"Is this really what I want to do?"
"Only go into music if you can't imagine doing anything else."
I'm pretty sure I've heard this phrase more times than I've heard people trying to play the first three lines of the Moonlight Sonata, and if you've been a pianist all your life, that's saying something. While I understand the intent behind this statement, I believe it needs some clarification.
The past several weeks, months, and years, I've always found other subjects that interested me. In elementary school, I wanted to be an actress (I mean, what 10-year-old didn't?). In middle school, I wanted to be a writer. In high school I wanted to be a historian, then an FBI agent, then a singer-songwriter, a composer, a research psychologist. You name it. Unless it involved calculus, I was probably interested in it at some point in my life. I grew out of some of these interests, but I don't expect that my love for writing, singing, composing, adventure, or psychology will necessarily die in the future.
Lately, I've been imagining what it would be like to be a research psychologist. In fact, I was thinking about pursuing a dual degree with psychology, because the interest there remains strong. It is something I could see myself being very happy doing, considering my passion for psychology and discovery, but when I think about coming home from work every day, exhausted, not once touching the piano, there's something unsettling in that thought. When I imagine a life where I try to fit in an hour of piano on the weekends or just casually play once in a while, I don't like the image I'm seeing.
That is why I'm going into music, not because I can't imagine doing anything else or being anything else, not because music is the only thing I'm proficient at, but because I can't imagine living without it in my everyday life. Sure, you can still keep music a part of your life if you don't decide to be a professional musician, but I can't see myself living a life where I'm only trying to "fit in some music here and there."
Music is both my lifestyle and one of the largest parts of my identity; but I define myself by more than just fast fingers and lots of keys. I am a full human being with the experiences I have outside of the practice room influencing every moment I spend inside the practice room. Without that balance, I wouldn't be a musician.
I know that lots of people deciding to major in music, or anything for else matter, find themselves questioning, "Is this really what I want to do?" It's okay to question yourself. In fact, I believe that it's important to think about what it would be like to do something else and to explore things that you haven't been exposed to yet. I think that if you have a sense of multiple different options, it will make it easier and more fulfilling to decide on what you truly want to do.
It's good to be interested in other things. That's how you're reminded that you're human.
(P.S. I would love to hear any other thoughts on this topic!)