Me in Korea last March—at the time, still fiercely guarding my identity!
I mentioned in my Q1 blog update that I’d recently decided to come out with my identity. (Eek!) Yep, I agreed to be interviewed and photographed for a magazine article.
Before I share the article, I thought I’d explain why I’ve blogged anonymously (until now) and why I finally decided to come out…
Why so private?
From the beginning of my blogging journey, I’ve been very careful about how much I reveal online. Here are some of the reasons why:
- I’m worried about internet weirdos and trolls.
- I’m protective of my family’s privacy.
- I’m nervous about revealing our FI plans to friends who may not get it.
- I didn’t want too many people in real life knowing about my blog (in case it was a total flop)!
For these reasons and more, I decided it was best to start blogging anonymously. That way, I could always choose to keep my identity secret—or reveal more as I felt more comfortable. (Which is what I’ve ended up doing.)
If I’d been asked a year ago to appear in a magazine article, the answer would’ve been an immediate and hard no. But now that I’ve been blogging for 16 months, I feel more comfortable with putting myself out there. Here’s why:
- The personal finance community is unbelievably warm and welcoming. I’ve been SO lucky to have only had positive, friendly interactions online. This has helped to build my courage and confidence.
- I’m just a little bit proud of what I’ve built with this blog and my podcast. 😊 If friends and acquaintances stumble across it, I hope they do figure out it’s me… and come asking for more info about FI.
- My big goal for this blog is to spread the FIRE (especially in Canada). That’s because I believe in FI and its potential to change lives and the world. The more I put myself out there, the more I can further this goal.
I’ll never reveal everything, but I’ve come to believe that sharing more about myself is overall a good thing. 👍
The story behind the story
Now that you know why I chose to be anonymous (and why I changed my mind) it’s time to share the story behind my magazine interview…
For all you impatient types
I know some of you just want to get to the interview and finally see what I look like! If that’s you, skip to my interview here: Meet the millennials who are reinventing retirement.
Be sure to check out the rest of the article too—other favourite Canadian bloggers are also featured! Now, for those who want the whole story and a peek behind the scenes, read on.
It all started with a message
I was intrigued, and asked him for more info. He said I would be one of a handful of other interviewees who’d be featured in the article. Cool! But then he threw me a curveball: this wasn’t just a written interview.
Nope—this was going to be the full meal deal. Not only would I have to make my identity public, but I’d also have to be photographed!!!
Stepping into the light
As you know, I blog anonymously and never show my face on my blog or social media. The only image I share of myself is my cute little anime avatar (courtesy of the lovely and talented Emiko at the Kyoto Manga Museum):
Until now, this was the only image I’ve ever shared of myself
The prospect of revealing my identity in a national magazine was absolutely terrifying! My gut reaction was to politely say no and suggest someone else. But something stopped me.
In the back of my mind, I knew this interview was a big opportunity. It would not only help to spread the FIRE in Canada, but I could also share my blog and podcast with a new audience.
I knew I couldn’t let my fears hold me back. At that point, I was almost ready to say yes, but I paused and asked Ali if I could think it over—there were a few things I needed to check before I committed.
Ali was very understanding, and said that was no problem. I agreed to get back to him within a day.
Doing my due diligence
To be honest, I’d never heard of Pivot Magazine before. (Which makes sense, since I’m not a CPA!) I wanted to learn more about them and what kind of magazine it was.
I found their PDF archive and downloaded a few of their past issues… and wow, was I impressed. Not only were the articles and writing engaging, but the design and photography were gorgeous.
I loved the tone, look, and feel of the magazine… and inched a little closer to saying yes.
Checking in with the family
The next thing I needed to do was check in with my family—I couldn’t make this decision without them. For this, I turned to my three closest confidantes: my husband M, my twin sister, and M’s mom.
I wanted them to tell me if I was making a horrible mistake. Was I crazy to do this? Their thoughts were unanimous—it was definitely worth doing. Pivot was a legitimate, high-quality publication. As long as I didn’t reveal too much, it should be safe to go ahead with the interview.
With their support firmly in place, I took the plunge and messaged Ali—I was on board!
Two weeks of stress
Once I gave Ali the go-ahead, the wheels were set in motion. We agreed on an interview date, then he told me that Pivot would arrange for a local photographer to do the photo shoot.
