As I’ve written on here before, my wife and I are in the midst of taking our registration exams. I personally know at least a dozen other people that are taking them right now as well and another few that have completed them within the last handful of years. The story is always the same: it sucks.
I have yet to meet some one that is going through the process or has already gone through it that says, “I really enjoy taking those tests and am glad that it is occupying a major portion of my life right now”. That’s not to say that they definitely don’t exist. If I ever meet a person that truly feels that way about the Architectural Registration Exams, it will probably be the same day that I give up on being an architect and enroll in Hogwarts instead (get it..?…Because both of those scenarios are so unlikely to happen…? You get it).
Yesterday, I took my latest ARE: Site Planning and Design. In general, throughout the ten months that I have been taking these tests, I have done my best to keep others from knowing when I am going to take them. I just really don’t want the added pressure of other people knowing about me taking them. I would have much rather walked into work one day and informed people that were wondering that I had taken a test and passed it rather than them knowing I was taking one, asking about it, and then having to tell them about my fate.
For this past test, I was unable to sneak around under the radar. Because I needed to take time off from work, it was on our office calendar. And because of this, people would consistently ask about the test and about my level of preparedness. Eight months ago, this scenario would have filled me with anxiety. I had already put a huge amount of pressure on myself to pass the tests on the first try and didn’t want the added pressure of people knowing. What if people found out I was taking one and then found out that I had failed it? Would they look down on me as a worse employee or person? That (over)thinking and apprehension has recently given way to a new point of view: indifference.
Indifference is probably not the right word. A sense of acceptance is probably more accurate. When people ask me if I feel prepared for an upcoming test (usually the day before said exam) my go-to response is something along the lines of “Well, I guess so. But, if I’m not, I guess I’ll just take it again…” with a self deprecating chuckle. I have no idea how people take this response. It seems like many times people see this as me not caring or even as arrogant. I would argue that this is simply my attempt at verbalizing my acceptance of the current situation.
One of the biggest differences in my approach to these exams now as opposed to the beginning of the year is that I no longer look at them as a challenge to be conquered. Instead, they are just something that we all have to get through. Before, I would put an unreasonable amount of pressure on myself to pass these tests. Now, the ARE is just something that needs to get done en route to becoming a fully licensed architect. This is probably over-simplifying the situation and makes me seem like the type of person that more closely resembles The Dude from The Big Lebowski. To say that I don’t get nervous the morning of a test or care greatly about passing them would be a total lie. I want to do well and I want to pass because I have worked for years to become an architect. I will say, though, that I have settled into a state of mind that these tests do not define any of our careers and are really just another speed bump that we must endure in the long road that is architecture.
If you happen to disagree with this outlook or just think that I am being naïve, well, you know, that’s just like… You’re opinion, man.