For many people, committing to career area is a process that involves the resolution of more than one developmental issue. For me, the biggest hurdle has been saying good-bye to the notion of becoming a professional musician. Those of us with the curse of considering the musical career path have the added burden that typically we started playing our instruments at a very young age. I think I learned to read music around the same time that I learned to read English (age 3 or 4), so the notion of becoming a musician "when I grow up" has been with me most of my life. That longevity makes it awfully tough to say good-bye to this career path.
There is a grieving process that occurs with these decisions. Also, for me, there has always been a fine line between personal identity and career development. I mean, it's not like choosing to go into higher education meant that I am no longer a musician. That's a part of me that won't ever leave, in spite of it not being my career. So, I suppose I didn't really say good-bye to my musical side, however, I no longer have the reason, or the time, to practice the piano for 3-4 hours per day as I did several years ago. I sorta miss that. I miss being good at it. After all, it's really the only thing I'm naturally good at doing, so I feel like I'm sort of leaving an important part of me behind.
There are many, many times that I will hear a work of classical music performed, either live or recorded, where it sorta pulls at my heart strings. It's particularly acute when I hear anything written by Mozart or Beethoven for the piano, played at a fast tempo. I truly enjoy playing things fast, and (hopefully) well. Now when I hear something like that performed, especially when it's good, I practically shed a tear because I miss that experience as part of my regular life.
One of the many, many, things I intend to do when I finish this dissertation is to go back into practicing more regularly. I do play quite often now, but I tend to repeat the same songs since the act of learning new repertoire takes much more time. But what will I do with the new pieces I learn? Should I plan a recital? Perhaps pull together a small chamber group? I dunno. We shall see. But I will need to do something tangible so I stop getting all teary over Mozart. Honestly!