24 Feb Confidence
Today someone pointed out that my business cards don’t have my email address on them.
Hearing this, I wanted to throw something at the wall. I’m a perfectionist. My natural inclination is to be judgy and demanding about everything. I’m constantly working on this, and this newsletter is a tool that helps me do things before they are ready or perfect. I have to send something out every Tuesday, whether I feel like I have something “good” to say or not. I send it to a list that I’m not even sure who is on it.
It’s true: I’m not sure who exactly gets this email. When I first uploaded my contacts from Gmail I started to obsessively go line by line over each email address. I soon recognized this for what it was: a delay tactic. I forced myself to stop looking at the list of contacts and just hit send on that first message to whomever might be on the receiving end. It would be fine, I told myself, fighting self-doubt. It was just an email, and if anyone received it who didn’t want it they could unsubscribe.
So back to this morning:
“Your card doesn’t have an email address.”
There was a pause as I cycled from my initial irritation and desire to tear up all my cards to annoyance with myself that I would let something like that get past me (I knew better; I should have had someone else look at them before I approved the proof) and finally to the epiphanic realization that this was the first person in a month of handing out these cards to notice this mistake.
Clearly there was only one way to respond: With the confidence of a mediocre white man.
So I laughed.
“Well, I can’t believe I did that. I’ll have to have that fixed before I print more. I only even printed business cards because I kept running into old people who couldn’t fathom that I was a legitimate business owner unless I had a little piece of paper with my name on it to give to them. Business cards just seem so…old-fashioned to me.”
And then the conversation moved on to the business at hand.
What does it mean, the confidence of a mediocre white man? It became a meme after Sarah Hagi tweeted, “Lord, give me the confidence of a mediocre white man.” Some of you reading this probably instinctively grasp the significance of that phrase, some of you might need a little more clarity. (Mindy Kaling goes into it quite well here.)
For me, the exemplar of the confidence of a mediocre white man is a certain local blogger I know who shows up at places like City Commission meetings in flip flops, cargo shorts and a sweaty t-shirt, yet expects to be treated with the dignity and respect of a hallowed member of the Fourth Estate. He can’t even be bothered to put on a pair of khaki pants, but there is never a hint of insecurity or self-consciousness about his appearance (or anything else, for that matter). Maybe he feels those things inside, but regardless, he projects an aura of utmost confidence in himself.
When I say I responded to the person who pointed out the lack of an email address on my business card with the confidence of a mediocre white man, what I mean is I acted like it didn’t matter, because really, it doesn’t, not in the grander scheme of things. I didn’t put anyone’s life in danger, I didn’t mishandle any money and I can always print new cards with an email address. I’m new to this business owning thing and if this is the worst mistake I’ve made so far then I’m doing pretty good.
Until next Tuesday,