Chasing the Digital Dream

You probably think you’re about to read some sappy inspirational shit by clicking on this blog title. Guess what? You’re not wrong!

See, I’ve been doing some really cool stuff lately. Stuff that I’m really proud of myself for. Last month, I completed my very first semester of college. I’m 32-years-old and only earned 7 college credits since I’m going part-time, but even that is a huge achievement. I never thought I’d set foot in an educational institution again after graduating from high school. I was silly and thought that I didn’t have the time or the money. I was truly stupid to believe that I was too old and that my ship had already sailed. Here’s a piece of advice that I’ve learned for myself over the past year: Money is trivial, you can sleep when you’re dead, and it’s never too late.

WordPress Logo.
WordPress. <3

When I started developing Almost Epic on a whim, I got really obsessed with the WordPress platform. Little did I know that there was a huge difference between it and its hosted sister site WordPress.com, which I had always used for “serious blogging” (read: not the hipster scroll they call Tumblr) in the past. With your own self-hosted WordPress platform, you can create a website for practically any purpose you can imagine. It’s beautiful and it’s functional. And perhaps most importantly, as a big nerd who enjoys being creative, I just plain think it’s fun! And it made me realize that this is what I should be doing as a career. But without the professional experience or proof of education, I wasn’t really all that likely to find very many high-paying professional clients who’re interested in my amateur WordPress-related web development skills. Unless I went to school or started seriously taking the time to learn on my own, there was no way that I could, as they say, “quit my day job.”

It was that realization along with a couple of other startling developments in my personal life that motivated me to enroll in school late last year. And while I’m not currently active in my “official” studies (Ivy Tech didn’t offer any courses that I needed to take right away during summer sessions), I’ve still been keeping my mind active. Though I wanted to make getting into the planning/journaling world and learning how to knit priorities for my summer, neither of those activities have unraveled quite as much as continuing my development skills. Which honestly speaks volumes… Because really, when you find something that you enjoy doing, you should find a way to do it forever.

Here’s what I’ve been up to so far this summer:

  • Deepening my understanding of actual programming languages starting with the basics of HTML and CSS (Hypertext Markup Language and Cascading Style Sheets for my non-techie readers) on the magnificent site Codecademy!
  • Installing Oracle VirtualBox and booting up my own virtual computer running Linux instead of Windows — because I’ve been told Ubuntu is where it’s at, especially for professional developers! And also, as I learned in my Informatics Fundamentals class this past spring semester, virtualization software is the future!
  • Installing XAMPP and Bitnami and learning how to go all “developer mode” and create websites and web apps on my own machine before launching them online for the world to see. (Psst, this is what I’ve been testing WordPress theme designs with before applying them to Almost Epic!)
  • Learning how to develop and launch my own instance of free, open source community software Discourse!

Getting a virtual desktop running on Ubuntu and getting an instance of Discourse up and running in particular were extremely challenging to me. Mostly because I didn’t even really know where to start. But something that I learned while doing all of these activities is that you can do anything you put your mind to. It’s a cliché for sure, but in today’s age where information about anything is only a Google search away, it’s impossible not to believe it. And one of the best feelings in the world is not failing at something a million and one times, but finally succeeding on the million and second.

I can’t wait to keep learning!

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