Wheels Up! Musings on FinCon, Impostor Syndrome, and Introversion

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!

Be sure to follow my blog for more great posts via e-mail or WordPress, or connect with me on Facebook or Twitter and say hello! You can also check out what I’m buying or baking on Instagram,  what I’m pinning on Pinterest, or the latest books I’m reading (or want to read) over on Goodreads.

11 thoughts on “Wheels Up! Musings on FinCon, Impostor Syndrome, and Introversion”

  1. You’ve had an amazing year. Congratulations!

    I can totally relate to your comments about imposter syndrome and introversion. Many of your comments echo what’s going on in my head as well.

    If you see me I’ll probably be the socially awkward one trying to put a face with my logo. 🙂

  2. I’m what I call an extroverted introvert.
    I’m on school holidays atm, and I spent 4 days at home, happy as a pig in muck, just doing whatever it was I felt like doing. Nanna naps included. I only left the house today because our fridge was almost bare.
    Grab Fincon by the throat and make it yours! I’d love to attend, but I doubt I ever could – being from Australia. Live the dream for the both of us!

  3. Honestly, I think you just described most of us that are coming here to FinCon. Like, I’ll never be a J-Money or Mr. Money Mustache, so why try? And being an introvert is probably part of what pushed us to sure behind a computer screen and start cranking out blog posts in the first place. Just know you’re here among friends, and we’re missing all here with the same trepidations… But it’s going to be awesome!!

  4. Congrats on all you have accomplished and on your nominations as well as the talk you will be giving this week :). Good luck!
    This is so inspiring and speaks to me on so many level. I’m an extroverted-introvert, your description of being drained when in social settings as well as needing to go and take walks makes complete sense to me. I never thought of planning one on one or at least small groups to feel more comfortable meeting new people but those are great tips and I realize I often unconsciously do that at work/social events.
    I’ve been wanting to go to Fincon for years and always just thought, hey that’s not for me! As I write more and am discovering the FI community (especially with getting more active on twitter lately), this time around I really feel like I am missing out on something that could be great for me to learn, discover opportunities and meet people I could really relate with. Then I found out that it is in DC next year, which is a reasonable drive from me, my first thought was “maybe” and those impostor feelings came rushing back to me. Your article just convinced me to make it happen! (I had the urge to write “possibly convinced me” hehe, the impostor syndrom is strong!)
    Thank you and enjoy Fincon!!

  5. “if I don’t succeed at something easily, I feel like I’ve failed.”

    Oh I know this feeling soooooo well. Why I didn’t tell people in real life about my blog until I felt it was starting to be “good enough.”

    And if I didn’t already have enough FOMO from missing FinCon…

  6. Wow, I always knew sort of what Imposter Syndrome was, but I never realized how closely it applied to me! As an electrician I constantly have a strong sense of wonder when people look to me for answers. Why the hell are they thinking that I am the one who knows stuff? I mean, I do, but still, don’t they want a real grown-up?
    I am a closet perfectionist, and I always feel disappointed by the quality of work I put out.
    I did really well in school without trying, until my later years of high school when I stopped even thinking about school.
    I definitely feel like I should be able to do absolutely everything myself. C’mon, I’m Captain DIY! Of course I can do everything myself, right? Right?
    Just so many good points all bundled together, I can’t even believe it! Also, Bradley is my airport! Other people use it too? Cool!
    I had no idea about the fincon scholarship deal, I wonder if I would be able to get it next year? Sounds like a great time anyway, I can’t wait to hear more about it!

  7. This is such a relevant post. Imposter syndrome seems to creep up sneakily at any point in life and yeah changing how you see your own achievements can be the only way to help with it.

    Personally, I am an extroverted introvert. I love meeting new people but often need time alone to recharge. It’s amazing that you love public speaking while being an introvert!

    Good luck for your talk and have fun at FinCon 2018 🙂

  8. I think I am feeling what you have felt years before. I just started blogging this April and even though I have developed some traction and traffic and seem to be embraced by my particular niche I didn’t plan on going to Fin Con this year as I was afraid of what I now know as imposter syndrome thanks to this post.

    I definitely would feel like a fish out of water mingling with blog writers I have been reading for years who are so many levels above me. Well I wish I did make the effort to go this year but hopefully if I am still around blogging I can make it to next year’s.

    Of course they always say never meet your heroes but hopefully that warning doesn’t apply here

  9. Hi Liz,

    Wow – sounds like fun! If anything it will be nice to get away to some nice weather down in Orlando. Man, I am so sick of rain…!

    I think you are spot-on regarding the impostor syndrome. I have it as well I think. I am the first member of my family that went to college, and my career trajectory (along with my earning power) has completely blew away anything I ever expected. It’s funny, but I actually think that the resulting anxiety and fear of someone “finding me out” and losing everything (completely overblown probably, but here we are) has driven me to be more successful in my career. Not saying it’s healthy at all, but that in my mind the connection is there. I have always attributed this to my background (limited income growing up, having to pay my way through school, etc). Since your background is similar (I think?), I wonder if there is a link between one’s background and the “impostor syndrome” feeling….?

    Also agree with the comments about introversion. As with anything, I see it as just something I need to manage and power through. I think this becomes a more obvious thing to deal with the higher you move up in organizations, since at those levels your reputation and perceived friendliness and approachability become much more important. I go out of my way to hold 1:1 meetings with my peers and customers to get to know them better, even though I would rather have the time to myself. I also try to greet people by name as I walk by them, where I used to just walk and think at the same time (and not even notice anyone walking by!). Also try to add breaks in my schedule thoughout the day, since I can get physically tired from back-to-back-to-back meetings and I Need the downtime.

    In any case – enjoy Orlando – can’t wait to hear about it when you get back!

  10. I’m an introvert too but didn’t really come to accept it until a few years ago. Going through high school and college, I really wanted fit in with friends and when I did, I went out a lot and attended my social gatherings. But those gatherings made me feel drained out because I took so much energy just to try and socialize. I thought their was something wrong with myself. I’ve heard of the term introvert during that time but didn’t really dig into it more. It wasn’t until I read Susan Cain’s ‘Quiet’ that I realize that I maybe an introvert. And by reading a couple more introverted books that I can claim that I am. Coming to this acceptance has made me feel more confident about myself…love to stay home and read a book and when I go out, I try to limit it to small amount of people.
    Enjoy FinCon Liz, hopefully you have a recap when you get back!!

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