Until I actually got into music and realized that it was more than enough. Being able to write and play music was in itself, it's own reward.
I started playing guitar at a very late age. I was already 15 when I picked up my uncle's battered classical guitar. But once I started, I never stopped. I'd skip meals, cut classes, stayed locked inside my room for hours on end, just trying to get that B minor seventh chord to sound right. I learned all the guitar parts to Nirvana's Nevermind album and wrote tons and tons of songs, filling up my trigonometry notebook in just a month (I never used it anyway). I'd save up my allowance so I could buy the guitar tablatures of my favorite Silverchair songs. I went through 5 cassette players because I would rewind and play the hell out of it just so I could play that solo part accurately. My fingertips would be sore from hours of playing but I would just put ice on it until they were numb, and continue playing for a couple of hours more. Back then, everything was new, the sky was the limit, and every chord and scale learned opened up infinite sonic possibilities. It was hard work and this was far from the sold out arena rock shows that I dreamed of. This was better.
Bands were the cool thing when I was in highschool. This was the post grunge era and everyone sounded (or wanted to sound) like Pearl Jam. But I never joined a band. After only a year of playing, I was already too concious of my skills, a trait that I never seem to have shaken off. Up until now, I am my greatest critic. I swore I would never join a band until I was confident enough that my skills, at the very least, sufficed.
College changed my mind. Being the only guy in class who could play (mediocre) guitar solos, I agreed to join. I was reluctant at first but I was very lucky to have met people who were more into creating their own music rather than playing other people's song. We spent hours writing and trying to improve our craft. There were no rules. We wrote whatever we felt like. We would work on a standard mushy pop song for whole week and then write an incoherent punk thrasher on the next. I always thought we sucked, but we had tons of fun. My notebooks filled with band logo doodles, my dream guitar and pedal setup, and the names of the songs we haven't even started writing yet.