Why can't everything be like that? Why can't we do what we love without holding back? I graduated with a BFA in Theatre Design and Technology with an emphasis in Lighting Design. This may not have been the best career choice for me to be guaranteed a job when I graduate, but guess what? I don't care! I went to school to learn more about what I love. I'm one of the lucky ones. I knew exactly what I wanted to go to school for and I stuck with it for the four years I was there. If you have no idea what career path is calling you then I would encourage you to dabble in a little bit of everything until you find it. Wouldn't you rather spend your life loving your job and excited to go to work every morning rather than going for the money and the benefits? I would.
Lighting chose me. In high school we didn't get to experience lighting design at all because we had someone come in and do it. But that was my favorite part of the process. I loved the hang and focus and seeing the stage transform into a piece of art with brush strokes of light and color and shadows. I would stay till three or four in the morning helping out with this process because I loved it so much. Even though I knew nothing about the design aspect of lighting, I knew that's what I wanted to do. And that's exactly what I did. I could have easily gone into business or communications as my major because I'd have a better chance of getting a job, but I didn't care. I'm glad I followed my heart instead of my head.
I remember when I did my first lighting design in college, I was terrified. What if I chose this major and I can't even do it!? What if my design is horrible and they have to have someone else completely redo it? Luckily I had an amazing mentor helping me and encouraging me along the way. He had a few suggestions (Blue is not sexy) and even more praise for my work. When the show opened everyone thought I had done a great job and I felt so relieved and so happy. I could do this, and I would do it.
I'm not saying it's always easy or fun, but when you see the end product it is always always worth it. For someone who isn't particularly fond of the dark I certainly spend a lot of my time in it. Some shows/dances write themselves, but others you have to make deliberate choices for every single cue. I love what I do. When there is a beautiful dance onstage without lighting, that's all it is, a beautiful dance. When I add lighting to it, it becomes a performance. It becomes art and it completely changes the entire mood of the piece.
There is an amazing book called The Alchemist by Paul Coelho that I would encourage everyone to read. I probably have about 50 dog-earred pages in this 177 page book. I want to share a passage with you where a king is talking to a shepherd about destiny:
It's what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their destiny is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their destiny. It's a force that appears to be negative, but actually shows you how to realize your destiny. It prepares your spirit and your will, because there is one great truth on this planet: whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it's because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It's your mission on earth. The Soul of the World is nourished by people's happiness. And also by unhappiness, envy, and jealousy. To realize one's destiny is a person's only real obligation. All things are one. And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.
So as Aerosmith put it: Dream On! Make your dreams come true! Believe me, I know sometimes they take longer than you want them to, but work on it anyway. I'm working in auto parts right now while I fight my way towards my dreams. Don't Stop Believing because even Crazy Dreams can come true!