As a WordPress Developer, I want to build custom, extensible solutions for clients that help them achieve their business goals through a positive and engaging user experience while making use of appropriate solutions to optimize database management, minimize server load, and oh yeah, do it with beautiful design too. I want to be the kind of highly skilled and versatile designer and developer I’ve always admired and other professionals look up to. I want other developers to look at my work and be impressed and say, great work on the details, design, and architecture.
On the road to being that kind of professional, I’ve traveled from being an educator – my undergrad degree is in Elementary Education – to (terrible) hand-coded HTML and CSS, to being a progressively more creative and skillful WordPress Implementer (read: client-based theme selection and customization, plugin evaluation and selection, minor to intermediate code fixes), to now, what I would actually refer to as WordPress Developer (…and Digital Strategist, yes, they go together for me). I’m a systems thinker, and my background in teaching and advisement is a huge help in working with clients as I explain what I can and can’t do whether it’s in regard to my current skill set or their budgetary constraints. Discovering the holes in my skill set took longer than I thought as I became bored with my work and didn’t understand why. I would grit my teeth when clients praised my “amazing” work. After all, I didn’t design and build the theme or the plugin that solved their problem. I was just a really well paid personal shopper. I eventually figured out that the reason I felt like a fraud was because I wanted to build those things myself, instead of just modifying someone else’s recipe.
If only I hadn’t turned myself away from computing because I kept failing math in high school. If only I’d had the courage to do something I thought wasn’t smart enough to be good at. If only I’d kept taking pictures of random stuff. In short, fear can truly f!ck up your life. Don’t give in to it. If you get nothing else from this particular ramble, take that nugget. I guess it’s appropriate to have this discussion with yourself as you approach 40 (a matter of weeks now). I’m having this internal discussion here in public so that maybe someone struggling with “it’s too late” or “I’ve already failed at this” or “this is hard as hell” will be inspired to do it anyway. I’m a single parent with too much education and an aversion to working a regular job that is so severe that it manifests itself physically.
Here’s the “so what?” part. My dissertation is on usability of learning management systems and the way students with low technology backgrounds interact with them. (Hint: not well.) Usability and user experience are important to me, and being able to build beautiful experiences from the inside out makes me excited. I’m building on my knowledge to acquire the additional skills I need to feel confident in my growth as a professional. My Projects page here will grow as my personal journal as I fill in the gaps. It will reflect my interpretation of solutions to problems that frustrated me with previous Flow clients, and vanity projects (read: I saw something awesome and now I want to see if I can do it from scratch). It will also hold my photography portfolio. Despite the fact that there seems to be no tangible evidence to support the claim yet, I identify myself as a Full Stack WordPress Developer and Commercial Photographer. Why? Because that’s what I want to be when I grow up. Because my kids need to see that Mommy is serious about a lifetime of learning. Because to date, I have accomplished everything that I focused my wholehearted energy on, whether I was truly interested or not, whether the venture itself was successful or not. Because the tech conferences that I want to go to are still woefully lacking in black women, and I intend to be all up and through those big stages over the next few years. Because watch me do it.
PS – if you’re wondering why WordPress Developer and not just Developer, it’s because WP is where I have chosen to specialize. You can build wild and wonderful things with WordPress. I intend to build on it as an applications framework. I want people to lose at theme bingo when they look at my work. So, there it is.