Fan Bass: Passions & Careers

July 18th, 2011

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Bassnectar in KalamazooLorin answers another of your questions for our growing Fan Bass Q&A archive. If you’ve got a question click here to submit it, and as always feel free to discuss this thread below, and ask more questions or offer further advice to your Bass Head family!

QUESTION:

I recently had quite a scare and may not be able to attend the expensive private college I’ve worked really hard to get into. My mother asked me “what interests you in life, what do you like?” so that we could make a plan B, and all I could think was concerts. I LOVE light shows, Bassnectar’s in particular, and I always thought it was really interesting when we got a glimpse into the production of them in your tourcam videos.

Where on earth would one go to develop a skill like that? The light shows at a Nectar concert are top notch and I’m curious as to how I could get trained and involved in such a thing. This is totally unrelated to anything, and i didn’t know where to post it so I put it here. Thank you! – anon

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It is awesome that your family is encouraging you to think about this stuff. And I think maintaining a flexible approach to life is very smart! Be it “Plan B”, or “Plan C”, or “Plan D”, or “Plan A.432 – x(Plan C – Plan B)” ….stay flexible and think outside the box.

In reference to “what interests you in life, what do you like?” – I think this is a very good question to ask, and although I have no official “correct answer” I am quite happy to offer some insight:

First, separate this into 2 different issues.

1. What interests you, what do you enjoy doing, what makes you happy?
2. What is your plan in life for supporting yourself and developing a career?

The question of how to be a professional Lighting Designer is a totally separate question altogether, let’s address it at another time.

I think there are many more important things to learn before deciding one very specific or specialized trade.

The following is a very IDEALISTIC suggestion, so if some of this does not work for you, just see if you can glean anything useful from it and customize your own approach:

Spend the first two years after high school at a liberal arts college (i went to a ‘public’ university called UCSC in California), and explore a broad range of subjects in the pursuit of a well rounded education. Take literature classes, and study new perspectives and ideas. Expand your discussion skills, and practice thinking critically and comparatively. Take history classes, and see how similar humanity is to itself from generation to generation. Learn from our rich and complex past. Take anthropology classes, and study culture, learn how diverse and strange (yet also strangely familiar) other people are. Take sociology, and study society, communication, how people relate to each other. Take psychology, and study how the mind works, how thoughts and ideas are created, retained, and shared. Combine this with philosophy classes as you study what constitutes a mind, a personality, and how do personalities relate to the world around them. Take science classes, math classes, economics, business, communications, public relations, etc etc. Cultivate a richer understanding of our complex world, in part so that you can understand how you fit in, and what your options are for navigating through it successfully. (Maybe take a second and pause to define what “success” means to you, then check in with yourself about it periodically and watch how your definition changes from year to year).

Then decide* in general, would you rather pursue your ultimate passions in life in a single, comprehensive way? Or instead, in a dualistic way that separates the two?

This single, comprehensive approach would mean combining your career (how you make money, buy food & medicine, eventually afford a family or a house, …how do you PAY FOR all the necessities in life) with your passion (that which delights you on the most natural and basic levels, despite its monetary value: what would you enjoy most if you had zero financial concerns and could do anything you wanted?). By combining them, they become the same thing. So an actor or professional dancer is both following their passion *AND* supporting themselves at the same time.

Then there is the dualistic approach where you separate the two, and find a career that supports you financially, so that you can spend your free time doing whatever you wish (pursuing your passions, exploring new ones, whatever you wish).

*When deciding between the two approaches, keep in mind that as important as this decision is, it is ok to simply make the best decision possible, and if it turns out to be problematic, you can always try again in a different way, or make a different decision. A big part of life is learning from our mistakes as we constantly improve and grow.

(NOTE: Although I happen to appear to have combined my career and my passion, I would argue that I am a very rare exception to the rule, and while I am happy to share things about how I got where I am today, I think it is less relevant, because of the nuances and idiosyncrasies of my particular life and personality.)

