A 20-Year Journey with WordPress: How It Saved My Life

Everyone carries with them a unique story – a personal narrative that shapes them, drives them, and imbues their lives with purpose. As I reflect on my own narrative, particularly over the past two decades since I first discovered WordPress, I realize it’s a tale of struggle, resilience, and an incredible community that held me up when I needed it most.

Even though WordPress was released for the first time in May 2003, it was seven years later, in 2010, when I became an active contributing member of this thriving community. Nevertheless, WordPress has been an integral part of my life for the past 20 years, shaping my journey in ways I could never have anticipated.

My journey with WordPress has been like a roller coaster ride with highs, lows, and unexpected turns that constantly tested my strength.

As a single mother post-divorce, with my five, now nearly grown children, I grappled with emotional turmoil alongside financial instability. These were daunting times, but I persevered, bolstered by the supportive WordPress community and my unwavering commitment to my children. Now, in a loving relationship for over nine years, with a partner who has wholeheartedly supported my recovery from health struggles and the aftermath of a draining divorce battle, I continue to draw on this resilience and community strength as I journey forward.

I honed my skills in training for WordPress, specializing in assisting individuals and small businesses, as well as providing support to website owners who grapple with building their sites using WordPress. My active contributions over the years have taken many forms, from leading the make/WordPress Marketing in Germany, serving as a Global Polyglots team mentor, acting as Locale Manager for de.w.org, to making numerous contributions to the various WordPress make teams.

The joy I derive from attending Meetups and WordCamps, and onboarding new contributors to WordPress, is as constant as it was when I first began. Seeing the spark of understanding and excitement on someone’s face when they learn something new or feel part of this vibrant community is a reward in itself.

But life had more trials to throw my way. Between a debilitating virus infection, a lifelong hip deformation resulting in hip arthrosis and subsequent total hip replacements in 2021 and 2022, a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s disease in 2014, and dealing with the lingering effects of ME/CFS, I have faced my share of health hurdles. Which unfortunately led to taking a contributing sabbatical over the course of three years. These challenges have pushed me to my lowest point, where I’ve found myself questioning my ability to endure and persist. But once again, it was the WordPress community that threw me a lifeline.

Finding Strength in Shared Journeys: The Solidarity of the WordPress Community

Over these two decades, there have been countless moments when the WordPress community stepped up, offering me support and kindness that reached beyond simple assistance. These instances weren’t just about lending a hand; they were lifelines that restored my spirit and reaffirmed my place within this global community. Every time I chose to be open about my hardships, I was greeted with overwhelming empathy and understanding, which served as a beacon of hope, strengthening my resolve and reigniting my sense of purpose.

This consistent show of solidarity wasn’t just morale-boosting; it was life-altering. It underscored the true might of the WordPress community — a group that rallied to support one of its own in times of need. But it also highlighted an area where I felt there was room for improvement. It’s during these times of reflection that I became more aware of the necessity for a deeper commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIBDEIB DEIB stands for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging.) within the WordPress community.

With the passion I’ve gained from my personal journey, I’ve become an advocate for DEIB, consistently pushing for increased representation and visibility of underrepresented groups within the WordPress community. One area I’ve been particularly vocal about is the need for more robust sponsorships for individuals who make substantial contributions to WordPress, beyond just the core committer level. While we have made significant strides, I believe there’s still more we can do to truly embody the spirit of openness and inclusivity that lies at the heart of WordPress.

Celebrating Two Decades with WordPress: A Life of Balance, Value, and Connection

Today, as I mark two decades with WordPress, I celebrate each day I am alive. My definition of success has evolved to become about balance – the ability to take care of my family while bringing value to others, seeing the sparkle in the eyes of those I train or mentor, and remaining an active, contributing member of the WordPress community.

As I compose this post, the first of a new series on my central hub site, coachbirgit.com, I’m filled with anticipation for what lies ahead in my ongoing journey with WordPress. Over the years, this platform and its community have profoundly shaped my life, and I’m eager to explore the potential of our shared future.

Throughout my career, my focus has largely been on building remarkable websites with WordPress. However, in line with my chosen word of the year, ’emerging’, I am now turning my attention towards documenting my legacy. Rather than being a sporadic blogger, I aim to share my thoughts consistently, insights, and concerns.

This reflective post, marking two decades with WordPress, signifies a new beginning for me – a transition to public self-expression. My intention is to avoid scattering my content across various project websites or social profiles, and instead, consolidate my writings on this central hub – as it should be to democratize publishing. In doing so, I hope to offer valuable perspectives, foster open conversations, and contribute even more to our vibrant community. Let’s embark on this next chapter together, and I can’t wait to see where our collective efforts will lead us.

Join Me in Championing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging in WordPress

As I continue to advocate for greater diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging within the WordPress community, I invite you to join me on this journey. Your support can be the catalyst for transformative change. Whether you’re an individual or a company, you can play a pivotal role in creating a more inclusive environment within our community.

By sponsoring my efforts, you’re not just supporting me – you’re investing in the future of the WordPress community. If you believe, like I do, that we can do more to make our community a better and safer place for all, then I urge you to consider sponsorship. Your contribution will fuel ongoing initiatives, help amplify the voices of the underrepresented, and ensure that the values of DEIB are consistently promoted in our shared spaces.

Let’s Partner for a More Inclusive Future

Interested in supporting my continuous effort to enrich the WordPress community with greater diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB)? I invite you to visit my Github sponsor profile, where you’ll find various tiers of sponsorship to choose from.

By partnering with me, you’ll be directly contributing to making the WordPress ecosystem a more diverse and inclusive space. For further details, or to discuss other potential ways we can collaborate, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Together, we can pave the way for a more inclusive WordPress community.

P.S.: For those reading this, remember, there’s always light, even in the darkest of times. All you need to do is reach out and ask.

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  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story! What a journey.

    As a global community across so many countries it’s hard to talk about diversity in a way that translates, what I really want people to feel is always welcome, supported, and kind. I want people to feel seen as themselves, not judged as a group or by their characteristics.

    Every individual is beautiful, unique, deserving of love, and can be part of something bigger than themselves.

    1. Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts, Matt.

      I entirely agree that creating a welcoming and supportive community that values each individual’s uniqueness is essential. It can be challenging to address diversity in a way that translates across different cultures and backgrounds, but it’s crucial that we continue to advocate for greater DEIBDEIB DEIB stands for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. within the WordPress community.

      By doing so, we can create an environment where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued for who they are, rather than being judged based on group or characteristic.

      The future of inclusivity in WordPress depends on the continued efforts of the community. To better understand the vast scope of DEIB initiatives within the WordPress community, I invite you to also read my recent blog post: “Proposal: WordPress DEIB Committee – Establishing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging within the WordPress Community“.

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