Since I was a child, all I ever wanted was to be a concert pianist. Perhaps I did not know what it really meant then, but at age 5, I was fascinated with classical music. My father played the piano and sang, and he brought music to our home. I would look out the window and watch the people going about their lives, half asleep in the mornings to get to their 9-5 jobs. My father went to his civil engineering job each morning, getting up with coffee in his hands. I thought I would not be like that, I am special.
But being different from my peers brought its own set of anxiety for a young boy. I was a runt before I spurted in my teens. I was bullied for my love for that “strange classical music” and was called names. After all, my classmates and cousins were into sports and rock and roll, often asking me to play Elton John, the Beatles and Bob Dylan, while ignoring the great masters.
I persevered nonetheless, summoning my spirit to continue taking piano lessons diligently. My mother was my biggest supporter, even if it meant traveling 30 miles from our home. It was a feather in my cap and a reinforcement to my devotion when I won my first piano competition by age fifteen, and went on to win more competitions one after the other, up and down the coast of California. I went home the day of my first big win with my cash prize and made a pact to myself that no matter how hard the road, I would never stop pursuing my love.