Sandy was a brilliant kid. School was a matter of course for her, she got mostly As without any major effort. What made Sandy special though was her affinity for music, and she truly loved it and it came to her naturally. Even as a middle schooler she would spend hours each day practicing her keyboard and guitar. It wasn’t hard work for her, it was her dream, she was drawn to it naturally.
Through high school people called her a musical genius, she was far above other students in her small school. People would tell her stories about how successful she would be in the future, they would tell her just how special she was. Her parents and teachers praised her endlessly. She got into a prestigious music university with little effort, with numerous recommendations from her high school teachers.
Now in University, Sandy definitely noticed the playing field had changed. She was still one of the best, but only one of them. There were others of similar dedication and skill. While she felt less special, she made fast friends with the other talented kids, formed bands, and even sold some music for real money online. It was at this point that she decided she wanted to be a professional musician in the music industry. The idea was set and she wouldn’t be dissuaded.
In University Sandy found she had a weakness in composing new music. It was the first time in her life she had ever really struggled. It never came out the way she wanted. When she compared her compositions to the best in her class they were mediocre at best. This really hurt, she wasn’t used to being second rate.
Time flies and soon graduation day came. Sandy still felt she was special, and wanted more than anything to work as a professional musician.
Sandy moved to New York, and shared a small apartment with four other hopeful kids. By day they all worked service industry jobs, like waiter or cashier. By night each had their own dream they would chase. There was a comedian, a dancer, a off Broadway actor. Each like Sandy felt they had a special talent, and each worked very hard to make it.
Sandy was in several bands, but none felt truly special. She enjoyed playing the live shows in NYC but year on year the long days were wearing her down. She had seen some lucky ones join bands that made moderate success, eventually enough to make a real living at it, but they were few and far between.
Roommates come and go, and a rare few of those had seen success as well. There was that one comedian who had opened for Jerry Seinfeld at The Stand, a dancer/actor who had gotten a prime role on an off broadway play. Only one had really made it, an actor who had gotten a reoccurring role in a popular TV show. Most ended packing up and going home back to where they came from.
Years rolled by but Sandy was unwilling to give up, she started a side business teaching music lessons to hopeful kids to help pay the bills. It started to eat into her live performance time but she was just sick of living three to a bedroom in New York.
By the time Sandy was 30 she had made quite a name for herself in the nightclub scene in New York. She had a lot of friends, and between her side job teaching and now managing a Dunken Donuts, she was able to afford a studio apartment all to herself. But she felt empty, this was not the success she felt she was destined for. That wide eyed kid she was thought she would take over the world.
She lived the rest of her life out at about the same way. Never breaking through to the success she wanted. She never got the winning lottery ticket. It wasn’t a wasted life by any means, but she never seriously considered any alternate paths around her and it led her to a narrow cutoff where very few even very talented people make it through.
What could Sandy have done differently?
- She could have gone to graduate school and taught music in university or high school.
- She could have become an online music persona. Started a Youtube channel and twitch stream, teaching or just playing.
- She could have taken programming classes and worked on music software.
- She could have pushed the boundaries in innovative computer generated music.
- If she explored more, she could have done something completely different. Maybe she had a innate talent for graphic design but she never tried it.
But she never set herself up for any of these opportunities, she never explored outside of music and developed synergistic skills. She assumed she would follow the normal path and success would come eventually. Unfortunately in these kinds of cases where a lot of people are striving for the same thing, it’s not just about talent or skill, there’s a good deal of luck.