Originally Posted by aquinas
I'm curious what your current interests and experiences include, and what events surrounded your recent interest in music as a career. What steps have you taken to assess your competitiveness in music with objective sources?
Currently, I'm on my way to becoming a programmer (because I haven't been able to figure out anything else in my life, so why not I guess).

My interest in piano started about 5 years ago, although I only managed to get a teacher last year. It started when someone showed me a video of someone playing a song I knew well on the piano, and I was awestruck by the realization that you could play 3 or more different textures/voices at the same time at the piano, effectively imitating an orchestra. I really wanted to learn the piano, but people repeatedly told me it could not be done as an adult. So I figured I had nothing to lose by applying my idiosyncratic way of learning to this new thing, and it worked, better than pretty much anyone I know who's been self-taught.

Then, once I started shopping around for a teacher, it seems like teachers don't quite know what to say or how to react. In general, the consensus seems to be: It's incredible to get so far for someone learning on their own regardless of whether it's a child or an adult, and doubly so for someone who's an "adult" (well, still in my 20s), that I was able to teach myself fairly decent technique but it's certainly not as good as someone who had a very good teacher and foundation. That if only I had started as a child. Because we all know adults can never get really good at the piano.

But I play *poorly* by any objective standard! And this is frustrating me immensely. I get different feedback from different teachers. A teacher said that I was sort of playing at a university level (but I'm not sure if I can trust that). My current teacher thinks that I am indeed a beginner, but I do have some talent, and I've been working on basic technique, while simultaneously working on intermediate/advanced pieces. University professors will think I suck and don't have a foundation and should have started as a child, and ordinary teachers have no clue how to teach someone like me.

To an extent, polymaths just have to choose a lane and commit for a time to determine fit (Newton's method for life). In your early-20s, you won't have a sense of the degree to which life is fluid, or the extent to which new paths can be forged (and with what success or difficulty). Many of us here have multiple graduate degrees - and multiple careers. It can be done, and it's common.
It depends on how difficult the careers are. I think most careers are not that hard, someone for example can easily become a programmer in 1-2 years, or a manager if they do an MBA. If you already have a ton of experience in one field, you can jump to a related field.

But it feels like doing anything *interesting* in the world takes over a decade of solid effort invested in something, since childhood. Most jobs seem to be mundane, plug-and-play affairs where your job is to understand a not-so-complex system and do what's already been done.

How can you make this process easier? Do difficult things every day. Physically challenging tasks that shut down mental chatter and require mindfulness are effective for me. Practice doing something daily that you know you will fail at. Learn to crave failure and the opportunity to do better the next time. When new skills come easily, frustration tolerance is the relatively undeveloped skill.
I do things all the time I know I will fail at. The problem I have is that there's only so many hours in a day, that I'm not "talented" so I need to put in some 5-10 years of effort to get good at anything. And becoming world class is just not on the cards because I started 20 years too late. I feel like anything "big" I can contribute will already have been done by someone who started way earlier, and anything "small" seems pointless because it could have been done by anyone, so it's not using your talents at all.