“Are you any good?”

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So, here’s the rub. I have a co-worker who frequently comes to me for help with problem solving. He says it’s because he can tell I take pride in all I do. Glad to help! This last time I seized the opportunity after his obligatory, “I owe you one!” and I answered, “No problem, just come to my next show” But, then he hits me with it! “I dunno. Are you any good“? I stand there. Dumbfound. How am I supposed to answer that? With an arrogant “Oh sure, I’m the best ever“? Or with an insecure Eeyore like “Oh, don’t bother yourself“?! Would I have dared ask if I wasn’t confident about my craft? Then again, how good we are is quite subjective. It’s more a matter of opinion and taste. But, that’s for another blog.
For now, our discussion centers around what are people thinking when they ask a musician, correction, artistif they are “any good”?
Well few things come to mind:

1) Is it worth my time to support you? Valid. Technology makes us busier. Makes us ADD
2) will I be embarrassed for you? Isn’t that nice that they care so much?
3) what’s different about your product? (See#1)
4) I was only trying to be funny. Either way they are funny. (Think about that one) and lastly
5) I just wasn’t thinking Valid. Either they (a) lack social graces OR (b) not malicious

But, I ask you…what about those poor, innocent, aspiring artists? *cue melodramatic violin* The fledgling painters, musicians, photographers, chefs, etc. that have yet to grow their necessary rhino hide needed to survive in an increasingly cynical and jaded America’s Got Talent society.
The truth is, people don’t usually realize how much sacrifice, hard work, and even heartbreak, comes with becoming “good.” Those people may possibly work in jobs they may find unfulfilling and mundane, and may think that you as an artist are simply “strumming your life away”
So what is the solution? It’s easy and difficult but it boils down to two words~
EMPATHY and DIPLOMACY

Dear family and friends of struggling artists: we love you!  And we support you in all your endeavors. For example Mom, we love your cooking. Dad, your guidance and support, and teachers/mentors we love your belief in us. Now, imagine that you invited us to eat your lovingly prepared meal only to be met with, “I dunno…you any good?!” *insert facepalm*


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