to achieve dreams? Are we lacking in motivation? Sometimes it's hard to sit down at the end of the day, after a full 8 hours of a job you're working because you need the money, not because you enjoy it, and try to tackle a "dream."

Back when I was a park ranger, I used to work summers at a place down the road from me. Being that it's a bit of a behind the scenes job and also not something where you sit at a desk with a shirt and tie on, it attracts an interesting crowd. But all the senior park rangers and principals that were there, at one point or another in time, shared their previous life plans, and none of them aligned with the fact that they currently were a park ranger. In fact, many had intended it to just be a job to help them get some money and get on their feet -- and ended up getting stuck.

Just yesterday I was talking with the electrician who comes to do a lot of the big deal electrical work we need at the club, and asked him how he became an electrician. Turns out, it was never something he had intended to do in the first place, either. Rather, he started working for his cousin when he was 14 years old during the summers, and began to slowly learn the trade. The first summer all he did was carry around the bags and containers of materials and learned all the parts, and has since progressed to what I gather to be a vast understanding of the necessities of electrical wiring. Like architecture, if it's not done right, there could be serious consequences. People depend on you to know your shit.

As I begin to reflect on these stories from other people, at times I question whether I will end up like them -- with a plan to work in architecture, but instead working something else just to pay the bills. It's no secret that architecture is not the most reliable field. When times are good, times are really good, and firms will hire lavishly to make sure that their work gets done on time and on budget. But when times are bad, you can just as easily be cut from projects, or worse, laid off. As a student, the stress of getting your foot in the door early and making connections are not mentioned nearly enough at the universities around the country (in my opinion, anyway).

While in the past, people often chose one career path and followed that for the entirety of their lives, it seems that today many get bored, or decide that they initially chose wrong, and often people have multiple careers that they pursue and undertake over the course of a lifetime. Maybe I'll be one of those people, or maybe I won't. In the end, I guess it doesn't really matter so long as you're happy. Lord knows I'm certainly not happy at the job I'm currently at. So maybe it's time to finally get off my ass and really pursue something else with vigor.


  1. What I love most about this post is that you take the time to ask people these they became this or that. Showing you care about their stories. That doesn't suprise me about you at all. You're good peoples Greg.

    1. Thanks Keith. I'm actually always genuinely interested in it. And if I can learn something in the process? Even better.


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