It’s a thrill to look back at year-old work. After the grimace, I feel a twinge of pride. As a web designer with an appetite to grow, I’ve come a long way in a short time. I’ll bet you have too.
It’s hard to see progress down at the ground level, though. Progress usually feels a lot more like a slog than progress. Working in tech is exhausting. Sometimes I dream about selling my computer and opening a cash-only donut shop.
There’s one thing that has always pulled me forward: it’s the people.
If I look closer at the the times I’ve felt like giving up, it’s always the good people that surround me who have pushed me to stay the course. I don’t usually stay down for long. I get back up because of someone inspiring.
This is why I’ve never been able to truly quit Twitter or stop reading blogs or going to conferences. I’ve been through the phase where I delete the social apps from my phone or vow to check them once a week. I always find I get sad. I miss the people. I get lonely.
So this one’s for you: the people of the internet. Your gifs make me laugh. Your rants give me pause. Your selfies make me smile. Your tutorials make me smart. Your kid pictures make me realize you’re normal like me. Your opinions make me angry. Your work ethic energizes me.
Some of you are my teachers, and you don’t even know it. I’ve picked a few of you out, and I want to be like you. It’s the only way I know to get anywhere in this work: by pretending I’m like you long enough that I actually become like you.
Some of you are on my list that I call my board of directors. I study your work. I try to copy the way you program. I try to whittle down my words to achieve an effortless glide when I write—just like you. I use your color palettes, I swipe your typography patterns, and I share your links with my friends. I ask myself in difficult decisions and everyday choices: how would my board of directors counsel me?
Without a lively community of people surrounding me in this industry, I might still be here doing this work. Or maybe I wouldn’t. Maybe that donut shop would be booming. But I’m sure of one thing—I wouldn’t love my work the way I do if it weren’t for you. I wouldn’t feel a sense of belonging to something larger than myself. And I certainly wouldn’t have this thriving culture to pass along to the next generation of tech workers.