After delving into the awesome-sauce podcasts over at wpBuilds, I started thinking about my own journey into web design and the path I took me from a curious kid to a professional web designer, then to finding my soulmate and growing this business and our lives together. It’s a nerdy love story about how I fell in love with web design, which eventually lead me to falling in love with my best friend and fiancé.
It began, as most stories do, in a simpler time… I was about 12 years old and it’s the mid-90s, read: a snail could crawl across the room before you could download most files, especially a photograph, and that’s if the internet didn’t drop out. With nothing more than a clunky PC and a screechy, pay-by-the-minute, dial-up modem barely tethering me to America Online – I found my sanctuary.
I didn’t set out to be a freelance web designer. As a kid, I had no idea web design could become more than a hobby that none of my other friends found nearly as cool or as interesting as I did. Self isolation become my new normal, although I enjoyed the quiet and reprieve from my regular home life that was, in a word, chaotic. Held up in my room, I would dissect lines of code while trying to make something resembling a decent, functional website instead of some Picasso-esque mess. It took a couple years, but I was a kid. I had nothing but time. Slowly, my skills started to build and I began finding paid work doing this thing that I didn’t even know would become my career.
After graduating from Portland State, I launched full-time as a Digital Nomad while I traveled the world and bounced around living between Perth, Western Australia and Singapore for a while. In both, I found clients that I continue to work with today, and who have referred me to other clients worldwide. Distance from my clients has never been a deterrent from me being able to do my job well and, in turn, see those clients return for more work in the future.
Traveling gave me a better appreciation for fully seeing and accepting who I am and how I choose to live life on my own terms, even if it’s not the usually path that other people take. It gave me a widened lens to be able to see the world from a broader perspective other than just my own, which benefits the way I design for my clients every day. They appreciate that I have traveled and/or lived in their culture and experienced first hand many of their special and unique eccentricities, which has helped me to build rapport with both businesses and the end-users.
This experience also made me have that “AH-HA!” moment one day when I realized, oh, I really am a web designer. This is my career. I’m doing it, and making money, and I love it! It’s weird how that realization doesn’t always click until it’s already been happening for a while. It was always just a hobby but now it had stealthily become my dream come true.
Being a freelancer can be a lonely life, especially since I’ve continued to work from home. So, near the end of March of 2016, I left my cozy inter-nest and nervously drove to my first web design Meetup at a bar in town. As I walked into Rontoms on Burnside, I immediately bumped into an acquaintance of mine from a couple years ago – Gar. Like me, he was there to meet other web geeks and hone his web design skills after completing his computer science degree with a minor in web design. We reconnected that day and have become best friends, business partners, and practically inseparable ever since.
Finding our passion lead us to finding each other, and now we’re engaged to be married. He’s the type someone I’d only dreamed about, but didn’t know if I’d ever find – someone who sees all of me, including all my weirdness, and loves and accepts all of it without seeking to change me. Someone who sees life as one big, hilarious adventure. He even has similar ambitions and ways of going about them, including traveling while still remaining career driven, and keeping that balance of a work to live, not live to work lifestyle.
Now, about a year and half later, we’ve moved to the Bay Area and have a dream of owning a Fifth Wheel (fancy RV/house on wheels) with a truck by mid-summer. That way, we’re never too settled but still have a place to call home. It allows us to travel and work from anywhere we go as we fully realize our dreams of becoming Digital Nomads. It may seem like a strange way of life to some but, to us, it’s a culmination of decades of hard work on our separate paths that finally lead us to each other. We only get one life to live it – so let’s roll out!
Thank you for reading my nerdy love story, and how I evolved from a kid with a dial-up modem to owning this company with my incredible fiancé and building a life worth living – together. We are synchronously building our dreams as we help you build yours. I look forward to getting to know you and your unique story whether as a client or as a fellow WordPress collaborator, and eventually as a friend.