I've been re-reading this book over the last week, and I was stopped by a discussion in the chapter about preschoolers that concerned "hothouse children." Many of these kids, later in life, fall apart when they can't maintain their high level of achievement. Now, I was definitely not a hothouse kid, but I did read early, I started piano lessons when I was four, I always did well in school, and I was basically thought of as "the smart kid." You know how this is.
My parents, unlike the parents of hothouse children, never pushed me to achieve. They followed my lead -- I loved to read, they bought more books. I had a talent, they continued to pay for lessons as long as they could. I got all A's, they told me they were proud of me. They encouraged me in everything I chose to do. I never felt from them the pressures that hothouse children feel.
Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I hadn't been a music major. If I had followed the route many "smart kids" do and pursued pre-med or engineering. High school was so easy for me. I never learned to study because I never had to. University was a brand new world, and I was challenged to re-work how I did homework, how I prepared for tests, how I scheduled my time because I wasn't absorbing things as easily. It was a bit of a reality check. I still made it through fairly well, but I wasn't so sure I was a "smart kid" anymore. A bit of my basic self-image was changed forever, but I was still me. If I had tried to go into a more scientific field, would I have been utterly crushed? We may never know.
I do love my life now. I still read voraciously. I (obviously) am still making music. But I'm not an ambitious achiever, and I don't always feel like the smart one. And you know what? That's okay with me.