December 30, 2014

My year learning Improv


I just want to say, sometimes it’s good to find that hobby outside of Architecture. For some it’s going back to sports, or meeting with creatives, or creating music. For me, I am happy to discover the world of comedy. So I (being Ross) wanted to get with Improv (my Julie) and wanted to call a break with Architecture (my Rachel, see what I did there!)




2014 was the start of quest to find out who am I besides “Architecture Me” with the grace of some disposable income. Instead of jumping right back to university to get my M.Arch in a hastily manner, I wanted to take a detour. This detour is a project of self-discovery and healilng. My heart was not into applying for grad school this past year, and I will consider grad school when I truly desire to and when I feel like I have professionally and personally prepared.

I wanted to figure out what skills and hobbies that I would be able to do that has NOTHING related to Architecture. After going through 6 years architortured in design school, I definitely did not want to become a one-dimensional parti. Through all those years in undergrad, struggling and being mired on just working through my degree, I asked myself what is the point of pouring all your efforts to find yourself flustered down the road. Is it truly worth chasing your dream career but forgetting everything else around you? I did not want to see myself going through graduate school and internship and licensure and looking back in my 40s thinking that I wasted all this time following the status quo and not knowing a life that was worth living.

I took up classes in improv comedy after trying a couple of drop-ins by a local comedy troupe when I was job hunting. I decided to take a step further by enrolling in different improv schools. Heck, I even up the ante by going up on stage during open improv shows this past year (which I plan to do more often in the new year). I was willing to step out on stage, not knowing what was going to happen and take risks. I have had my nights of success and failures. I look back at my stage blunders as a learning experience and even laugh at them. I am fortunate to have found a life outside of work and architecture that i never had in school. I am regularly checking out shows featuring the brightest comics at across different bars in town.



A year of comedy classes has brought me friends, laughs, even valuable lessons that can be applied to my personal and professional life. Embracing failure, better communication, collaboration, listening, and existential stuff (truth vs. reality, reality is what you create) are some of the cool things Improv has confronted me with by throwing myself up on stage (it is sink or swim in improv). I've gotten nerdy on improv to the point that I even read books and went to talks *cough* lectures *cough* just as much as I would read books on architecture and attend lecture series as an architecture student (which is not much, but significant).

Just like many others I have met, the world of Improv has become a sort of therapy for those making meaning with their personal adversities. Improv has healed the overworked, the stressed, and the anxious who needed a laugh. I am still insecure and traumatized from my experiences in architecture school. But my hiatus is more of a period of recovery and improv has helped me with that.

Has improvisational theatre truly changed me? I think yes and no at the time of this writing. I have learned that it requires hours and hours of training to be at the level of the pros. For others, it is a gift that they can easily do, while for others it takes time and time to practice.  It takes years to be a really good improviser to the likes of the ones we see on TV or to pull an improv show others are willing to pay and watch. Even so, pros have their crappy days from time to time.

I think I have improved from how I was a year ago - . Others see me more lighthearted than ever. Improv has made me happier and got me to laugh more instead of fret. The glaring difference is analogous to day and night: back then in colleg, I woeuld sometimes stress myself to tears in the architecture studio because I felt like I was gonna fail or my designs sucked or I would never achieve being the best. Today, I would sometimes laugh to tears in comedy bars because of a really good improv scene I am watching for its shear absurdity and wit.

I hope for all the architecture students reading this, find out your passion and interests outside of the field. It doesn't have to be improv, but something that you can have fun doing outside of the field. You'll need it when those days get stressful and when you need a break from work and school.

Cheers to a prosperous 2015 and seek forth your passion and joy.
The Underdog Architecture Student

RELATED POSTS:
Lessons from Improvisational Theatre
More to the world outside of Architecture.

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