You’re Not Alone, We All Start Somewhere
Whether you are a siloed introvert, a bubbling extrovert, or somewhere in-between, meeting new people and engrossing yourself in an unfamiliar circle can be intimidating, frustrating, overwhelming, and at times, quite lonely. If you’re green to all things WordPress, just know you are in good hands. So, take a deep breath, you’re with a worldwide network of friends already.
This Isn’t a Pretender’s Game
You don’t have to feign your way through the beginning of your WordPress journey. Whether you be a budding developer, artist, designer, blogger, or you just discovered the internet and WP yesterday, you won’t be judged for your standing in the company of WordPress users.
To give you an example, I grew up in church, played multiple sports in my youth, been a member of numerous hobbyist groups, served in the U.S. Navy, attended college…and not a one of them was as inviting, accepting, and authentic as the WordPress community.
A WordPress Meet-up Can Change Your Life
I myself discovered WordPress rather recently, in 2015 in fact, thanks a coworker from years past (oh, those retail management days, how fun). One would think, “Okay, obviously this person was your sole link and gateway to all things WordPress”, not so. I was almost immediately made aware of our local WP Chattanooga meet-up, and from my first nod, handshake and “hello”, I had a swathe of new friends, and was graciously accepted into the WP family in a near blink of an eye.
My adventure didn’t stop there either, I was soon after invited to the office of the WP Ninjas, where I essentially placed myself in a corner and opted an internship while also working two jobs and going to school. Before I knew it, I suddenly found myself working for the Ninjas and I was attending my first WordCamp in San Diego thanks to a man I now consider a dear friend, (our company CEO) James Laws. Mind you, this was a trip, an opportunity which I NEVER would have been able to afford at the time. All at once, I was meeting and greeting beginners, intermediate and journeyman WordPressers left’n’right, each genuinely interested in my story, my journey. THAT’S WordPress!
Now, I’m not saying you have to repeat or imitate my journey, but I do want to get across one very important thing I consider instrumental in walking the path that changed my life, that which led to a career path, an earnest living wage, and provided my wife, son and I with our first home…seriously, if you take nothing else from reading, let it be this: you need to FIND YOURSELF A LOCAL MEET-UP.
Meet-ups are everywhere now, and they are full of the same caring people, the same like minded individuals I’ve come to know and love. And that’s what’s so awesome, and what makes WP so much more than software, the WordPress populace is so eager to help one another, it’s ingrained in who we are, often times before we’ve ever actually participated in the WP ecosphere. WordPress has an uncanny way of gathering good apples, and I’d argue that the core of WordPress’s approachable community lies in the four primary principles of open source software:
- The freedom to use the software for any purpose.
- The freedom to change the software to suit your needs.
- The freedom to share the software with your friends and neighbours.
- The freedom to share the changes you make.
With the above context in mind, it’s easy to see where I’m coming from when referencing the community’s openness and giving nature.
You’ve Joined a Level Playing Field
Ease your mind, know there aren’t many ‘holier-than-thou’ community members, no untouchables to speak of. In WordPress, pretension is out-the-window; sure, you have a wealth of very successful individuals, couples, cofounders, executives, etc., but in this writer’s own experience, no one is out of reach.
You’re just as able to approach and converse with beginners like yourself as you are with the likes of Chris Lema, Jennifer Bourn, Sherry Walling, and Chris Ford, without having to even consider being ‘blown-off’. Even at the most recent WordCamp US, as I exited after the State of the Word 2017, I passed by (founder of Automattic) Matt Mullenweg, whom was happily chatting along and providing advice to a WordPress beginner, no hastily delivered words, no glancing at watches, just kindness and genuine interest.
In what other industry or community would one be able to do that, when starting off, just hitting the ground running? Go ahead, think of one, I’ll wait…no pressure.
Pay it Forward!
All in all, get involved. Find a meet-up in your area, and don’t be afraid to speak up, attempt being a helpful hand, or even a listening ear. Remember, as with anything in life, we are all new at some point, just be sure to pay it forward and be there for another “WordPresser” when given the opportunity.
This community is wonderful, fruitful, and thriving, you just need step out of your comfort zone, and abandon preconceived notions of ‘us and them’ in approaching WordPress veterans. From monthly community meet-ups in your city/town, WordCamps, WordCamp ‘hallway tracks’, social media, or good ol’fashioned email, take that first step, introduce yourself, make friends; in the process, perhaps even find yourself a business partner, an affiliate, or a healthy (and friendly) rival. At least for me, WP is where I choose to be!