when you decide to seriously take up the art of playing bass.
Some came to the bass because they were tall and their junior high orchestra needed someone with the height to play the double bass. Others were frustrated guitarists who picked it up because they felt it was at least better then not being on stage with the band. Others sense a kind of novelty, but the novelty wears off after time.
You can see it when they play, and hear it too. One can survive by going through the motions, stay on the root note, keep decent time, and take your bows. You can tell, as well, when a person plays with passion, with the sense of pushing every possible sound out of four strings or knowing just the right time to place a note that changes the whole melody.
And if you are a bassist of passion, even if you are just beginning to play, you become identified with the instrument. Its always with you even when its on the stand at home. In a world of guitarists you are a rarity and people find you. On the street the tall instrument with the four strings always gets the first look.
Perhaps someone will grab your instrument and think they, because they can play guitar or mandolin, can master it. They usually play a few notes from one of their leads and then the realization sets in. The bass, especially the upright, requires strength combined with a delicate touch, a sense of time, and the ability to place notes not just where they can be but where they should be. Slowly they hand the instrument back.
That’s when the respect begins and those who know will understand.