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Nested identities

Rob Drilea
Rob Drilea
2 min read
Nested identities

I've spent much of my 20s wrapped in a quiet debate with myself on how to present my background, my interests, my work and my goals publicly.

‌‌Part of that is naturally just navigating the options that are available to me and the options that could be available to me, and deciding what is worth my time, what to work on, and what to avoid.

‌‌But even when sifting the things that truly interest me or I have an inclination toward, from everything else, I've found that who I am is not easily packaged in one word.

‌‌"Filmmaker" is the label I've identified with most easily since I was in my late teens - it's what I decided I wanted to become, and, for most of my my life since, have been in the process of becoming. Though I've made a handful of short films and a (horrible) horror feature I never talk about, making films is not something I do day to day.

‌‌I've spent much of my working life making videos, sure. I was an in-house video editor and a freelance hired gun in various roles, working adjacent to filmmaking, but, really, not making films. So, am I a filmmaker?

‌‌For most of my conscious life, I've been fascinated by stories. When I was 7 and given a simple assignment to create individual sentences with 7 different words for homework one day, I went home and spent hours on a six page story. No one told me to do that. (In fact, it wasn't even welcomed.) And yet, it was obvious I had a knack for narrative. I was encouraged to write and continued writing through my early youth. I also deeply loved reading, and would soon come to love movies.

‌‌As an adult, especially in recent years, I've become more intrigued by the ways stories and narratives shape our lives, from the personal to the political. It has become obvious to me that storytelling is a skill I can harness to do good in the world - but also that it doesn't necessarily need to happen just through making movies. But, should I call myself a storyteller?

‌‌Another identity I hold is that of an entrepreneur. I've always found numbers fun, and even as I child I had an inclination toward imagining businesses. I would browse through mail-order catalogues that our family was spammed with, and come up with business ideas, then think about what it would take to start a business. This inclination probably had more to do with imagining a future where money was no issue. Ownership was a high goal in a family of low-wage earners with a lot of instability.

‌‌The year I graduated college, I started a business (mostly just in name - opened an LLC for my video editing services, which I hoped in some years would become my production company.) In the years since, I finished an online MBA, and have toyed with various business ideas. But I can't really call myself a businessperson, or an entrepreneur.

‌I am all of these identities, and more. But what should I be presenting, leading with? What does the world need from me? I'm still figuring that out.

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StorytellingGetting StartedLifeWork

Rob Drilea

On creativity & work