Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It's up to me and only me

One thing that was so refreshing to discover at the Type A Mom Conference this past weekend, is that I'm not completely insane. It's always nice to discover that, I think.

What I mean is, that for awhile now, I've been pondering why it is that people can't just do their best, rise above, and quit telling everyone else how to do things. In the blogosphere, that is.

Let me give you an example. I'm a piano teacher. Well, when I'm working, I'm a piano teacher. I teach out of my home. So does another woman in my neighborhood. I teach on a 6'4" Mason & Hamlin grand piano, use the latest notation and ear training software on a large flat screen HP computer, and am a member of all of the professional organizations. I hold a Bachelor of Music in music composition, perform and record regularly, and my students kick ass in competitions, if I do say so myself.

The other teacher in my neighborhood teaches on a spinet, has no degree, doesn't enter competitions, and simply decided that since she could play the piano a little, that it would be a good way to make money from home. Teaching lessons, that is.

Needless to say, the other teacher charges less than me. She gets more students coming in her door because she is cheaper and just as convenient as I am. She is patient and kind, and never tells the parents that their children need to invest more time in their lessons at home.

If I applied what I keep hearing from other bloggers to this situation, then I should have a sit down with this other teacher and talk to her about how she is bringing down my profession. I should ask her to join our organizations, charge more, and be a better teacher. I should call her up and let her know that she is cheapening what I do, and belittling piano teachers everywhere.

And actually? I know a couple of teachers in town that have done just that. They got nowhere with it, and people generally don't like them.

Here's the way I see it.

That woman calls herself the same thing I do: a piano teacher. However, calling herself one doesn't make her one. Sure, I "miss out" on a number of students whose families aren't willing to pay what I charge. I happen to look at it as though she is weeding out the people who aren't worth me spending time away from my children. The people who aren't serious about their child's music education and are just looking for another after school activity.

It is up to me to continue proving why I'm better and worth more money. It is my responsibility to live ethically and be the kind of teacher that people seek out and don't just stumble upon. My success or worth has nothing to do with the other people who are in my same profession - it has to do only with how well I do what I do. The other teacher has nothing to do with who I am.

There is room for everyone. Back to blogging, there is room for good writers, bad writers, reviewers, monetizers, writers who get paid, writers who don't. The internet isn't going to run out of room, and if you are true to yourself - authentic - then you will be successful.

What you need to feel validated and successful is unique to you. While one woman may be excited to be paid in cupcakes, another one may demand $300 for a post. It doesn't mean that the woman demanding $300 for a post won't get it. It's not like the same company that would be looking at her in the first place would then go and consider all of us cupcake writers out there.

I'm validated by the relationships created through this space. Cupcakes are nice too, but mainly, I just really like having a place to write and an outlet that leads me to other women writers as well.

I think Mommy Niri said it quite well, "Blog and let blog," or as I like to say, "It's alright with me if you suck," which was going to be my title until I realized that some people might not find that funny. Except Abby.