Who Am I?
Tiffany here! 👋
I was recently completing a slew of recommendation letters. And it was so interesting to see what organization/title people are giving me these days…
Some said Former Clarinet Professor. Some said Digital Clarinet Academy Co-Director. Some said Cal Performances… others just, clarinetist. There was a lot of variety in how people described me and it was sort of uncomfortable.
I no longer fit squarely into a box.
Part of my fear in leaving my full time clarinet teaching job was losing “validity”, being seen as “less than”… or, honestly, not as “legitimate”.
For those of you that don’t know, I left my full time job teaching at VCU in May. I was there for 5 years, and they were great in so many ways. But, life took my husband and I in a different direction, and I had to make a hard choice. In the end, that choice was to move to San Francisco, commute to Richmond for one more year, and quit in May 2022.
The summer was hard.
I wondered how people would perceive me, where my place would be. I felt lost, for sure. I felt worried, for sure. BUT - I did know that I needed to trust this process. I have always had this feeling in the depths of me that I will figure out how to leave the world a better place. Trusting that feeling this summer? Oy. Let's not talk about it.
I was so lucky to have my family and people like Ixi and Ted around to remind me that I could contribute in BIG ways without being a full time clarinet professor. I’m more than what I do. I’m who I am.
We know these things in theory. Feeling them in reality is harder. And as we near the end of the year and I’ve done some reflecting, I’m feeling a little more ready to talk about it. It was hard to talk about it … because that fear of how people perceive you, of what title they’ll give you on an application? It’s real.
But, life did move on. The sun came up again and again. I kept chipping away at how to create what I wanted out of this seemingly cataclysmic event: QUIT JOB. I kept writing to you all! I kept posting. I started training for a 10k. I leaned into my new job at Berkeley doing digital content and asked "how can this help me impact the world?"
Since May, stuff has happened. I’ve started teaching a digital marketing course at San Francisco Conservatory, have continued building a studio in SF and taking a few gigs, and have dug deeper into all things Music360/Digital Clarinet Academy.
Sure, it still feels uncomfortable some days.
Because people are always wondering... what do you do? Who are you?
A clarinetist? A self-taught digital content influencer person? A teacher? A doer of social media?
And you know what I’ve decided?
That’s all. A person out in the world who loves people, music, the clarinet, teaching, spreadsheets, pens, laughing, cooking, bright colors... and who gets a little too enthusiastic sometimes.
So, let's talk about you.
As you reflect on your year, do us a favor.
Don’t put yourself in a box.
Who are you?
You’re so many things.
Believe in them. Write them down.
And trust that you CAN carve your own path. You CAN do whatever job or set of jobs you want to do.
Being multiple things, taking a chance and not following the clear paths laid before us... that doesn't make you less than.
It makes you brave and bold.
It's not easy every day but rely on those around you that can build you up and that have walked the path you want to walk. Or, at least a similar one. If you get the great orchestra job or get tenure, that's GREAT! If you don't, that's also great. Talk about it. Live through it.
And know at the end of the day, the affiliation, the title, the expectation or assumptions about success... they really don't matter.
Because as Toni Morrison said... "You are not the work you do; you are the person you are. - Toni Morrison