In a past life, I studied to become a psychologist. I have a natural read of people, and the training to become a psychologist would have been largely straightforward. My problem at the time was the emphasis on certain therapeutic models to the exclusion of others.
Years after I left school, I came upon research that showed that most professional psychologists eventually use a combination of therapeutic models and techniques with their patients and the longer a therapist has been in practice, the more diverse their methods of treatment become.
People outside of kink don't understand why I'm obsessed with taking classes. On average, I attend at least one kink class a week, sometimes more. Some classes are more interesting or meaningful to me, but I am largely able to get something out of every class I attend.
When I explain to a vanilla person that I'm dominant, they assume they know what it means. They assume that I like to bark orders and be serviced. Those of us in the know realize that this surface level description fails entirely at understanding either the nuance or the emotional component of what we do. We dominants are guides (sometimes strict, sometimes loving), and we fulfil an important emotional need for our subs, just as they do for us. The emotional fulfilment that each side receives can never be overstated, as that is the underlying basis for what we do.
But on top of this and embedded in this are the activities we engage in, whether they be bondage, humiliation, shibari, hypnosis, edge play, impact play, breathe play or other actives which require a certain level of commitment by the top to be skilled, to have studied and to be studied in a particular set of skills that are brought to bear during a scene.
A scene may be wholly focused on a single activity, but most experienced doms have a large toolchest of schools and techniques in which to draw from in order to provide their subs just the experience that they feel will best fit the experience, and these schools and techniques may come out in ways that are wholly invisible to the bottom, and may even be invisible to the top in the moment, as well learned lessons are weaved into the fabric of our abilities and personality.
Going to classes gives me new skills, exposes me to new kinks and new ways of thinking of kink. Sometimes I will want to learn everything I can about a new technique, while other times I am grateful I attended but don't pursue the topic any further, but in either case, the experience becomes woven into my own personal fabric, and I become a better top.
Being dominant is intrinsic to who I am, while being a good top takes work.