Imitation the Sincerest Form of Flattery My Ass
I’ve had hardship before. I’ve been annoyed before. But I’ve never wanted to give up as much as I do right now. It’s been a long story. I typed it out, then deleted it because it sounded whiny. Here’s the shortened version.
I work my ass off. 90 hour weeks. I work through breakfast. I work through lunch. I work through dinner. I worked that hard while also putting myself through graduate school. I worked that hard while also writing a book. I took a meager salary every year despite my hard work and growing credentials because I was optimistic about a payoff later. Not just a financial payoff, but the emotional payoff of knowing I’m doing more than earning a paycheck, I’m actually trying to do some good in the world. In the same vein, I do oodles of pro bono work because I actually give two shits and want to help people. I thought maybe karma would help me out in that regard too, as far as the future payoff. Surely, at some point, someone will notice that I’m a valuable and authentic asset to an important field, right?
But now I’m starting to get frustrated. First, I think there is a difference between a “meager” salary, and a below minimum wage, below the poverty line, no health insurance, doing my laundry at the coin op place, absolutely nothing to show for my hard work, in the teens (as in <$20,000), salary. If you saw my paychecks, you would vomit. I’m literally poor. Second, it’s been 5 years. At first, when I was starting out and inexperienced, I could muster the financial sacrifice. But I’m published now. I’m a doctor now. I’ve been a proven speaker and writer for 5 years now. When is this payoff coming? When can I start making a living wage? I’m not asking for wealth, or even middle class. I’d just like to make a living wage. I’ve been growing more and more restless and irritated, but last night I lost it.
Here was the catalyst:
I designed from scratch all of my workshops and in-home parties. I wrote the goals and learning objectives. I collected the research. I designed the activities that would relay those learning objectives in a palatable way for the audience. I wrote the jokes and punchlines (if you’ve ever attended one of my classes, you know I use a lot of humor). I figured out a way to make it fun, interesting, moving, exciting. Designing workshops really is an art and frankly, I’m good at it. Well it came to my attention that someone took my script (literally, from a file on my computer) for at least two of the workshops and began teaching them at in-home parties and colleges, passing my intellectual property off as his/her own work and then pocketed the money. Needless to say I was livid. But I was also hurt and upset. I cried. A lot. It’s not a nice feeling to have all your hard work ripped off like that. I had my attorney draw up a cease and desist letter to make them stop.
Things were quiet for awhile, but I just found out this person is at it again. This time it appears they slightly changed the wording and content of the workshops in what appears to be an attempt to make them different enough that I can’t claim copyright infringement, but still clearly modeling their work after the work that I’ve done.
So I throw my hands up and I ask, why bother? Why bother creating something cool and innovative and ahead of it’s time when someone else is just going to come along, steal it, and then get all the glory (and money)? Why bother spending the time and money and unbelievably hard work getting a Ph.D. when someone with no formal training, schooling, or certifications can just put out a shingle calling themselves a sexuality educator and book college workshops? I’m done. I’m giving this self-employed sexologist gig one more year. If by December 31, 2013 I didn’t at least double my income from last year, starting January 1, 2014 I will be looking for a nice cushy full time teaching job or a private sector job, the kind that will pay me more than $14,000 a year with a Ph.D. and the kind that will offer… dare I say it… HEALTH INSURANCE! Not to get dramatic, but if you’re one of those who has been saying for years “I really want to bring Jill in one of these semesters for a workshop” or “I keep meaning to get the girls together and do an in-home party with Jill” but have been putting it off, I would stop putting it off because there might not be a chance for too much longer.
You all know I love my job. LOVE IT. Obsessed with it. But I can’t afford to keep doing it unless a lot more people start paying me what I’m worth and stop paying for a cheaper but unethical and untrained knockoff.