One of the things that personally causes me the most amount of nightmares and the greatest amount of reflection is the concept of aspirations not met. This is one of those things that most people have in common. It ranges from cutesy fantasy, "I am going to marry Prince Charming," to the career driven, "I want to be a doctor," to the morbid, "I hope I get through another day." The arts, especially dance and music are often the most harsh of things to aim for since unlike certain fields which can be obvious and punishing, the arts lead a person on for years until only they can admit it's not something they are meant to do. This is going to be narrowed down to the realm of education since it's something usually relateable to most people, that and I myself do not focus on the first or last of the three examples. Personal experiences make for a good sounding board.
Usually at a young age we find an adult we admire and may wish to imitate them. The best form of imitation is through emmulating their profession. Most commonly these come down to doctors or teachers, but other fun ones include things such as astrophysicists (astronaughts!), archeologists (egyptologists (Indiana Jones)), or maybe a ballerina, or a movie star, and so on and so on. Often these are jobs that sound cool, far reaching and gain a person a sense of adventure or exposure. As we get older and know more about the world, some of those careers may sound out-of-our-league, boring (seriously, dinosaur hunters might spend 5 months in the desert just poking at dirt, how exciting...), been done to death and so on. Closer to completing high school and the questions of career and profession come up, and then it is time to decide. Some people really don't care, or have dreams neither viable or within their grasp. And others pursue until they can purse no further. Usually these are fields that a person thinks they stand a chance in, and might interest them a bit. Art is one of those really brutal exceptions.
The thing about being say, a chartered accountant is that in order to be hired as one you need a lot of training, education and experience to back yourself up. These are the type of jobs where higher education is required. If you suck, fail classes, you will not get a job and the world will instantly tell you and dash your hopes of succeeding. Art schools do the same thing, but a person can literally walk up to a person on the street and ask, "Can I paint your portrait?" and not need a degree. On the other hand someone walking up to you and saying, "Can I build your stock portfolio and invest it immediately?" will make anyone leery. Art requires no actual training to draw, and that's the biggest difference. As an artist, you are your own degree, and the material one produces as well. Since art is also so blissfully opinionated, then one person not liking something does not mean a person is not skilled at art, it could just mean the reviewer is biased.
Artists are a weird breed, the more traditional ones especially. They will try and try to get their foot in the door, and work for almost nothing to be recognized. Think of musicians, bands, dancers and the painters, and they all share the trait of either try and try until they can try no more, or painfully resign themselves to a hobby or job that will never make them as happy as if their art was their providing income. A million "no's" somehow never equates to a paper that says a person is not qualified. And then what does a person do if it's nothing but bad feedback? As mentioned before, the aspiration is placed as a hobby and forever put on the backburner as a lifetime of regret.
There are many types of regret, here one is time wasting, and another is not wasting enough time. The hard balance is giving up too soon on ones own accord. Some people are so afraid of the word "no", that rather than pursue something to an obvious end, they stop at the start. While a person can hate themselves for not being able to be what they desired, there is almost nothing worse than the naggging feeling during ones entire lifespan of how they could have done more. This is a universal feeling. It goes from relationships, to doing a good deed that wasn't played through, for saying something stupid. The chase never ends.
For me, this is a thing of way too much personal experience almost entirely tied into the career realm. I wanted to be a ballerina (5), marine biologist (7), high-jumper (9), commercial airline pilot (11), graphic designer (13), character modeler (18) and then I just gave up (was injured so badly simply because I tried too hard, ironic reward for pushing for something). The world told me "no", and it did so through crippling. Of the strangest yearnings, and of the things I think I could have pushed past was the high jumping. One was the shear denial, and the other came down to denying myself. From experiences, and talking with friends, I can guarantee that almsot anyone entering post secondary will come out the other end with one of the two experiences. Been there, done that.
The saying goes, "You never know until you try." By no means should anyone not try something, but it is pointless to wrap ones entire life into chasing a dream that cannot be catched. To try and be slapped down and being defeate can award its own self confidence. Granted, it hurts and its effort wasted but it beats wasting the energy on hopelessly wishing, and never letting go to a new path. Sure everyone who is older has been through this once or twice already, and those who go through such experiences in the future know that it happans to almost everyone.