This one time, at WordCamp, a light-bulb switched on. It was the summer of 2010. I was just finishing up a three-year contract as a librarian at the University of Arkansas. I had done a tiny bit of design work and, at that point, had been working with WordPress for about three or four years. I knew the Dashboard. I knew about plugins and stats and the Editor. I also knew, however, that I really I didn’t know much at all. I didn’t know much, that is, until I went to WordCamp Fayetteville.
WordCamp 2010 was a focused, light, sometimes intense and, at other times, fun, shared learning experience. For the first time, I was exposed to subjects I didn’t have any direct experience with: custom posts, BuddyPress, and CSS3 to name a few. I had heard of these things, but I couldn’t explain how these things worked to another Camper. At the same time, however, I learned that there were some things I knew how to do; things other people struggled with. I knew how to write. I knew how to use WordPress for non-profits on a shoestring budget. I knew about analytics; and I knew some of the best practices for integrating social media with WP.
WordCamp was the perfect litmus test for me, especially since I was switching careers and coming out of a profession I had been working in for the previous nine years. I needed to know if I could really make a run at a career in the design world or if I should just stick with academia. I was worried. I was unemployed. I was mentally wandering and wasn’t sure where I would land. Thankfully, I found a place I can call “home.”
One of the most unexpected things I learned at WordCamp, besides all of the technical “hard” skills, was that there is a strong, active, global and inspiring community of artists and entrepreneurs who are always looking for fresh eyes and new energy. I met business owners, journalists, community organizers and other creatives at WordCamp, some of which I have become great friends with since then.
Through WordCamp, I gained confidence in myself, learned about my own skills and abilities, and connected with an energetic group of collaborative, talented and Fonzie-cool people that I just want to hang around with all the time. Sometimes I wish I could miniaturize them and carry them around in my pocket a couple of times a week. Thankfully, because of WordCamp, I sort of do. We guest blog for each other. We follow each others’ tweets and wall posts; and we learn and problem-solve together. I love my WP friends.
Thanks for connecting us, WordCamp Fayetteville.