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There has been much discussion raised about "Why are women leaving Architecture? and more broadly, Why is the profession losing key talent?"  Both women and men practitioners are disillusioned by the myth of work/life balance: Women are grappling with "have it all" expectations of juggling family time with the demands of full-time work.  Men are struggling to support their families solely on an architect's salary and fall back on asking spouses to maintain their jobs. The lack of affordable childcare and high cost of living only magnifies the challenges.  How did we end up in this modern family dilemma? What can we do to improve the situation?

Dear Zaha - Leaving without notice.

by Raya Ani, AIA   

Leaving without notice!

As I am working on what might become the most important project of my life.. with a very tight deadline and the ambition to do just the right thing.. everything has started to daunt me….doubts…. sleepless nights.. my energy is draining out....

I am exactly at a moment where the confusion is high...and when you want to say so much yet you know you are not able to say much..

The pressure is on.. I feel like I am failing my team who are looking up to me to guide and inspire them..

I feel vacuumed out.

Last night, after having a spirited conversation with Susan in New York, I hung up.. on FB... I saw the news.. Layla, your post came first.. I was in shock and disbelief..

Tears rushing down.. I was in another world.. trying to pretend I am together to finish what I had to....tears would just not stop…Here I am trying to resolve something on the project that is taking days to resolve…yet it is not happening.. and I just won’t give up...however my heart is mourning the loss of you..

Remember when you were at Harvard presenting and you were wondering whether the slide was put the wrong way.. you asked: 'Is it upside down?' You definitely turned the world of architecture upside down.. we all sure of it.. we definitely know you are one of a kind.. and for me you are beyond architecture..

However my connection with you is multilayered…. You being an Iraqi, you being an architect, you being a woman, you being a different type of a woman.. and everything that comes along with it… From being constantly criticized for being different, inconvenient, uncompromising, tough and the incredible pressure to conform… I know many would appreciate your mark in the world of Architecture, however only few truly understand the painful sacrifices you have made and how you had to be to withstand..

I know that part of yourself that at times becomes inaccessible to others, including yourself…This gave space for some to criticize you..

I know you had a colossal task to undertake on our behalf, some knew it and some didn’t!

I probably know a little of what it means to stand solid in the face of any doubt, when the world outside doesn’t validate your ideas and they didn’t for a very long time.. and what you needed to become to storm through safety nets to hang out there..

A mission you continued to do courageously... a vision that required you to numb other parts of the self.

As I strive to gather myself to continue.. I can’t help but think that you must have left at the right time.. otherwise why would you leave without notice!

This timing might mean something different for each one of us..

For me.. you are probably asking me to pull it off when I feel the weakest and not to give up… I think you might be asking me to continue the journey, to carry the spirit of what you stood for…I know our styles are different, but our purpose I know is the same….

I wish I had hugged you before you left.. a hug that is larger than life…the hug where you stretch your arms all the way back.. the hug I gave my family as a kid in Iraq whenever they ask me to show them how much I love them… to show the biggest embrace..

I guess when the time comes, we pass our spirit down.. and at times, it comes without notice..

This submission was a repost from Raya Ani's Facebook Page

Leaving without notice! As I am working on what might become the most important project of my life.. with a very tight...

Posted by Raya Ani on Thursday, March 31, 2016