Architecture · Life · University

I’m Better Because I Failed

There are some things in my life that I reflect on and realise why it had to happen the way it did. One of those situations is the time I realised I was not going to graduate from University.

It was halfway through my first semester in my 3rd year (final year) of my Bachelor of Architectural Studies. When I told my parents, I said it was because of the terrible, sudden loss of my father just a few months before the Uni year started. Dad passed away in October 2013 and I failed a subject because I didn’t complete the assignments. BUT…I didn’t mention that I had also failed 2 more subjects in my first and second year, which was the real reason I knew I wouldn’t graduate because I couldn’t make up 3 core subjects in time.

After knowing I wasn’t going to graduate, I then went to the Philippines before I completed my Studio component in the first semester of my final year (I told mum I did finish it) and that was worth double credits and also another core subject…so technically I failed 3 more courses…(ouch HECS debt!)

Why’d I let it happen? Even though I didn’t intend for Uni to be less of a priority in my life, I just kept putting other things first, so naturally I fell behind.

When I got into Uni for my first preference I was so excited, but I soon learned that architecture didn’t come naturally to me unlike everything else I had done in my life. I had to work really, reallyyyyyy hard to achieve an average grade, and that was so strange for me. Throughout primary and high school I was always achieving high standards while balancing a bunch of extra curricular activities in my free time – I was the ideal student. However, when I got to Uni I honestly think I just loved the freedom and was way too involved in my social life than my assignments – because I had NEVER done that before! I was always the nerd that stayed home to study and practice piano.

First year of Uni was also the year I turned 18, was feeling pretty boss coz I was officially an adult and all I wanted to do was party and stay out all night. I don’t mean this in a “gettin crazy” kinda way. Yeah I was out til early hours of the morning..usually chillen in a carpark (coz apparently that was cool), at the beach or the occasional stealing traffic cone sesh and stashing them in mums backyard scenario, but those nights turned into lifelong memories that my friends and I still look back on and pee our pants laughing about it. The certain friends I shared all these adventures with I don’t get to see very often anymore because life turned out differently for each of us, but we’re still very dear to one another! The first year or so of Uni should have been an educational growth spurt for me, but instead I grew in other ways, made life long friends and just took the time to figure myself out…and I wouldn’t take that time back just for a scheduled graduation.

SO after my irresponsible study habits caught up with me, and after losing dad, I had to stop and consider where my life was going. I wasn’t “off the rails” I just knew that I wasn’t committing to my studies and I had to get serious. I scheduled a meeting with the course coordinator and decided to finish off the rest of 2014 as a part-time student and repeated a failed subject. Then in 2015 I completed the rest of 3rd year part-time, did an intensive elective over the winter holidays, repeated the rest of the subjects I failed and finally had enough credit to graduate. It was honestly the hardest year ever because I didn’t get to graduate with my friends and I was with a new group of students who I believed were way better at everything than me. I just felt so far behind in my studies because when my friends were pumping out renders on Revit for the first time I was just barely scraping by with my hand sketched perspectives that I drew the night before the assignment was due because I was out all weekend with friends.

But, I soldiered on and 2015 was the year that I slowly but surely figured out how to do cool stuff on Revit, I filled up my sketchbook because I went to every lecture/tutorial (give or take a couple) and I didn’t let my focus shift.

A huge part of the reason why it was easier for me to concentrate at Uni was because Kieren and I had gotten married in January 2015…before Uni started. We decided this would be the best time for us even though it was only going to give us 3 months to plan a wedding. So because I didn’t feel like I had to go out every night to see my friends or boyfriend..which Kieren was back in the beginning of 2014, I stayed home and studied. We both did!

As weird as it may sound my life would have turned out so differently if passed Uni the first time and graduated in 2015 like I originally planed. I know that I needed to sort of rebel a bit while I was studying because I made mistakes and I had to figure out how or if I wanted to fix them. Quitting Uni was never an option forย  me, even though I wondered if I was ever going to finish my degree…my parents definitely told me that I wasn’t going to lol…I knew that eventually I would make it. And I learned so much about myself, I got an extra year to figure out Revit and everything has fallen into place.

Now I’m in my final year of my Masters! This is my 6th year at Uni and I can’t believe how fast its gone…even with repeating a year! Looking back now I know that all of the things that derailed me from finishing Uni on time..the good and the bad stuff, it was necessary for me to go through. And while I believe so strongly that education is one of the most important things to have, sometimes you can’t put it first because life gets in the way, and that’s OK.

I’ve often wondered if architecture was my “calling” in life…sometimes I thought I should have just stuck it out with music like the 15 year old me dreamed of. But I feel like I’ve really earned the whole architecture thing because I started from scratch. I knew nothing in the beginning, it took me so long to understand the concept of a section, Revit was like the flipping devil and every time I opened the program I knew the computer could sense my fear. But with every assignment I had to do (in 2015 when I finally had my life in order lol)… I pushed myself just that little bit further, I did countless test renders (thank goodness I was told about cloud rendering!) and I experimented more and more with drawing on the computer and by hand. With each victory I had I would show Kieren and he’d tell me how realistic it looked ๐Ÿ˜› Not only that, he often stays up with me gaming on the PS4 while I’m on the computer drawing a ridiculous amount of detail lines so that I don’t feel alone. It’s a win, win situation when we pull all nighters together haha

Graduation of my Bachelor’s Degree 2016. Mum was so proud she didn’t want to let go of my certificate haha โค

I just look back now and think it was all worth it…like I regret nothing, even failing. I’ve come out of that experience as a way stronger person and designer because of it. Now I’ve got 2 semesters left and I cannot wait to get stuck into it! This really was one of those “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” situations and I really believe that everything happens for a reason. At the time we don’t know what that reason is but later on it becomes clear ๐Ÿ™‚

– Liv xx

…and here’s some of my work I’m proud of!


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