Today’s the day I open up about my WordPress experience.
I’ve struggled whether it would be appropriate to share my experience and struggles in the WordPress community. A few people have encouraged me to open up. A few people have begged me to remain silent.
The cost versus benefit has been at the back of my mind for a couple years. I wanted to be honest but I also feared retribution. Damned if I do. Damned if I don’t. But I finally feel it’s time to open up.
The ride of a lifetime!
WordPress opened up a world I never expected.
I’ve worked with some of the best people in the industry. I helped create some of the most amazing products and training programs. I built friendships with incredible people around the world. WordPress provided me an extraordinary living for ten years. I’m truly thankful.
During this time I’ve been able to experience the highest of highs, but also the lowest of lows. As fun as a roller coaster ride can be, it was time to get off.
Why I “disappeared” from WordPress.
People have noticed my slow withdrawal from a community I was so actively involved in. Only a handful of people know the truth, but I feel that I owe an explanation to other friends and colleagues.
My goal isn’t to burn bridges or cause more #WPDrama. There’s already enough carnage here to last a lifetime. My purpose is to share a pain that is real and open up dialogue on how we can all be better humans.
WordPress as a community has a lot of dysfunction.
Most professionals in the marketplace already know this. They’ve observed it firsthand.
I’ve seen some of the worst in humans since starting in WordPress. Worse than any other corporate or military experience I’ve had. This doesn’t mean the dysfunction doesn’t exist in other industries. It’s just been more prevalent to me in WordPress.
Perhaps this dysfunction is attributed to the overall youthfulness of the community or that we mostly work remote or that there’s no true leadership because it’s open source. I don’t know the reason. It just is.
Bitterness, hatred, idolatry, bigotry, back-stabbing, egotism, alcoholism, envy, jealousy, and secret agendas are rampant. The closer you are to “The Community” the more you’ll see it and get hurt. It’s all very surreal.
It’s all quite maddening.
I don’t know why some of these things bother me they way they do. Friends have told me to ignore the noise or just focus on kicking ass. But when you’re connected to a world of people in an industry, it’s difficult to turn it all off.
Especially when you see wonderful friends compromising their values, their integrity, and their souls for acceptance or money or rockstar status. Or giving up all of their sensitive company information because people get them drunk and take advantage of it.
It pains me seeing people blindly following a dictating leader. I hate seeing people worship wolves in sheep’s clothing. I despise seeing the drama and the jealousy and the secret agendas.
I also loathe myself for being a participant in it all.
It’s not all them. It’s me too.
I’ve done my fair share of contributing to the #WPDrama or doing things I’m not proud of. I got wrapped up in the fantasy rockstar world and compromised my values to fit in and be recognized. It makes me absolutely sick to think how I handled situations in the past. I owe an apology to so many people.
My very real and dark secret.
It’s because of these situations and more that I found myself in a very dark place this year.
Between all of the painful moments adding up from my WordPress experience, and the fact that my business and non-profit have both failed, leaving me in a financial disaster, I wanted to end my life.
I won’t forget the moment I looked at my pistol and had that horrible thought.
It was the same week that Cory Miller shared his Iceberg Life presentation at Pressnomics. I was severely depressed and dealing with overwhelming anxiety. My failures in business were (and still are) excruciating. Life was unbearable because I was filled with hate, anger, bitterness, and envy.
It’s sobering to think that in a moment I could become so weak that the thought of suicide seemed like a better option. This is coming from a guy who doesn’t want to die ever! Thanks to Cory for listening to my story and getting me some professional help.
I’ve learned that my experience and feelings aren’t unique.
There are other people in WordPress who think, feel, struggle, and hurt the same. I’ve talked with them. Only the majority of these great folks fear that opening up will result in serious retribution. This is sad given that WordPress is supposed to be an accepting ideology.
The reality is that people cannot speak their hearts or their minds. It can cost them everything. People are scared and that needs to change!
Mental health is critical.
You have to take your life seriously. You need to place your mental and physical health at the top of your list. Regardless of how screwed up WordPress and the world is, people need you.
It’s also important to find true friends you can count on. You need a REAL community of people who are trusting, open, genuine, caring, and who will have each other’s backs. I didn’t have that before, but I’m creating one now. I invite others to contact me to join. It could be a lifesaver.
It also goes without saying that all of us should seek the help of professionals on a regular basis. Even with a great support network we still need the advice of licensed counselors or psychologists.
Finally, there will be times when you have to remove yourself from an industry or group of people to guard your health.
My loving and caring wife has begged me for two years to change my path. She has observed firsthand the highs and lows. And she’s right … it’s time to change.
It would be foolish to dismiss the good side of WordPress. It’s not all bad.
WordPress provided me a great living for years. The opportunities I’ve had are priceless. The platform is one of the best I’ve used for building and maintaining websites. And I will continue to use it as a business tool.
Some of the most amazing men and women I’ve ever known are involved in WordPress. You really can find people who are true friends and care about others.
Generosity is also a huge part of WordPress. There are companies and individuals who give their time, money, and resources towards helping others. Many helped Happy Joe launch.
WordPress as a career for me has run its course.
While I’m sincerely appreciative for all the friends who have invested in me over the years, I have to distance myself for peace of mind. I’ll still connect with certain people, but I want to do it in a way that doesn’t focus on WordPress.
I don’t know what I will do outside of WordPress. I’m scared as hell. But I believe I will be happier. The bad has finally outweighed the good and I can’t be consumed with it anymore.
I want to wrap up by giving a heartfelt apology to any person I have ever wronged or hurt in the community. I’ve tried to reach out to people personally and have had some success, but reaching everyone might not be possible. I am sorry for my part in any wrongdoing.
Hopefully this post and others will help people open up in honest conversations and the community will change for the best. It’s time it to make it happen.
Thank you for reading.