I spend a lot of time on my computer. My business is all about tapestry weaving, but much of the work is done online, primarily teaching. I think I was born to be a teacher. I remember as kids my sister and I had a double-sided A-frame chalkboard and we'd play school with our friends. And sometimes I'd play with my stuffed animals if the real kids were tired of being "taught." (Does that make me bossy? Maybe I was!)
I love developing curriculum and figuring out the best way to answer a student's question. I don't always get that right. Sometimes all they need is a sentence or two and I decide they need a whole video to explain a concept. That is part of the challenge of teaching online where most of the communication is typed and photos from students are often blurry or non-existent. It can be hard to understand what someone is saying when the social cues that we get from body language and voice inflection are missing. So I approach it as a puzzle I have to figure out and hope that people will give me more information so I can understand the problem and perhaps even solve it.
The problem with spending so much time interacting with people online is that it sets up an expectation for myself that is unrealistic. I have created a screen persona that doesn't always mesh with who the flesh-and-blood Rebecca is. In an online business, you have to use images, video, and text to sell yourself (and thus make a living) and so you strive to present a picture of who you are that isn't completely accurate. Of course I don't admit the things I really screwed up. I hope, as we all do, that people won't notice I made a mistake and they'll remember all the good work I did.
But we all make mistakes. Constantly. We are human. I am human. And I get tired and frustrated and upset just like all of you do. The screen girl full of unrealistic expectations will continue to exist. But I hope that I can also be the real woman who is behind this business. The one who wants more than anything to connect with other people who love tapestry weaving and to increase the knowledge of tapestry in the wider world.
I do love teaching online. I think that it allows the kind of interaction that you can't get in a short workshop. Tapestry weaving is slow and there is no way around that. That is the blessing and the curse of this medium. Slowing down is a huge blessing in this hurry-up world. But the slow process makes learning all the techniques in a 3-day workshop impossible. In an online class you can learn at your own pace and ask questions when you have them. The addition of a community forum for my online students has been incredible and I am grateful to be part of this wonderful group of tapestry weavers.
I'm also proud of myself for starting this business. That isn't part of the crafted screen girl's persona: pride. The real Rebecca knows how much work and how many tears of frustration went into creating an online school and she IS proud of the accomplishment. It has been a success and will continue to be so. But the real Rebecca also tires of the face-forward screen-girl she presents to the world. So if you hear a little sobbing way below the words on the screen one day, just give her a little wink and remind her that the community is there. And hopefully we'll meet up in person to cement the bond one day.
P.S. The screen-girl would be remiss if she didn't remind you to sign up for an online class! All the information starts HERE. I can't keep teaching and putting free content into the world if I don't get people signing up for my paid programs. So if you have a friend who wants to weave with you or who might like to learn a little tapestry, send them the link to this post!