All of this was to happen within two weeks—yikes! Naturally, I spent the entire two weeks freaking out:
- Will I regret outing myself?
- Will I flub the interview?
- What if I say something wrong?
- What should I wear for the shoot?
- What if I look horrid in the photo?
- What if people are shocked by how different I look from my cute little anime avatar?
- Where will we do the shoot—inside or outside?
- If it’s inside, our house isn’t ‘showhomey’ enough to be photographed!
- If it’s outside, what will we do if it rains?
Ack! I had so many worries, and there were so many unknowns. It was all I could do to hold it together.
My interview with Ali happened within a few days, and it went really well. (Mostly because Ali is a fantastic interviewer!) He gave me time to answer each question in-depth, and spent time clarifying things so he could be as accurate as possible.
I think we were on the phone for 30–40 minutes, but it felt like only 10. I can’t say enough nice things about Ali. He’s a lovely person and so pleasant to talk to. He put me at ease and seemed genuinely interested in learning more about me and FIRE.
Ali was also extremely accommodating with my desire to preserve as much privacy as possible. He worked with me and his editor to allow me to keep some things private: my family’s names and ages, where my husband works, and a photo of our entire family.
Thank you for all your patience and understanding, Ali!
The interview was so enjoyable, and it turned out to be the easy part. Unfortunately, the much scarier part was still to come…
Soon after my interview with Ali, I received an email from a Vancouver-based photographer named Grady Mitchell. We emailed back and forth and agreed on a date to meet.
Unfortunately, as I’d worried it would, it rained on the day of the shoot. And it wasn’t just any old rain—it was a torrential downpour. ALL day.
On the morning of the shoot, Grady and I texted each other to decide what to do. We both agreed that an outdoor setting was far more desirable, and he assured me that he was game to shoot in the rain. So that’s what we did!
Challenge upon challenge
For about 45 minutes, Grady, Mika and I traipsed around the forest as the rain came pouring down. It was so wet that my waterproof mascara ran and my waterproof jacket leaked—ugh.
Sheltering under the trees wasn’t an option because it was a really dark day, and Grady needed us out in the light. To keep myself from looking like a drowned rat, I had to put on my hood between shots, then take it off right before Grady was ready to shoot.
It was not an easy situation to photograph in, but Grady handled all of it like a pro. He was an absolute pleasure to work with—so much so that I’d do it all over again! If you’re looking for a talented photographer in the Vancouver area, I’d highly recommend Grady.
Photographer on FIRE
To top it all off, Grady told me he knew about FIRE and had been living the FIRE lifestyle long before he even discovered it. He lived efficiently, cooked almost all his meals at home, and didn’t own a car. How awesome is that?!
The article portrays FIRE in a realistic, positive way—no extremism or bashing. If this was the only article someone read about the FIRE movement, I’d be very happy with that.
It shows that we’re regular Canadians who just made some optimized, deliberate choices to live our best lives. I’m proud to be included in this esteemed group of FIRE walkers, and hope that our stories inspire others to learn more.
Despite all my fretting and worrying, the photo turned out beautifully—even though I look a little too smiley! My sister took one look and said, “That’s so you!” And I guess she’s right. All my life, I’ve been teased for my perma-smile. Ha ha.
I do wish I could make some minor edits to the article though. For one, I’d say that I now see the value of a good financial planner. (We’ve been with ours for over two years, and couldn’t be happier.) I’d also remove the mention of us going to Okinawa in March (which as you all know, we didn’t)!
Still, I couldn’t be happier with the article. Ali did a fantastic job of condensing our interview into a wonderful write-up, and Grady’s photography was superb. I’m grateful to have had this opportunity, and I hope it does help to spread the FIRE.
How I feel about anonymity now
Surprisingly, now that the cat’s out of the bag, I’m not so scared to have my name and face out there. I hope my lack of anime eyes and cuteness wasn’t too much of a shock! But I also hope, now that you know what I look like, you feel you know me a little better.
At this time, I have no plans to share more photos of me or to stop using my anime portrait. Maybe in the future I’ll splash my face all over the blog, but for now, it’ll just stay here. 🙂
Share your thoughts
Are you an anonymous blogger? If so, would you ever consider ‘coming out’? If not, do you regret being in the public eye?
And what do you think of the article? Was it fair to the FIRE community? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
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