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I can't comment on your overall question, as I'm still relatively new to this world, but I would note that there are many options for playing in a group besides a community orchestra. Much depends on where you live, and what is available. If nothing else, you could try creating your own trio, quartet or chamber group, aimed at people who are at whatever skill level that you are. Bulletin boards in local community centers, or using an online tool like meetup.com, are great places to start.
I admire your spirit! Chose your teacher or mentor after "auditioning" them, and finding out if your goals fit in to their plans. And always remember it's your art! What ever kind of music brings you the most pleasure. Ian Anderson, God Bless him, was a beginner with only a couple of years experience when he first started playing with Jethro Tull. Many classically trained flutists put him down because of his "vocalizations", weird breathing and noises he made with the flute. Now, he may be the extreme example on one side of the pendulum, but in truth it was his art and he managed to have fun and make a living at it.
I've had a lifetime of a "Love/Hate" relationship with my instrument, and I've learned when to put it down, and when to just play for the sheer joy of it.