To Those Leaving Their Old Lives Behind

Six months into a graduate program at a music conservatory in Ohio, I made the hardest decision of my life. I had spent the previous 12 years training to become a professional cellist. It was the only thing I had ever known. All of my friends were classical musicians. Some were beginning to win major auditions around the country. I was surrounded by people more stubborn and more successful than me, and despite knowing that I had made the right choice in dropping out, everything around me was a reminder of my failure.

Over the next two years, I bounced from project to project, started running, tried several diets, read a bunch of books on music and philosophy and meditated frequently. I flirted with Musicology, and later, Music Journalism. I started writing in-depth music reviews and posted them to my blog. I was accepted into NYU for a self-designed degree in music scholarship, but the cost was prohibitive. I couldn’t stay in Cleveland as my friends all graduated and left. I left for Austin a month later, to start over from scratch.

In December 2013, I was looking over my roommate’s shoulder at his solutions to Project Euler problems, written in JavaScript. It looked exciting. I recalled making rudimentary websites in Junior High, before music completely took over my life. I picked up a little Ruby and started from Problem 1...

Finding a second passion is different than the first. I had been here before and was guarded against the waning interest that had smothered every previous endeavor. But I kept going, picking up JavaScript, CSS, and enough PHP to power through a WordPress theme for my blog. The learning curve was exhilarating and it wasn’t stopping. I subscribed to countless blogs on web design and development and I actually read them. I was becoming more savvy, started getting real Twitter followers and stars on GitHub. I fashioned my music blog into one about web development, and people were interested in what I was writing. I couldn’t believe it. After so long projecting my passions into the world, finally one responded. I was falling in love with the web.

Over 4 years have passed since I dropped out of conservatory. But I have found myself a new mountain with an even higher summit and people there cheering me on. I am lucky to have stumbled blindly into this profession that is so full of vitality, and I am proud of and humbled by my experience so far. When I left the classical music world, I took a dive into the unknown. My only insurance was my own resolve. Like the opening to the William Tell Overture, a lone cello projecting into the silence, awaiting its symphony.