This weekend marked my third year attending FinCon. I wasn’t sure if I should write a new post because I didn’t think I would have much more to say after my first one…
I was wrong.
#FinCon19 topped all the others for a variety of reasons. Here is a quick glimpse behind the scenes of the last 5 days that most likely cost me a month off my total lifespan due to lack of sleep, dehydration, and mass quantities of pizza.
First off, my Caboose Crew friends and I landed at DCA an hour prior to the Single Mingle I was hosting. We were already walking zombies from 3 nights of limited rest plus an early morning wake up call, so the time crunch certainly added a facet of insanity to the agenda. Nothing like starting FinCon off in a frenzied rush!!
Red – Married or in a couple
Yellow – It’s complicated (y’all are a complicated bunch!!)
Green – Single (SOOOOOO many singles!!)
Blue – ………..ahem………..
Our FinCon crowd quickly packed the house with around 80 people joining in the fun. It was so successful, in fact, that I have taken on the responsibility to host a single’s event every FinCon going forward (I have THE BEST themed idea for next year – stay tuned!!). There was a lot of potential for love in that room and I am pretty sure I saw it blossoming between a few of the attendees. Rosy cheeks, starry eyes – it had to be more than just the cheap drinks, right?!! ❤
At my first FinCon back in 2017, I remember admiring all of the panel speakers and their ability to talk coherently in such a public setting. I NEVER thought I would be one of those people on stage but this year I was. I had the pleasure of sitting on a FIRE panel with three of my dear friends (plus one who moderated) discussing life after FI and all the twists and turns that go with it. My imposter syndrome was REAL y’all, but I didn’t let it consume me. I somehow managed to get through the entire hour without making a complete ass of myself (that may be subject to interpretation). Plus, I didn’t get sick or pass out or die like me of 3 years ago was convinced I would.
If you were at the Single Mingle you may have noticed some blue stickers on a few of my friends. It was meant to be an insiders club of those who have visited the cabeese but the term “Caboose Curious” somehow got attached and the inappropriate (yet hysterical) puns snowballed out of control from there. In fact, the very last question of the FIRE panel was aimed at my caboose which naturally led the conversation in a direction I hadn’t planned for…like how much Mrs. 1500 Days and her husband, Carl, enjoyed being inside my caboose. Again, THIS WAS DURING MY PANEL…WHICH WAS RECORDED!!! What can I say? I probably won’t be asked back as a speaker due to the scandalous nature and tone but in an effort to make this BAD into a GOOD, there was so much caboose talk in all the days going forward that this FI community will be sold out before you know it! Silver linings.
And on to the stinkiest of the BAD.
One of my favorite spots to relax at the hotel was the sprawling patio. If you timed it just right you could lay in a cushy half circled chair covered by the shade of a giant umbrella and let the conversation (and drinks) flow freely. One particular day the conversation flowed to bowel movements and other strange habits that come with them…like when they don’t flow. Not finance related but interesting all the same. I learned things I never knew existed, as one who believes in the tenants of educating others, later decided to pass on my newfound knowledge to some new-found friends. When I asked the crowd if they sit or stand to wipe (I know, I was shocked to hear there was an option) only one woman seemed bothered and excused herself from the nearby table. Clearly, she wasn’t our people. It’s a good thing she left when she did since the follow-up question was a bit more probing.
J.D. was horrified yet intrigued…
Maybe you had to be there.
Unfortunately, I became known as the girl that asks “that” question. Turning that BAD into a GOOD would seem to most to be an impossible feat but thankfully some see talent where others don’t. I am proud to announce that due to my 10-year-old potty humor, I have been asked to be a regular on a new podcast with 2 dudes of similar humor. I’m looking forward to bringing my J game (apparently a J is a good sign when you look down after a poop. More things I learned this weekend!!). Oh, and as an added bonus, I was told by someone that I have the humor of nobody they’d ever met. I’ve chosen to take that as a compliment. 🙂
The Could Have Been UGLY
Let’s see…from shit to shitty.
In an effort to not become the Taylor Swift of Blogging I’ll keep this one brief. The FIRE community is relatively small and difficult to hide in if/when shit hits the fan. It doesn’t get any more ugly than trying to avoid your ex-boyfriend in an attempt to prolong the awkward first meeting after a hard breakup. Though our parting was mutual and both of us have moved on, hanging out together in a kicked back easy-going manner is not likely to happen any time soon. Possibly ever. We did manage a quick conversation and a brief goodbye so that’s something, but being forced into such situations is cringe-worthy at best…especially for our mutual friends, many of whom played interference without our even asking. Bless you, dear friends!! You all get gold stars for your efforts!!
Lesson learned: Don’t Shit Where You FIRE.
Also in the UGLY category…
The closing party afterparty in the basement led to some raucous behavior when I challenged Mrs. WoW to a giant balloon-popping contest that quickly escalated and ended with the blood and possibly broken bones of a few participants shortly after I left. Sometimes you just have to know when to stop…apparently that time is 1 minute after getting red wine dumped on me and 5 minutes before the bleeding begins. 😉 That being said, it made for a very entertaining bit of fun.
But let’s end this post on a high note. Back to the GOOD…
This is a weird thing to declare publically (especially given all the nonsense in this post), but I am so very proud of myself. Stage fright has been an issue for me since that time I was a little girl in a ballet recital, messing up in front of the audience and not being able to find my place again. That same fear followed me through piano recital screw-ups and soccer league mishaps until the final straw during 7th-grade cheerleading tryouts where I completely froze during the routine that I knew so well I had taught all of my friends how to master it. But they didn’t freeze. I did. And I never tried out for anything again. Until this year.
This past year I have pushed myself HARD to get out of my comfort zone. To get back on stage and not succumb to fear. I’ve said yes to things I normally wouldn’t like a live interview on the local morning news (that was terrifying!!) or the MarketWatch video that included a man following me around for 2 days watching my every move. I also sought out opportunities such as being on two panels at Lola Retreat and setting up my own panel for FinCon this year (that one didn’t go through and I suspect it was the title “Females of FIRE – How We Reached FI Without Balls”). Either way, I pushed myself forward. And I am so happy I did.
If you are struggling to get out of your comfort zone, like I was (and still am), please take a second to look back and see who you were a few years ago. And a few years before that. Have you changed at all? Do you really want to?? If you are in this space and wanting to dive deeper, maybe start with attending a local event or dare I say next year’s FinCon. Put your self out there. The worst that can happen is you stumble upon a poop-related conversation and you have to change seats. The best that can happen is you become the person asking the poop-related questions. Even better, you become friends with the type of people who will answer such questions.
My steps to rid myself of stage fright have been teeny-tiny up until this year. I thought about it, I had nightmares about it, but I never thought I would actually push myself to get over it. I went from baby steps to leaps and bounds this year and I’ll tell ya, with all of the amazing feedback I’ve received from people in that time and especially the last few days, it was all worth it. The anxiety, the fear, nausea. Worth it.
So thank you to everyone along the way that has inspired me, supported me, and convinced me that my story is worth sharing. YOU are the reason I can get up on stage and pretend to feel confident that I belong there (someday I hope to actually be confident). YOU are the reason that I haven’t choked. YOU are the reason I keep telling my truth. YOU are the reason I can be my silly old self, poop jokes and all, and still manage to have friends, new and old, at the end of what may have been the longest weekend of my life. No regrets!
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
See you at #FinCon20!!!
PS – If you want to read my FinCon post of yesteryear, click HERE! I promise it’s worth a gander.