My first day of composing was back in 7th grade, and man were things a lot simpler. Repetition, repetition, repetition. Every so often I'd change from a minor chord to a major chord, but other than that it was nothing special. Off-chord notes sounded strange and I could barely grasp the idea of a minor 7th chord.
Moving into high school and college, my ear grew sharper and honed in on the idea of chord progression and key changes. Listening to composer like Liszt and Rachmaninoff, I would try to mimick them but found that I fell short. I was still too repetitive and the everything was oversimplified.
My first performance in Australia was of the song I made titled "Crystal Rain" and it won "Most Original Composition - 2014", in the Instrumental competition --- yet it still felt like something was missing. I think it's every great composer's struggle to always be improving their work, even if others think it sounds great.
Now I've arrived at the point where my music can tell a story of its own, and really working to create unique transitions that will further those stories over the course of the piece. It's not always easy, but it's very satisfying to hear the final product.