This may be in the wrong thread, though it does have to do with band membership. I will also save those disinterested the time, by saying this is a personal reflection post of sorts. I may just be after a healthy dose of "copium" from fellow TB'ers, but I'd like to hear how others have tackled this. Everything I did since age 18 (and I mean everything) was a means to an end...that "end" being a career as a professional musician in some way shape or form. The dream was an originals band doing what so many dream of...getting signed to a label and touring all over for your supportive and excited fans. Any job I got (and pretty much any $$ I got too) went to gear, transportation (to carry said gear to rehearsal/gigs), rehearsal space rent, recording software, and basically anything else I thought could get me closer to that goal. Even my college degree and full-time job was the backup to cover me on living expenses and gear, with the goal still being that elusive gigging band and record deal. There were many weeknights spent at the rehearsal space until 3am, just 4 hours before I had to get up for work the next day. At the time, 10 years since I started playing, it still felt worth it. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but that seemed to be the last time I felt that magical drive to keep going. That band split, as so many past ones did, so that was nothing new to me. I didn't really notice it, but my countenance changed dramatically after. The drummer in that last band said I always had the craziest grin on my face when we played. The next 4 groups always asked me why I looked so serious when playing. I chalked that up to being tired, but I think it was more than that. A couple bands after that one I smiled in broke up, I went to get lessons from Andrew Pouska in Houston (fantastic teacher btw) to clean up my playing. Things were already on the decline before this, but one day we got on the subject of originals and he asked me to play some of my stuff. He said the songs were good and felt I did have talent as a songwriter, but then he asked me what my endgame was with music. I said I wanted to get a solid band together, write and play originals together, and hit the road playing all the gigs we could....my dream since I was a kid. He asked me in a roundabout way what kept me from doing that, and while there were/are some health difficulties to my life that require healthcare coverage to address, I said even if that wasn't a factor things didn't seem to pan out with various groups I'd joined or formed. He looked kind of solemn and told me if this were 20 or 30 decades ago, he'd tell me to save some money, quit my job, pack up my stuff, and set L.A., NYC, Chicago, or Seattle as my destination...go find some people to jam with and hang in there, because it would just take some time to get noticed. I could tell what he was going to say, that "Things really don't work that way any more", and for the most part he was right. He didn't want to say it was impossible, but selling out big venues was highly unlikely for even an incredibly successful band that started within the past 10 or so years. Making a living is tough even for very established bands. I was fine with ending up a backing bassist or even doing session work with some local gigging, but the hope of that big stadium show was still the dream. Things died on the vine quicker and quicker from then on, until I had decided to hang it up...at least in regards to forming a band. I was sort of numb to it until I was driving to an old band buddy's house (we didn't play anymore) and I heard a song with a cool electric organ piece in it, I thought "Hey! That would be something cool to try in a son----" and then it REALLY hit me. Felt like remembering an old friend had died. Writing or recording became pointless, if I couldn't gig or anything...why write or record music? Might as well cut to the chase and just focus on something else. Definitely an ego thing, but I felt that confidence and self-esteem I used to have just completely deflate. Felt like I had no place in the musician community anymore, like trying to participate would make me a fraud and a "poser". Days without playing turned to weeks and then months. Friends used to ask me about gear and such, but it got to the point where I'd even forgot what I had. I found a Tech 21 Blonde pedal buried in my closet, new in the box...never even used it. That's not meant to be a flex, I had just become that alienated from something I felt WAS my identity. I've focused on game development for the past couple of years, which has been pretty great, but it's not the same thing at all. Every now and then, I'd dig one of my basses out and turn on my incredibly dusty GK 700RB-II (had to look up the model number just now btw), but while it was cool to play around a bit, being rusty and forgetting so much just got frustrating for me. With the job I have now, there's barely any time to maintain a residence (rest goes to game dev.), so things feel even farther away than they did before. The past few times I "tried" again, it felt like dating an ex and hoping things would somehow "Be different THIS time", but it always ended up the same. To finally get to the point, playing may be cathartic for a little while, but even hooking up my old recording gear to fool around would seem a waste of space and time. I feel like over the course of 13 years trying, I've put in sufficient effort to at least get a run with some solid local gigs. I believe I've done enough squeezing and I'm deserving of a few drops of juice. I guess I'm in the shoes of the guys I used to laugh at...the people trying to relive their youth through bands. I'm not down to humiliate myself trying, but I think the "old me" is still alive and well, he's just irrelevant right now and not by his or my choice. Hate to paint a "no-win scenario" for people to chime in on, but that's the reason I've been so bummed about it. Despite all this, I still can't bring myself to part with my gear...which I believe is me still trying to hold on. Is it time to fold for good, or just play my hand until all my chips are gone? Was there a happy medium you found in time? Should I just be content spinning my wheels and not focus on hitting a goal? Tl;dr - When musicianship and being in a band has been so strongly tied to your identity for so long, what have you done when you know your goals won't be reached? Is coping just a waste of time or should I forego my dignity and just keep trying...no matter how ridiculous I may look or sound? Should I admit defeat, or just latch onto the hope that I could (no matter how unlikely) be a late bloomer? What has a reassessment of "success" and "progress" looked like for you over the past several years of trying to make it?