Emily, I can certainly relate to your situation. I always knew that I was a good player and excelled in marching band and drum corps. When I was a Senior in High School I attended Interlochen Arts Academy for 6 weeks as an exchange student. Man, talk about feeling like an outsider! This was the first time in my life that I really didnâ€™t fit in (these were serious musicians and outstanding players even in high school). I worked really hard to keep up in all of the ensembles there, but I was always just â€œthat guy from Arizonaâ€. It was a wake up call for me. When I was in college, I was â€œthe engineerâ€ that played in most of the top ensembles. Everyone else was an education major (and a couple of performance majors) and I didnâ€™t really get to know anyone all that well because we didnâ€™t have any other classes together. They knew I could play, but I was never really a part of that general community. In my engineering crowd, I was always â€œthe band geekâ€. I had some good friends in engineering, but I was always (again) on the outside looking in. When I accepted my first job in Phoenix, I realized that to fit in to the trumpet community in the Valley I would need to work exceptionally hard. With the Hickman studio in my backyard I really had to bust my butt to raise my overall level. I was always â€œthe engineerâ€ amongst a sea of â€œprosâ€, â€œgrad studentsâ€, and â€œband directorsâ€. â€œThereâ€™s the engineer thatâ€™s a pretty good player!â€ I eventually decided that I needed to put all of my energy into finding the sound that I heard in the best players that I had been in ensembles with. Over the last several years I feel like Iâ€™m finally just â€œthe trumpet playerâ€ when I show up to play. Thatâ€™s a really good feeling, but itâ€™s taken a really long time for me to get there. I can certainly relate. Hang in there. If you want to be a trumpet player badly enough, you will find your way to make it happen. Just keep your focus where it needs to be.