I graduated from high school back in 2006, that means (if I’ve done my maths correct) it is our 10 year reunion this year…. Well I know it is because I was invited to the event, but hopefully I won’t be able to make it. I would be quite interested to see people’s reactions at the reunion, especially those who have ‘lost contact’ with me, especially in the last 6 years. Many, if not all, would be shocked and surprised at my current architecture journey because back in ’06 I had a completely different career path in mind.

You know those people who knew what they wanted to do as a career since they were a kid? Yeah I was not one of said kids. In fact I remember my first career goal being a vet, until I was informed I’d have to put down some animals… That upset me. Other notable career ambitions included professional skateboarder, professional BMXer and professional rollerblader, despite not having any skill or talent. I couldn’t even land a kickflip. Those ambitions opened up smaller ambitions such as skatepark designer and merchandise designer. Once I realised I sucked at skateboarding I looked at a career in video game designing, and the ultimate dream being a video game tester. Who wouldn’t want to get paid for playing video games? Keep in mind I was 15. Around this time I was also interested in graphic design, namely creating magazines.

One day I had a crazy idea, and for those who have met me in the last 5 years this won’t make any sense to you. During my final years of high school I had the goal of becoming a personal trainer… You know those fit, healthy people that help others get into shape? Yep, that is what I wanted to do. However that evolved from personal trainer to strength and conditioning coach. Yep, I was going to get athletes fitter and stronger… Keep in mind I was younger, and dumber. From there I toyed with the idea of becoming a sports scientist, which in reality was probably the most grounded option.

I graduated high school with a dream, it wasn’t set in concrete but I knew the general gist of it. I was going to be this famous fitness professional, I was going to work in a gym all day. Although the reality was it wasn’t going to be as straight forward as I hoped. I spent the next couple years working odd jobs, still wishing to pursue this dream. In 2009, three years after school, I got a talking to from a family member who laid on some rather harsh (but fair) truths. I was bluntly told that nobody would hire a (then) skinny person to help them get bigger and stronger. I was first taken aback by the comments, getting slightly angry but when I reflected upon it, it made complete sense. See for the last 5 years (2004-2009) I didn’t really have anyone question my goals or dreams, I didn’t have anyone pull me up or sit me down for a proper talking to. Given the circumstances I was in at the time in 2009, I guess it became too much for them to sit back and watch me go nowhere.

After that talk I felt lost, I felt dishearten, I felt like ‘well what the hell do I do then?!‘ I don’t remember the steps before but I remember looking at two professions written on a piece of paper, landscape architect and architect. I always had an interest in garden design, doing small landscaping jobs as a 14 year old, and even thought about pursuing a landscape trade but reconsidered (due to back issues), plus I read that landscape architects typically design skateparks. I also had interests in building and construction, with my father being a bricklayer. I was fascinated by the process of building a house and the ‘really cool designs’ I saw in magazines, and thought to myself ‘well I could do that….

If my future-self came to me in 2006, the day after graduating high school and said to me ‘In 10 years time you will be nearly graduating from the University of Melbourne with a Masters of Architecture‘ I would look at myself with complete confusion. No way would I have considered architecture as a career, and the idea of a tertiary education seemed almost impossible. BUT, here I am, writing on my architecture-based blog, studying at the Melbourne School of Design (with a completed Advanced Diploma and Bachelor) and fully immersed into the local architecture scene in Melbourne. What do I envision for when I graduate architecture school? Do I have a plan or anything set in stone? I know I want to be registered, start my own firm and travel overseas but how all that comes together, it’s anyone’s guess. Check for a blog post in another 10 years time where I map that journey.

Men are facing a health crisis that isn’t being talked about. They are dying too young, before their time. I’m taking action and need your help. This Movember, I am growing a moustache for men’s health. To donate visit my MoSpace here, any amount you can spare is greatly appreciated! And follow my progress on Instagram with the hashtag #thatarchmovember.

This post is part of the ArchiTalks series in which Bob Borson from Life of an Architect selects a theme and a group of us (architects who also blog) all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. This month’s theme is ‘Then and Now’  where everyone talks about what they thought they were going to be doing when they graduated versus what they are actually doing. Because I haven’t graduated architecture school yet I thought I’d map the journey from my last major graduation, high school.

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)

Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture (@FiELD9arch)
Where It All Went Right

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
From Then to Now…Residential Architect

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
Well, How Did I Get Here

Mark R. LePage – EntreArchitect (@EntreArchitect)
The Biggest Surprise of My Life as an Architect

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Then & Now…and the middle

Nicholas Renard – Renard Architecture (@dig-arch)
15 Years of Architecture

Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
then and now: #architalks

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Then-Now: A Schematic Story

Stephen Ramos – BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC)
Big Ass Buildings

brady ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
Pens & Fizzy Drinks: Or How to Set Measurable Career Goals

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
How did I get here?

Michael LaValley – Evolving Architect (@archivalley)
Reflection on My Wonderful, Unexpected Career

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice FAIA (@egrfaia)
Being the light in darkness

Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
The Joys of Being an Architect

Kyu Young Kim – Palo Alto Design Studio (@sokokyu)
Career Path: Follow Your Heart

Nisha Kandiah – TCDS (@SKRIBBLES_INC)
Then & Now : Still Chasing the Dream

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
The Reluctant Code Guru

Tim Ung – Journey of an Architect (@timothy_ung)
10 Lessons Learned from a Young Architect

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
#Architalks 22 – Then and now