Absent: a Journey through Confidence in the workplace

Absent: a Journey through Confidence in the workplace

David Afonso · April 6, 2023

It was 8 am, and I was getting all dressed up to go nowhere in particular. For the monitors of people, I don't even know. 
How should I smile? How many teeth should I show? 
Lick my lips, and I’m creating a new story. I’m faking some kind of glory.

All my professional experiences had different backgrounds and I expressed my artistic point of view in all projects I was involved in. Until I worked in a modeling agency as a photographer and videographer. I was so afraid of not having the space to be creative. Of course, this job came with the inherent package of being able to express my ideas, share new views and communicate all dissatisfactions by giving them a new solution. But I was hurt.

I had been at the modeling agency for 3 years, and, over time, my confidence was broken. I started to feel more fragile, and more unprotected. I felt all my ideas and approaches were manipulated and compared to others. I felt they put a lot of trust in me, but then didn't value my work. I felt like I was just another person capable of taking pictures.

This lack of confidence consumed my body, brain, and words.

My past was different from all this, and that is why I was always so nervous. I didn't understand what they were talking about, so I just smiled to let them know I was comfortable in some way.

Outside of the agency, my work was amplified. It was recognized and valued. But inside, there was a negative bubble that consumed me. I couldn't be the creative and artistic David. I was just David - the machine.

I fell out of love with photography and video. I didn't want to do this anymore. I thought about going back to working in a supermarket because it was an amazing experience and I felt valued there. But now, I didn't know how to do anything else. I was unhappy. The change was imperative.

Once in thought, I was nonexistent, everything was normal without me. Just the way it was meant to be. I used to have some comfort and reward in being sad. My boat liked to drown.

After a year of looking for alternatives, the opportunity arose to work at Mercedes-Benz.io, so I grabbed it with what little strength I had. I came in very damaged. I didn't have confidence, so it was difficult to mark my position. My voice was still hoarse to speak, especially in a completely different area, in a much larger company. Before I had 12 colleagues, and now I have more than 500. My first thoughts were: I don't have room to be vulnerable here.

I have been here for more than one year now. 

David- you are part of the past, but now you are the future.

Every expectation sits on all ten fingertips. How do you even grab one?

I'm still learning, and above all, relearning. I'm not in a hurry. Every week has been different, and I have one of the most fun roles in the company. I have the opportunity to meet all the MB.ioneers, record them, and know them. It's been the most incredible professional experience I've had. In addition to the confidence that I am developing (honestly, it suits me very well), I trust my team. We all flow very well, I can express my ideas and they respect them. Sometimes they don’t see them, but it’s fine. I’m an artist (hey- don’t judge me, I see myself that way), and artists don’t usually know how to express their ideas through words.

I feel harmony working here. It’s great getting to know people that are the opposite of me. It creates the space for me to know other things outside of my bubble. There is a general empathy that contaminates me. We all realize that we are very different, and, at the same time, there is room for that difference. 

I've wasted too much breath on the pain that sometimes is difficult to breathe. Even when it’s all okay, even when all my colleagues tell me that I am doing a great job, even when I feel proud of everything that I am doing, and I created solid, healthy, and strong work relationships. I feel that right now, I belong here and I’m happy to feel alive.

Now my boat wants to float on top. There is no more sense in suffering.

It’s 8 am, and I’m getting all dressed up to go to the office, confronting my emotions on my way there. 
That’s why I wrote this. I’m glorious now.

Photo by Ruvim Noga on Unsplash

David Afonso