by Bri Castellini
Last month I had a work trip to Toronto. It was very exciting, because I’ve never been on a work trip and I’ve also never been to Canada NOR have I ever traveled internationally alone. The trip itself was fun by pretty low key. but it also made me think a lot about my job and the fact that confidence is largely performative.
I am in the incredibly weird position of having a job in my exact preferred industry that I’m perfect for despite it not being my dream job. This is not to say that I don’t love my job- I do. I recognize how mind-numbingly lucky I am to have a job where I write incredibly vulnerable articles about failure and host a podcast where I interview my creative heroes and get flown to Toronto to speak at a web series festival and host events where I get free drinks and get to talk about filmmaking and moderate a community of people who have helped me improve myself in more ways than one. I designed this job myself mostly by accident and now here I am, one of the few people who makes rent by being in the web series industry. It’s crazy. It’s practically unheard of! And it’s not my dream job.
It’s not a secret my dream job is being a full time writer/filmmaker. Even my company knows this, and has known this since I was hired last year. It’s why I still produce web series on the side and do stupid things like crowdfund in the month leading up to the biggest professional event of my career that I both made possible and am woefully unprepared for.
This position is particularly bizarre because while I’m perfect for this job that I am incredibly lucky to have, I hope to not being doing it in five years. I also don’t ever want to do this job at another company, so it’s not like all this experience I’m getting and resume keywords I’m hitting will be of use. So I’m in this holding pattern, where I am content and making rent on time and getting to do super cool things, but I’m also not technically advancing my own career goals with my professional gig. It’s adjacent to my career goals, but it is not in itself my career.
Confidence, I’ve learned, is largely performative. There’s a part of it that’s you being realistic with yourself about things you are objectively good at, but no one sees that. When someone sees or senses confidence in another person it is because that other person is full of shit to a degree.
I appear very confident at my job. When I write articles for work, I am often writing instructional pieces that require me to make declarations of expertise that may or may not be entirely earned. When I host events, I put on my fake bubbly persona that’s part high school bake sale queen and part used car salesman, but with a dash of #relatable camaraderie. That’s not a person that I actually am, but it’s a version of myself I invented back in my barista days when casually flirting with customers and being just a little bit edgier than most service industry personalities got me better tips. It’s all very carefully curated, because confidence from me is an important image for the company at large, as I’m often the on the front lines, being the filmmaker of the staff.
It’s all bullshit. I am good at public speaking and I am sometimes funny in conversational settings because of years of comedy and writing practice, I am a solid writer because of my two advanced degrees in it, I know how Twitter works after a decade on the platform, and I have made or been involved in enough indie films to have a foundational basis for my advice. There are tons of people like me- I am far from special in these traits. But I happen to be in a position where I’m using all of these things at once and so it is easy-ish to appear as though I am confident in myself and my position at this company.
And… I am? And I’m not. I have a lot of responsibility that frankly I’d be fine offloading to someone else. I’m a control freak but the higher the stakes get, the more chill I am about maybe not being in charge. The things that I say on the internet or forgetting to send an email or having an off week may hurt my ability to continue to get a paycheck. That’s terrifying. I’ve never been in a position where I have so many things to do and yet at any moment I might fuck up something small that then derails the entire place and my life and I’ll have to go back to food service.
This isn’t be being big for my britches- I’m one of four employees. We’re like a Jenga game that’s been going on for half an hour- it’s pretty much one brick from tumbling down at all times, and I’m one of those bricks. It’s doubly terrifying because if I know one thing about myself, it’s that I’m often hard to motivate when I’m not head-over-heels passionate about whatever I’m doing. I love my job, but there’s a spark of something missing because again, it’s not my dream job. It’s impossible to feel as alive as I do directing an actor and watching something that previously existed in my head come to life before my eyes.
But confidence is important in order to keep this whole charade up so here I am. Being it. Or pretending to be it, but Very Convincingly.