I quit. I quit the endless nights, the nasty xacto-knife cuts, and the merciless project critiques. Yes, I was tired. But I learned what being a complete citizen was, one not defined by his profession. True, at times I’ve lost my way. But ever since my first days in architecture school, I knew that being an architect didn’t mean I would just design buildings. I would design objects, landscapes, structures, art, space.
My History of Architecture professor taught me the value of knowing about music to fully enjoy life. My Theory professor instilled in me a profound sense of rigour. He showed me the importance of critique and criticism, of both the “constructive” and the “just because” kind. The Design professor infected me with curiosity about art and drawing. We traveled together to cultural capitals of Europe and visited more museums than architectural gems.
Today I’m a lawyer, not an architect. To be honest, I don’t know what I’ll end up being. But the endless nights and the critiques haven’t stopped. And what I learned in those two years in architecture school transformed me, even when only one of my designs has seen the light of day.
An artist’s creativity and an engineer’s logic
A problem, even a legal one, isn’t resolved by mere legalities. It’s resolved by applying a variety of perspectives. It’s resolved with an artist’s creativity and with an engineer’s logic.
I have seen the value of being a polymath in the experience of several former law school classmates. Some are working as “architects”. But many are getting by, or even thriving, in other ways. Some are in “related” professions, but others in more distant sectors. Some of their labels are: industrial designer, digital UX designer, restaurateur, fashion designer, client-experience designer.
Of course, some professional detours are motivated by necessity. “It’s a tough economy and they have to get by however they can”. But put it this way: the breadth of possibilities is much larger if you know about furniture, music, spatiality, user experience, and fashion than if you’ve just memorized a book with laws written in it.
Among my fellow lawyers, the “lucky ones” are working in biglaw firms (some are happy, many aren’t), in small firms where they enjoy a little more variety, or in solo practices. Many are simply unemployed or grossly underemployed. This leads me to believe that lawyers today are in a tougher situation than artists and architects because our formation is one-dimensional and aren’t trained to see innovation opportunities.
Life is better if you know more
Life is better if you know more. The more you learn, the more tools you have to live. If you are a physicist and know something about biology, you can solve biology problems with physics knowledge. If you are a biologist and know about music, you’ll be able to compare biology concepts with musical ones to explain a complicated issue in a simple way.
But everything I’ve said up to this point can be summed up in the following way: if you need only one reason to acquire new knowledge and skills, just remember that doing will make you enjoy life more. Every time you learn something new. Every time you master a new skill. Every time you understand something that you didn’t before. Every time each of those things happen, you’ll be happier. Cheers.