So I would move forward by suggesting that you pursue the dualistic path, of pursuing both a career and a passion. And of course over time you can develop multiple careers, and multiple passions, and these can all overlap organically. But in reference to where to start, how to begin, and how to form a plan, I would suggest:

1. Attend a liberal arts university and pursue a rich, diverse education. Explore possible subjects and topics, build relationships with teachers and fellow students. Practice discipline by managing your work flow, and excelling at your classes. If you cannot afford a university, then research the best possible community colleges. Some people find really good ones (Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz is one of the best community colleges in the country) and choose to stay there as long as possible, transferring to an official University only for the final courses and degree. Others use it as a stepping stone to transfer into another college as soon as possible. Part of the success here is simply surviving the journey. At times college will be boring, lonely, painful, stressful, challenging, expensive, almost impossible-feeling, etc. But managing these tasks, and excelling at them builds skills within your personality that are invaluable.

2. Do what it takes: Many people need to work while they attend school, and this can also be a good thing, not only because you generate money, but you generate valuable work experience. You can learn how to be a good employee and follow directions, you can learn how to compromise and get along with other people you otherwise wouldn’t associate with. If you can afford the luxury, donate your time as a volunteer, helping people who otherwise could not afford your assistance. Or find a business, or artist, or organization that you are passionate about and become an intern. This is an excellent way to move forward as often times people cannot afford to pay you at first when you lack qualifications. But you can earn those qualifications through experience, making yourself invaluable as a volunteer, and inevitably moving forward to a paid position. Our own Ms. Lia Holland is an excellent example of this approach. Maybe she wants to share some insight too.
(I truly think apprenticing programs and internships are an increasingly wise and powerful alternative to college, but this is a loaded topic, not an easy one to quickly discuss).

3. Then, while working on your personality in a responsible way (meaning training, schooling, work, and all the things that will increase your ability to earn a better living in the future) I also suggest allowing yourself to simply explore passions. What do you enjoy? What makes you happy? Expand your community by joining or forming clubs and getting involved in things you enjoy. Read amazing books, or take some classes for fun, as a way to allow your mind to explore interesting topics. Spend less time simply partying, and more time building relationships, exploring recreational activities, and learning how to cultivate your creativity. Doing this in tandem with hard work at school (or a job, or an internship) is a healthy way to form a well-rounded personality.

I can see the initial fear of having to change your plans last minute, but not being able to avoid expensive private education is not the end of the world. Most people do not ever have this luxury in the first place, and there are many many many diverse ways of exploring yourself and the world around you, and experiencing a deeply meaningful and satisfying life. I suggest you set some goals for yourself, in conjunction with your parents or close friends, and also in conjunction with a counsellor.

Counseling is such a crucially valuable and understated practice in today’s society. Seeking guidance is a sign that a person is humble and curious, not arrogant and close minded. Find someone who is smart, professionally trained, can assist you in exploring your options, setting some goals, and follow along as time passes and you react to the way your life unfolds. Critical thinking is one of the most valuable tools you can cultivate (along with communication in general) because it is like a highway towards insight which you can use to improve your life in general.

Some specific suggestions:
1. Spend less time “seeking fun” or “partying” …while there is a special time and place for celebration, making it a lifestyle can have very negative consequences. Specifically avoid drugs or alcohol, and spend time strengthening yourself, your mind, and your body.

2. Find a good therapist or even a college counsellor, and begin identifying your strengths & weaknesses, forming some goals & objectives, and practice analyzing yourself with a constructively critical perspective.

3. Explore possible places you would like to live (weather, economy, social options, nature vs urban, etc etc) and see what colleges and job options exist in those places.

4. As much as possible avoid stressing or worrying about making the right choices immediately. Spend the next few months or years exploring what you life and what you excel at. Form good qualities like discipline, independence, dedication, critical thinking.

5. Prioritize your health (diet, exercise, sleep) as a basic way of staying disciplined.

Maybe some of this stuff helps…

It is just a stream of consciousness suggestion off the top of my head. It may be full of inaccuracies, or perhaps it applies less to you in your specific case. Just take it as one of many opinions, and see how it compares to your own opinion.

🙂
L