Tonight was so amazing. Ryan Swanson and myself (Mark Perrett) were selected for an Architizer A+ Award with our “Marimba Bench” Urban Conga project “Why Sit When You Can Play”.
We flew out to New York City to accept the A+ Award and are so humbled we were able to spend time with some of the most intelligent, creative, and influential people within the architecture community.
I wanted to personally thank all of you who have supported myself and The Urban Conga over the years. You are such an important part to the journey. We are excited to know that what we do matters to people and we will continue this journey to make the world the most fun it can be through design.
so i really want to take architecture but my mom doesn't want me to take it. what should i do?
“WHAT TO DO WITH MY LIFE: I say yes, mom says no.”
This is a tough one, but let’s take a ride together.
Picture yourself 10 years from now. You listened to everything your mom has said without reservation. You followed her every suggestion without question or putting up reasons of your own for why you want to do something that goes against her wishes.
You could be in a really good place, you might have a house and kids working a really well paying job somewhere… And hating every minute of it.
The people who love us sometimes can really be the most influential in making us give up our passion. I’m not sure why your mom doesn’t want you to do architecture, but what I do know is that whatever else she wants you to do it is because she thinks it is a better route for you. Maybe she thinks you won’t be as successful in architecture as you could be in something else, and as a parent, that has to be one of the scariest things about having children. Making sure you guide them safely into a successful future. The problem with that is there is no risk involved, and it is almost impossible to do something you love without risk.
I could go on and on about making decisions for yourself, but I really just want to tell you a story…
When I was in High School, over 10 years ago, I wanted to be a Music Educator. I loved music more than anything and I knew in my heart it was for me. I was intoxicated by music, the very sound of marching band got my heart going and I was good at playing and teaching too. It wasn’t just a passion, it was something I saw myself doing for the rest of my life. Others would kill for this kind of conviction in a life path as a High School student. But then something happened.
Everyone told me not to pursue this path.
Every influential person in my life told me that being a “Band teacher” or doing “Music” for a living was “not practical” or “I could be so much more!!” And so I listened. I had people left and right telling me I was amazing and could be something so great, my potential was so much more than just being a music teacher.
So I quit.
I quit the garage band I was in (which that band actually broke up and reformed as a popular band now called “A Day To Remember”) and I quit marching band, symphonic band, jazz band, piano class, EVERYTHING. I quit cold turkey and decided to get into Architecture School.
Everyone told me that was the way to go! “You’re so good at drawing and Architects make a lot of money! More than teachers make!” So why wouldn’t I get into Architecture? It sounds like I could draw a lot and get paid well, I’m in!
And off I go into the next 7 years of my life. I helped with a few band camps here and there, but my life became consumed by architecture. AND HOW WONDERFUL IT WAS OMG!! I learned so many things, I traveled the world, I met some of the most creative and intelligent people I’ve ever know in my life, and I became the person I am today.
But something was missing…
Life for me was great. I graduated with a Master’s in Architecture, My thesis made the judges cry and the crowd stand and cheer, I was inducted into the Alpha Rho Chi architecture fraternity, and seen among my peers as one of the most influential designers to ever come out of our program. I mean hell I even made a blog called “Tips for Architecture School” that is now over 150,000 followers strong, recognized world-wide, and still holds a position as a Tumblr Spotlight Blog for last 4 years.
But I was never in love with Architecture as I was with music. I thought it would change, but sometimes you can’t control what you love.
I got out of school and while all of my friends were going off to join firms and continue their paths towards becoming an architect I did not. I couldn’t shake the urge to teach music. It was something inside of me that was now screaming and kicking its way out. So I went and got a job teaching at a local band program.
After 2 years working as a percussion instructor, our band went and competed in the Bands Of America Grand National Championships.
…and we WON.
We got first place in the Nation. And I am only saying that first because it is a credential that reflects what really happened behind the scenes. The real magic was in the lives I was able to change, the people I was able to push to new limits, the adversity I helped people overcome, and the family I became a part of to accomplish all of these great things. My heart has found its home and every day I get to change the world in my own little way through my students.
Since then I have published 4 books about drumming, which have been accepted into the percussion community and are purchased and shipped to over 10 countries worldwide. And I now teach music for a living. I wake up every day excited to live my life. And it may not pay as much (not even close) as what I would be making at an architecture firm right now with my degree. But I couldn’t see myself hiding anymore from my true passion.
All was not in vein though. It might not seem like it, but Architecture School was one of the best things I could have ever done. I have even taken my design knowledge and mixed it with my passion for music to help Co-found a design and innovation non-profit organization called “The Urban Conga”. One of my designs incorporates public space design with the marimba instrument. We have created a form of hybrid architecture. In fact, our most recent client was the Tampa Bay Rays Major League Baseball Team. We helped remodel part of their stadium (Tropicana Field) with a design that uses my musical bench idea.
So I made it all work. I took a 7 year detour from a path everyone told me not to take. And you know what, it wasn’t really a bad detour at all. In fact, it was pretty amazing.
So back to you and your mom. She says don’t do architecture, but you say yes. The real question is, does architecture intoxicate you? Does the very thought of design make you weak at the knees? Because at the end of the day, your decision has nothing to do with your mom, and everything to do with what you love. That is the hardest part. Find out what you love, it doesn’t matter what it is, but find something that you can’t live without and do that. And if you can’t find that thing, it’s ok, because if there is anything I have learned from making the “wrong decision” about my life path when I was coming out of high school it is this:
What you do day to day makes you who you are.
So whatever you decide to do, just make sure you are doing it better than you were the day before and you will always be successful. Then, one day you will wake up and realize where you are supposed to be, but you have been successful every day until then, and that is what really matters.
I wish you the best of luck in your decision making. I know it is overwhelming right now but you are strong and will make the best of everything. Just keep swimming.