A few weeks ago I spoke at my first conference; Future Sync in Plymouth. I had an amazing time, but not for the reasons you may think…

Firstly I’d like to thank Tony and the Future Sync team for having me. It was a real honour to be chosen to speak and I was both excited and terrified about what would await me.

What if I was rubbish at speaking?

What if no one liked what I said?

What if I actually don’t know anything about Social Listening? (I have massive imposter syndrome but that’s a topic for another blog.)

And my ultimate fear: what if no one showed up for my talk?

I’m pleased to say that none of the above terrible things happened. I’d like to think my talk was a success: people came, clapped, congratulated me and asked me questions afterwards; all of which I’m taking as a positive sign.

But what was so much more important to me was the community at this conference.

For those of you who’ve read my writing before, you’ll know I’m a self-confessed misfit. I don’t fit into any set group or sector. I’m very used to always being that person on the outside no matter where I am or what I do. But, for one of the first times in my life, at this conference, as my first time as a speaker at any conference (which makes what I’m about to say even more important to me) I felt like I belonged.

I was welcomed by tech geeks, coders, speakers, hosts, directors, attendees and everyone in between. For one of the first times in my life, I didn’t feel like I was trying to fit it. I felt like I was meant to be there.

The other, much more experienced speakers welcomed me, gave me words of wisdom and the key note even ushered me to my seat when I was trying to hide at the back.

People spoke to me like I was a welcome friend instead of the misfit who wasn’t quite tech enough to be tech but definitely wasn’t cool enough to be anything. And for that, I’d like to thank everyone who attended this conference. I’d like to thank Tony and his awesome team. And I’d like to tell everyone who’s ever felt like me, a misfit and a bit of a fraud, be brave and be patient, you’ll find your place in the world. Normally when you least expect it.

Katherine George

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