At the time you’re reading this, I am (hopefully) on a plane headed to FinCon. Or I may have already arrived!
This morning, I’m waking up around 3:30 AM in order to head to my 6:20 AM flight out of Bradley International Airport. I should, weather and planes permitting, touch down in Orlando just after 9 AM. Then it’s off to four straight days of money talk.
What better place for a money nerd like myself?
Seems like an easy choice, but it’s not. I suffer from a serious case of impostor syndrome, and my real-life introversion is going to rear its ugly head. But I’m going anyway, because I know I can’t let these things hold me back.
Even if you’re not a financial content creator, and have no interest in blogging, I hope my experiences here can help you. Keep on reading to learn more about how I overcame these, and why it’s important in any career.
I’m going to talk a bit about why I’m heading to FinCon, what I’m hoping to learn/do, and how to stop your impostor syndrome and introversion from holding you back from your dreams.
What’s A FinCon, Anyway? And What Am I Doing There?
Once a year influencers, bloggers, podcasters, service providers, financial companies, and fintech startups get together to meet, talk, learn, and partner. FinCon is THE conference for those in the personal finance space. If you’re not there, you’re square.
Last year, when I was still new at this whole blogging thing, I thought I might be good enough to go to FinCon in a few years. Well, if I was still blogging, that is. I suffered from an extreme case of imposter syndrome and couldn’t imagine a time when I would be good enough to have the honor of going and hanging out with all the famous people in this space.
Remember that I’ve been a personal finance fangirl for much longer than I’ve been a blogger. I read all the personal finance books for nearly two straight decades, and spent much of my free time reading money websites, blogs, and magazines. I was an avid consumer of financial content, and to me, the important folks in this space were intimidating figures just as famous as a sports or movie star.
Even though I had become a financial content creator, I still felt far from the real deal. I was no where near the league of these people with thousands of followers, books, features in the big-time media, and so on. I just wrote over on my little corner of the internet, figuring no one was paying much attention anyway.
Someone was, though.
First I won a scholarship to go to FinCon for free. This is a scholarship available to first-year financial bloggers, and I applied on a whim (figuring I wasn’t going to win). Lo and behold, I did.
But I still didn’t sign up to go. My impostor syndrome and fears were holding me back. In fact, during this time I almost stopped blogging. After all, I was never going to be successful, right? I was basically just talking to myself.
THEN I woke up one day to the shocking news that my site had been nominated for a PLUTUS award. Not only that, but my favorite podcast (Stacking Benjamins) had a roundtable discussing the nominees. And they were talking about me. And saying really nice things.
That was it. The universe was telling me to go. So I talked to my husband, got as much time off work as I could, and bought tickets to Dallas.
This experience, no joking, changed my life.
I got to meet many of these famous people, and they were genuinely nice people. There were interesting sessions with amazing speakers, inspiring talks, and I got to make internet friends into real-world friends. It kept me going at this whole blogging thing, that’s for sure. I left with many ideas, and a renewed sense of confidence in my work.
Someone was paying attention, and thought I had something good here. My internet friends were just as fun in real life as online, and I had a lot left that I wanted to do.
So I kept going. And today I’m headed to FinCon as a speaker running one of the sessions (if you’re going to be at the conference, Saturday 10 AM: Be A Business – MBA For Digital Entrepreneurs. Be there.), nominated for two PLUTUS awards (Family Finance and Best Series), having been featured in major media outlets like Business Insider and MSN. I still feel like I have so much to learn, so many more ideas, and hope to reach – and help – more people.
I have a number of goals for FinCon:
- Give an awesome talk that helps people
- Make internet friends real-life friends
- Meet new people I haven’t met on the internet
- Learn more about how to make amazing, engaging content
- Learn how to reach more people, and help them
- Get to know new financial companies, products, and services that could be useful to you – my readers.
But I told my husband just yesterday I don’t know if I really want to go. It was my good old friends, impostor syndrome and introversion, trying to hold me back.
Impostor Syndrome – What It Is And Why It Hold You Back
Impostor syndrome is the feeling like you’re a complete fraud, and that your accomplishments are the result of luck – not skill.
Why? That article I linked above has five different types of impostor syndrome, and I relate to many of them. OK, pretty much all of them.
- Perfectionist – Yep, I set extremely high goals, and have high expectations for myself. When I fall short, even if I’ve accomplished a lot, I feel like a failure.
- Superwoman – Yeah, I don’t really belong here, so I better work harder that the other people who know what they’re doing to try and keep up
- Natural Genius – OK, yes, I was a high achiever in school. And yes, if I don’t succeed at something easily, I feel like I’ve failed. Note, I’m not saying I’m a genius or anything, this is just from the article!
- Rugged Individualist – Yes, I feel like I should be able to do everything by myself. And I hate asking for help
- Expert – Sure, I don’t know what I’m doing, so why are people thinking I’m an expert?
I feel similarly at work, as I do here. And I know I’m not alone.
When this was first discovered, Suzanne Imes, PhD, and Pauline Rose Clance, PhD both thought this syndrome was unique to women. It was used to describe high achievers who felt unworthy of their success. Although it’s not limited to women (men suffer from this too), it does seem to be more prevalent among women.
Impostor syndrome can keep you from applying for a job because you don’t meet all the requirements. It can keep you from throwing your hat into the ring for a promotion, because you can’t be the expert that’s needed. You might try to do everything yourself, or work crazy hours in an attempt to “prove” that you’re worthy.
And no matter how much you achieved, you might not feel like it’s enough. You look around and only see those more successful than yourself, rather than look inside at how much you’ve achieved.
Impostor syndrome holds you back. If you, like me, are a sufferer, you need to do some more objective self-examination and challenging of your own beliefs about yourself.
You can do it. You are worthy. And letting your impostor syndrome control you means you’ll never be happy with what you’ve accomplished.
Always striving for more, more, more won’t make you feel more worthy. Only changing yourself, inside, and how you perceive your own accomplishments will do that.
Confession – I’m a horribly shy person.
For an introvert, there’s little more intimidating than heading to a gathering of a few thousand people.
Luckily, although I’m shy, I happen to love public speaking. And I have no problems talking shop or talking about personal finance. I’m just socially awkward and feel shy talking about myself.
Introverts recharge by being alone, while being around lots of people drains their energy, and that’s me to a T. I need time to decompress and collect my thoughts. I prefer staying at home and reading a good book (or blog) to going out and meeting people at an event.
Interestingly, if you’ve met me only in certain contexts, you probably wouldn’t think of me as a shy person. I’ve learned over the years how to push back against my instincts to be shy, although I wouldn’t say it’s easy to do. I can also seem reserved at times, but that’s just my natural shyness coming out.
Here I’m using the words “shy” and “introvert” interchangeably, although technically they’re different things. I would classify myself as a shy introvert.
Those of us that are shy, or that do get drained from being around a lot of people for a long time, have usually developed various coping mechanisms. For example, I get up very early and like to have alone time to walk/read/write/etc. before heading to work. Once I’m home, I tend not to want to head back out again. And at last FinCon, I would step away and go for a brief walk if I needed to recharge a bit. I do the same at work events and conferences where I need to be “on” all day.
If you’re an introvert like me, you might be interested in these tips from Forbes on how to overcome some challenges of being introverted. In addition to the decompression time, I also like their tips about meeting folks one on one rather than in groups, and to plan out what I want to do/talk about ahead of time. I’ve found those to be quite useful.
I Want To Hear From You!
Have you also suffered from impostor syndrome, or introversion/shyness? What have you found most helpful in overcoming them? Let me know in the comments.
And if you’ll be at FinCon, be sure to say hello!
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