To Apply or Not To Apply

By January 15, 2012Animation, Introspective

Many of you who know me personally are already familiar with the interior struggle I face with what profession I should be trying to chase. While I convinced myself of a choice last winter (basically one year ago), I still have remnant desires to test the thin ice once more.

I transferred from Architecture to the College carrying the fear in my heart that I would not be able to “make it” in the art industry, whether it be Architecture-related or not. To be truthful, I don’t really mind what area of art I’d get sucked into; I have no considerable preference for a particular focus  (though I’m pretty horrible at painting, no joke). The constant pursuit of creating better art and long-lasting creative process has been probably the most self-rewarding and addictive things I’ve experienced. Despite all this, following one’s passion could possibly diminish in the face of how such pursuits affect others.

I dearly want a family. That’s not to say I-want-to-find-someone-asap-and-have-smex-and-start-a-family-kind-of-family, but rather, I experience an infinite  joy every time I imagine carrying a daughter, or holding the hand of a son. The prospect of caring for a family that I love and raising children whom are my priceless princes and princesses fills me with indescribable warmth. If that made zero sense, what I’m ultimately saying is that I find the welfare and happiness of my (future) family as a high priority on my “what makes me happy” list.

Fundamentally then, family comfort is mostly directly related to financial support. Granted, more money does not necessarily ensure a happy family (since positive intra-family relationships are also dependent on each individuals personality and commitment to one another), financial means and stability provide for a considerably less stressful life.

Many adults I have talked to have expressed approval of my decision to pursue future financial stability and a means of supporting a future family. Such agreements probably stem from their ex-roles as children care-takers, since many of my friends and peers have expressed the opposite: disappointment, most likely a young adulthood sentiment most college students share. It may come as a surprise, but my unstable commitment to one profession over another is more related to what my how so many people, especially those close to me, have differing opinions of what they would do in my situation. I’m not nearly as affected by their opinion of me either way, but hearing out what how they understand the problem and would approach solving it seems always sound, no matter which side is being discussed.

So why bring a currently unsolvable issue? Let me frame a conflict that results from the same parent issue that I’m trying to resolve: Pixar.

I’ve applied for summer positions at Pixar for two consecutive years already (particularly one Undergraduate Technical Director’s Program spot) and drew no cigar either time. My second year, which was more successful than the first in that I received an interview opportunity, got me extremely excited as I thought I was one step closer to achieving a dream, but I let my nerves get the best of me and did not turn the interview to my advantage.

I never imagined I would rethink about reapplying after having decided to transfer to the College, but with the application deadline being relatively late (middle of March) and having nearly pulled through last year, I can’t resist the prospect of eventually succeeding. Several issues arise, though, since I am no longer “headed for an arts related” profession, no longer have teacher recommendations from relevant courses, and no new work to show since last year. The sole reason I would be applying again is to not let a childhood dream fully fade away and to satisfy my personal selfishness and longing to work at Pixar. Am I suffering from a similar problem that to a gambler’s addiction where they believe that they’ll win eventually?

Now, despite my high level of fanaticism and love for Pixar and everything they do, such convictions are not uncommon; there are thousands and thousands of Pixar fanatics and dreamers. I find it mildly, if not greatly, intimidating to read up and see so many aspiring animators who dream more heavily than me, by a hundred fold, of working at Pixar; their hardcore dedication and commitment to their work and sole obsession is frightening.

While working in Emeryville this summer would be a dream come true, is it even worth applying? With a weak portfolio, lack of a relevant recommendation letter, and not having the appropriate academic trajectory, is there any substantial reason to apply? What  if I get it? Should I go? Each summer I spend backtracking and mulling over past fantasies, I lose a foothold in the present and fall behind in my path to Medical School (not that that future is guaranteed, either). Logically, it is pointless to invest further energy in just hoping I get an opportunity to walk around Pixar’s Emeryville campus and meet the people who make my most favorite-ist films ever. Emotionally, however, if I were to pursue this pin-light of hope and opportunity and received the chance to go, I would with ever fiber of my body.

I was not expecting it, but my recent trip to California has brought up much confusion in my initial impressions with what I should be doing. My mother and I made an effort to travel out of our way to Emeryville and visit Pixar’s front gate. Unfortunately, the front gate was all I got to see (besides really poor pictures that I took in between fence bars) due to Pixar being a closed studio. Bummer. It was quite the experience, limited though it was. As we drove up Park Avenue, and the large PIXAR overhead sign loomed into few, my heart nearly gave out. It was both an imposing and inspiring gate heading, and my hands began to shake from the realization that I was finally seeing (the front gate, anyway) of my dream animation studio. Such an understanding was almost too much for me to bear and I stood, transfixed, as I was hit with wave after wave of emotions. Oh how much I yearned to have the clearance to drive/walk past the security booth and set foot on the actual campus. I could even see the trademark Luxo lamp and ball, albeit through fence bars and thorny foliage. My mother and I drove in circles (more like rectangles) around the Pixar estate and were dismayed as the area was blocked quite effectively by tall bushes and extraneous buildings.

Maybe I should just marry someone who works at Pixar…

We also stopped by a close friend of my father, whose family (the friend) has two daughters, both interested in art-related fields. It was immediately refreshing to discuss with the younger daughter her aspirations and view on the art industry, complete with its challenges, joys, and conundrums. Her optimism and steadfast dedication to what she enjoys doing is inspirational. I was moved and nearly convinced that I had chosen the wrong track, especially when she began offering to help with networking and talking to art-powerful-people she was familiar with from UMich, but immediately after presenting some new prospects to the adults present, I was converted to the opposite sentiments so disturbingly quickly that I felt stupid for having even entertained the idea of returning to the art field.

People have mentioned how I look healthier and happier now that my daily life is not consumed by architecture studio. And while I agree that I have had marginally better sleeping habits (hah…) and more free time for other hobbies, was the decision what you would have made? Though many would argue that working as a medical doctor or surgeon is not less stressful than a job in the art industry, the financial stability and level of the medical profession far outstrips that of the art industry.

If we let the definition of a “job” be the work that carries the household income and the “passion” be the activity or interest that sheds inspiration and life-revelations, should the focus of ones life be the job, or the passion? Sometimes, you can mix both, and those who are involved in the fine-arts are those fortunate chase their dreams. But does making your passion also your job possibly infringe the purity of one’s initial love of music or art, as only two particular examples? Do deadlines, clients’ opinions, and exterior criticism impede on one’s personal enjoyment of their past time? I’m probably more confused than a deer caught in headlights (if that’s a type of confusion), but hopefully, given time things will sort itself out.

P.S. After having read through this post at least twice and rewriting my thoughts in an attempt to write something more intelligent than warble-garble, I realize I’m still making hardly any sense, so I’ll post this as it is and hopefully fix it with greater sucess later.

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