From 2003 until around 2005 WordPress was something that I used to run a makeshift blog that I updated daily during my breaks between classes and work at Rice. It was a tool like any other tool; I wasn’t interested in anything other than whether or not it would allow me to write on the web.
Soon after graduating in 2006 I learned that WordPress was a way for me to put food on the table. Until around 2009 I was an independent contractor who spent every waking moment learning the platform in earnest and hoping to make a career out of it. WordPress was a permanent way out of the United States for me; it was a vehicle.
When Graph Paper Press happened in 2009 I learned that WordPress was friendship. Those two-plus years with Thad and Chandra were among the best of my life. My father died immediately after I started working at Graph Paper Press and Thad was supportive, understanding, never bossy, and never unreasonable. I was able to work when I wanted to work and I felt like the two were more than colleagues. They still are. I miss it and make a point to visit Chandra in Nepal as much as I can. I’ve never felt as valued as I did then.
Automattic was as much about making a massive impact on the web as it was feeling validated about my skill set as a developer. For as long as I live I will never doubt myself again. I worked with the best and brightest in the world and held my own, taught others, and changed lives. WordPress became social and political during these years. It was a hard balance to maintain being a pure developer and managing the corporate side of life.
It was a stressful time and I was always sick. I failed at maintaining a balance in my life and felt massive pressure at all times to perform at a high level. I was unhappy and especially unhappy at myself for not being able to find a balance with the company.
The last year WordPress was community. I spent a lot of time on _s, building up the WordPress meetup group in Hanoi, developing the first WordCamp in Vietnam, and, when time allowed, advising premium theme shops on how to develop themes the right way. Last year was about taking back control over my life, appreciating community, growing my personal roots in Hanoi, and spreading the gospel of WordPress to a new place.
For the last few months WordPress has become software to me again, a tool. For the next few years it will continue to be a tool. Just software, nothing more. Sure, we’ll have the meetups in Hanoi and possibly another WordCamp, if the community wants it. But for the most part it will be code to me. That’s it.
It won’t be news or drama or politics or this or that. It will quite literally just be code. I’ve found that when I’m able to do nothing but stare a computer screen with lines of poetry on it I’m able to do beautiful things.