Stand and deliver
“You’ve been working your ass off for a full year on the promise of a reward” and guess what? you get nothing! And now you’re feeling the mental equivalent of getting slapped in the face YAY!
Feels great, huh? Yes? You’ve been forcing yourself to do things your only reason to care about them is yourself. You wanted to prove you can be good at doing those things, and you did, but that’s how big a bitch, life can sometimes be.
So, is it time for the moral of the story? Nope, not even close it seems. Here’s a little (little? lol) history. I’ve studied Architecture, regardless of how or why I did that but I did do it. And it clearly wasn’t the right choice, but it’s there, it’s part of me now. And I’ll kill myself before I let that go to waste. I am using that architectural side of me unintentionally and it’s built into my being now.
I tried what architecture has to offer me for more than two years and even though I wasn’t telling it to myself, “I was not cut for this.”
I went through four years of architectural studies and I got to see how interesting and impactful it is. How it can alter people’s experience and behavior inside the built and the open space. But I also learned that in order to be a good successful designer, which was the ultimate goal of the whole masquerade, you must stop caring about the little details because, honestly, they’re not and they won’t be your problem. You just have to hide your flaws behind a curtain and wave everyone towards the flashy parts. Whether this is wrong or right it doesn’t matter, what matters is that this was my experience and there was no way I would let myself do the same.
I’m a problem solver, I detect problems, I notice irregularities, I feed on discrepancies and I find myself challenged to fix and make things right. I find it weird when someone shows me their design and asks “Look at this, what do you think?” and most of the time I say “Oh, this is nice” while my eyes are looking for harmony, or lack thereof, in proportions, patterns, colors, shapes or the vocabulary used. Good architecture doesn’t impress me at first glance. To get a decent critique out of me, fill me in on what you were trying to do. Tell me what’s the story behind what I’m looking at and I’ll tell you if I think you nailed it or not. If architecture taught me anything, it’s that you can find beauty in each of any two opposing extremes. Light can be beautiful, and Darkness too. Chaos is a powerful expression, order is too. Both symmetry and asymmetry can be captivating. The square does not always win versus the circle nor the linear versus the curves. It’s the role you’ve set for each to play in your design. So my “Oh, this is nice” reply actually means “Nothing here is irritating, it’s fine” when you don’t give context. That’s why design wasn’t my forte, Drawings were. Precise details drawn to the millimeter. Perspectives drawn digitally to perfection because I wanted to see if the techniques worked without the factor of human error and approximate calculations. My strongest suite was my computer skills, my familiarity with AutoCAD, my ability to find solutions and workarounds and ways that take away huge chunks from the mundane-ness of mundane tasks. I was eager to create flawless intricate drawings with none of the flashy tricks that made my colleagues get ahead. My moment of pride was whenever someone zoomed into my drawings, gasped and raised their eyebrows, usually accompanied with the exclamatory question “You did that?! Seriously?!” This is what pushed me further. This is what helped me survive those four years of misplacement, and this is what I carried over with me to work.
At work, this distinguished me because I’m patient when everyone else is short-breathed. I do the things people despise because they’re boring. I take the repetitive tasks that everyone hates because they hate how they make mistakes when they lose focus from the repetition. That’s when they carelessly rush the task solely for the sake of getting rid of it, and because they can’t streamline their process they instead think of how they can cover their tracks, relying on the fact that when it backfires, someone else will handle the damage. This creates a false sense of “speed” versus “accuracy”. For me, accuracy is a priority, always. But it’s not the case for every task or every project or even every stage of every project. That’s why I take my time with the things other people finish quickly, not because I’m slow but because it needs time to be properly done, definitely not because others get it done faster. And through my two years, I’ve learned to ask the question “Do you want it done? or do you want it done right?” in different ways. If a certain level of accuracy or quality is not required and can be dismissed, I lower my target accuracy and just point out findings of any irregularities as I go or when I’m done.
Being that kind of perfectionist makes me seek ways to make my life easier. If I’m assigned to a task that requires me to click 7 different things for a hundred times, I think of the best route for moving my mouse for the first 5 iterations. Then I try to see if I can press a button on the keyboard that saves me 2 clicks and some mouse movement for the next 10 iterations because if I get my way, I’ll be clicking 500 times total not 700, cutting mouse movement, decreasing mouse misclicks and using my left hand simultaneously on the keyboard with the right hand on the mouse. I make the process more efficient minimizing error, allowing me to focus more on any varieties in each case I’m dealing with. I like to know the keyboard commands for everything I do in AutoCAD because clicking buttons takes my eyes off the drawing area. I watch my coworkers while they’re working because I’m wondering how they handle certain sequences of tasks. I ask questions like “why are you doing this and this?” and even though at first they can’t believe I’m asking about something that’s usually naturally overlooked and seemingly intrinsic to everyone who uses AutoCAD or Word or Excel or whatever, they end up thanking me when I get to complete the question with “you can do that instead, makes it easier”.
I make everyone’s life easier. My familiarity, experience and knowledge with various softwares makes me the go to guy for any helpful tips, bug fixes, problem solving, weird PC behavior and sometimes lazy daydreams. Countless are the times people from our department wished they could fix this or modify that without doing it line by line, word by word or cell by cell and countless were the times I made it happen. I made the whole department more efficient by decreasing the time they spend doing mind-numbing tasks, buying time for other more important stuff, eliminating the psychological barrier between them and the boring task they saved for last. If a program does something I probably know about it, and if I don’t know about it I know how I can find out about it. Combined with my knowledge of coding and how computers work, I do not fear technical forums when a very specific problem occurs. I’m better suited to solve problems related to the work we do in the different softwares our department uses than the IT people who aren’t familiar with these softwares. Every team needs someone who can troubleshoot AutoCAD/Revit problems and provide support on engineering related content, bridging that existing gap with his understanding for both. I witnessed what happens when everyone patches up their work to “look” okay than actually solving it, thinking it once they hand it over to the next person/party responsible of carrying on, it won’t be their problem.
So these are my points of strength, this is what I had to offer for the last two years. What I probably did wrong was that I probably didn’t show it off enough because frankly I hate to show off. But people know how helpful I am, I just don’t make a big deal out of it. People have felt my impact but sadly the decision makers haven’t. And because of this I don’t get what I deserve. I now find myself forced to do so because apparently in corporate life, you have to blow the horn every time you deliver. And hell did I deliver but every time I threw the horn away.
I’m a half burnt match but I’m gonna play your game, you promised nothing but that, so you better “stand and deliver” whatever you have for me.
And hard feelings for those responsible for my under-appreciation.