On WordCamp US and the feeling of coming home

A banner with the WordCamp US logo flapping in the wind

Editor’s note: Yes, WordCamp US was back in September. And yes, I’m just now getting around to writing about my experience. I’ve finally been able to find the time and space to write about it now. So yeah.

There’s no place like home.

As someone who technically holds a journalism degree, I’ve learned to hate cliches. But there’s a reason that they are used a lot: for the most part they are true or at the very least there is some truth to them.

And really, there is no place like home.

Which is why my time at WordCamp US in San Diego back in September felt so amazing — it felt like coming home.

So one of my favorite parts about WordPress is the community around it. To make a long story short, that’s how I got to where I am today.

I wouldn’t have built my first WordPress theme and fallen in love with web development if it wasn’t for the WordPress theme directory. And if it weren’t for the local WordPress community here in Fort Worth, I would have never know about UNTHSC and that they had a WordPress developer position open.

And I love the local WP community here. I remember going to my first Fort Worth WordPress Meetup and immediately making friends that night. And the helping organize WordCamp DFW in 2017 and 2018 was a challenging but fun time.

But all of that was more or less taken away with the pandemic. The WordPress community here has struggled to come back, and it’s going to take a lot of work to change that. And even though obviously there is large WordPress community online, I struggled to feel that community of WordPress.

I’ve been wanting to go to a WordCamp US for five years now. I remember sitting at home seeing all of the WordCamp US 2017 tweets roll in and getting a huge case of FOMO. It looked like a lot of fun, and I wanted to be a part of it.

So walking into the Town and Country Resort that Friday morning I had a range of emotions: excitement to be with the WordPress community in person for the first time in what seemed like forever and anxious because how exactly was I supposed to WordCamp again after three years off.

I’m not going to lie, it took me a while to find my sea legs when I got in. While it might have been the smallest WordCamp US is a while, it was the largest WordCamp I had ever been at. And it was all overwhelming. So many sponsors. So many people. And for an introvert like myself, it was a challenge to figure where to jump in.

And to be quite honest, it really took me a while to finally talk to someone. I kind of loitered around waiting for the first talk to start. I did find a fellow UNTHSC employee who was at the conference. But it

Finally at lunchtime I finally struck up a conversation at lunch with a few people by asking something that my friend Marc Gratch always suggests to people going to a WordCamp: what do you do with WordPress?

And it from that point on, it was off to the races, so to speak. A lot of the specifics of each conversation the rest of the time escape me two months later, but I found myself enjoying talking to other people and feeling the support of the WordPress community in person once again.

I talked with people I knew, people I didn’t know and people that I only from their Twitter profile picture or their WordPress Slack photo. And for this introvert, it was a great time. I learned a lot, and, more importantly, I found myself being inspired once again to create and build in the WordPress space.

It had been a long time since I’ve been able to say that.

All of the talks I attended were incredible, and I can say that I learned at least three things from each of them. And the people I met and connected with were awesome.

I spoke with too many people to name, but I specifically remember having a great conversation with Daniel Schutzsmith, Te’ron Bullock and David Yarde at the GoDaddy after party that really helped me look at what I do in a different light and to continue creating, building and, more importantly, learning. So thank you for that!

As Adam Warner said (or at least I think it was him), it was like coming home. And it was so true.

For so long I felt a part from the WordPress community throughout the whole pandemic. And each time there was a spat, no matter how big or small, I felt a little bit pushed away from the community for whatever reason.

But for the three days we were in San Diego as a community, I remembered all of the positives of the WP community. I remembered why I volunteered to help out with the Fort Worth WordPress meetup and those WordCamp DFWs — the reason I continue to work in the WordPress space.

It truly felt like being home with family.

Leaving San Diego, however, was harder than I thought it would be that Monday morning.

In addition to the many friends I made during WordCamp US, I kind of really fell in love with the city of San Diego itself. It’s a great place (with the best baseball stadium in the country), and I can’t highly recommend it enough. I really did not want to come home.

But I did, as we all did. And while there have been ups and downs in the two-plus months since WordCamp DFW, I still remember that great time, and it helps keep me going.

So thank you, WordPress community, for a great time in San Diego and a great emotional boost. I can’t wait to see you again in 2023 in Washington, D.C.

Photo Gallery

I did spend about a day-and-a-half exploring San Diego before WordCamp US, going to a San Diego Padres game and checking out Balboa Park. Before I go, here’s a gallery of some of my favorite photos from the trip.

(You can expand each photo by clicking on it.)

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