When I was planning this tattoo, people asked why I would get a logo permanently tattooed on me.  Mainly because WordPress likely won’t exist, or I may not be into it forever.  I realize that, and that’s okay.  My response is simple:

Simply put, WordPress (and the community surrounding it) changed my life.  It taught me that I can do anything.  I can create anything.  I can be anything.  The connections I have made within the WordPress community far surpass most others in my life; both on a professional and personal level.  I have met some of my best friends through WordPress.

WordPress won’t last forever, and I’m okay with that

To think that WordPress will always be the dominant platform, or even last forever is just silly.  The times will change, people will move on.  But in the end, WordPress will still be a part of us.  When we’re old and all information is just beamed into our brains, we’ll still remember how WordPress shaped our lives.

WordPress is more than a platform

WordPress is a way of life.  We live it, we breathe it.  It will always be a part of us.

The WordPress community is something that varies from most other communities in that it is accepting of anyone; regardless of their skill level, monetary status, race, gender, sexual orientation, or preferred brand of pizza.  Time after time I’ve seen someone cared for by another as if they had grown up together.  WordPress is the family and friends that I didn’t have growing up.

What WordPress means to me

The WordPress community helped me believe in myself.  It showed me that I can do anything, and to never be ashamed that I know less than someone else on a particular topic.

Lifelong friendships have been forged with people hundreds of miles away.  It has shown me that nothing but the strength of your character really matters in the end.  I feel more accepted within the WordPress community than I ever have, and that’s something that can never be taken from me.

I got a WordPress tattoo because WordPress changed my life.

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the business-focused WordPress event, PressNomics.  If you’re not familiar with PressNomics, let me fill you in:

PressNomics is more than just a conference.  Things happen there.  Deals are made, partnerships are formed, and even acquisitions occur.  Picture PressNomics as the event for the badasses in the WordPress community.  Shit goes down.

In the middle of all of this, here’s me.  I’m the nerd with the thick glasses, overgrown beard, and a hoodie; the guy who lives in a rather small apartment, drives a Kia, and shops at outlet malls.  To put it simply, I’m your typical every-day middle-class 20-something guy.  Certainly not the typically targeted clientele for such a high level business-centric conference.

Or so I thought…

When I arrived at on first day of PressNomics, I went through the typical routine.  Find a bottle of water, snack on something, and float around a bit looking for familiar faces.  I’m a usually rather introverted person.  While I’m certainly not the quiet guy stuck in a corner, it still takes me some time to warm up to people.

I decided to step outside to the courtyard to smoke a cigarette.  Upon doing so, I was greeted by a familiar face that I not only recognized, but also looked up to.  Someone who is an incredibly developer and superb business owner.  Someone who can develop such a great product that they can make a wildly successful business out of it.

That person was Pippin Williamson.  While we had never previously met in person, he was able to greet me by name, and ask what sort of projects I’m working on.  Someone who I see as far more successful than myself is chatting with me as a peer.  I don’t have a wildly successful business.  I’m not a rockstar developer.  I’m just that nerdy guy in a hoodie who likes to write code and has a talent for explaining things within documentation.

It didn’t stop there

Throughout the day, I was greeted by incredibly talented business owners and developers whom I see as being further up the ladder than myself.  For some reason, they wanted to greet me directly, and were genuinely interested in my life and career.  I was being sought out.  I was being specifically targeted in certain circles and directly approached by name from people I have not previously had the pleasure of meeting in person.

Why would people take time out of their day to talk to me?  Why would they put me above others that could prove more benefit to them?  What in the fuck made me deserve to be treated as a peer when I’m just a guy who writes documentation.

Then it hit me

I simply don’t give myself enough credit.  I’m damn good at what I do.  I take leaps and bounds every day to further myself.  I’m not just the nerdy guy in the hoodie.

I’m Jeff-motherfucking-Matson and I know my shit

I have a plugin with over 20,000 active users.

I’ve contributed code to WordPress core.

I work for one of the top WordPress products on the market.

I’m damn good at what I do.

If you’re like me, and surround yourself with successful people, it’s easy to feel like you’re lagging behind.  During those times when you may feel inadequate, recognize where you truly stand in the eyes of others.  They may give you much more credit than you give yourself.

It’s easy to see them ahead, but harder to see the gap closing in.  Every day, I work to close that gap.  Progress means more than momentary comparisons.

Look ahead and track backwards.  In a race of millions, folks may always be ahead of you, but keep closing the gap and passing others.  Eventually, you’ll get where you want to be; and once there, push harder.

“Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself”

Mary Schmich