The other day I was talking with a talented friend who is in 2nd year studio, and he was telling me he wasn’t sure he was cut out for architecture. It really surprised me to hear that he, of all people, had doubts about his design skills. Then I remembered that I prevalently had doubts about myself as a designer for the first three years of college.
Check out this video I filmed on overcoming self-doubt and growing as a designer:
(Glad you checked that out! I filmed it in John Portman’s Marriott Marquis in Atlanta.
Music: The Elevator Bossa Nova – Composed and performed by Bensound used under the Creative Commons Liscense)
I was constantly riddled with thoughts like,
“Am I good enough to do architecture?”
“If I have a bad review, does that mean I am not good at design?”
“I don’t know what to do. I’m not good at this.”
I felt like I was constantly struggling. I would look at other people, see something they did well, and feel inadequate about my own skills. It took me a while to realize that many of THEM were looking at the things that I did well, and feeling inadequate themselves.
The problem here is looking through the lens of, “what does this say about me?”
If my models aren’t as good as his, am I good enough to make it?
If my drawings are never as good as hers, then will I ever be a good architect?
I was caught up in my own vision of myself, and I wondered if I was good enough. I was too worried about my EGO. The big issue wasn’t even the quality of the designs. It was the confidence.
We were all NEW to design.
Consider that most architects do not hit their stride until they are in their fifties. If you are in school or new in the profession, you have a lot of time to improve.
Malcom Gladwell writes about the 10,000-hour rule in his book Outliers. He explains that researchers have found an emerging pattern: It takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a world-class expert in anything.
The savant pianist at age 20 was playing like a newb about ten years ago, but no one shamed her for it because she was 10 years old! Even though society may say you’re an adult, you might only be a 3-year-old designer.
So, 1) don’t beat yourself up. It takes time to grow and there are no ways to cut corners while developing yourself. 2) Stop comparing yourself to other people who may have doodled more than you back in grade school. They had MANY more hours practicing the thing they are good at (even if it didn’t look like ‘practicing,’ at the time)
So what should you do instead?
Developing yourself is the same as developing designs. Fail fast and fail often; focus on the PROCESS; and accept that it is going to take as long as it has to take.