About 7 years ago, a taxi driver in Colombia told me that the biggest thing I would ever struggle with is my huge ambition and trying to focus it.
Flash forward to when I went to Vassar thinking I would be a music major.
That thought has defined the rest of my college experience. When I discovered I wanted to do Comp. Sci, I tried to juggle a double major between CS and Music. I convinced myself it was possible to take 9-10 classes a semester plus extra curriculars, yet I quickly discovered how thinly stretched I became trying to have the best of both worlds. After constant internal debate, a year ago, I decided to drop my music major to a minor.
Slowly, I became dissatisfied with the classes I was taking for the music minor and also just with the politics within the music department - giving the study of classical music priority over any other academic opportunity. I was punished by my music professors for missing class to present my research at different conferences. (I always let them know when those conferences were). Yet I stuck with it saying to myself "only X classes left for the minor."
This semester, I was taking the second to last class needed for my music theory minor. At this point, I've already learned music theory concepts three years in a row. Everything was becoming monotonous and time consuming. I've been stressed out by all the items piling on my to-do list and the lack of time to contribute to knocking things off of the list. The things on my to-do list are almost all exclusively about my career in CS - things like, finishing up the online iOS and Python courses I started, studying and practicing for technical interviews, applying for summer internships, scheduling interviews. I kept asking myself "why am I even a music minor when there is so much I haven't yet done with my CS major?!" Yet I felt a sort of debt to my pre-college self, excited to go to Vassar for their music program.
Don't get me wrong, I love music. I love singing in choir, playing piano, singing with my a cappella group, thinking about how to make a piece sound better through musicianship, yet I was becoming unhappy with my lack of focus on the one thing I've been trying to dedicate more time to: my major. A week ago, I made the decision to drop my minor. Sometimes I wish I came into school not knowing what to do and stumbling into CS, just so I could have solely focused on CS and my extra curriculars. But at the same time, this process, of realizing what my priorities are, has helped me learn what is important to me and knowing that sometimes my ambition will be greater than my ability...and that's okay. Music will always be a part of my life. Dropping the minor does not mean that I will suddenly never interact with music again, it just means that I'm starting to focus on the aspects of music I truly enjoy while allowing me to focus my self-growth on CS. I'm hoping that starting now, I'll have the time to dedicate to my CS extra curricular activities. I already feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.