From WordPress To Emma

Pull Quote: WordPress taught me to write, it taught me to code, it taught me to express myself.

Here is Emma reading her own story aloud.

Pre Emma 

My parents are both into tech. My dad – a Computer Engineer, and my mum – a Semiconductor Engineer, met in the ’80s in Silicon Valley. The romance that started between them eventually led to me, a techy kid who loved doodling on the walls just as much as building computers with her dad.

Kid Emma

I can remember Y2K, the Covid of its time in the tech world. My dad and his colleagues were at all the server rooms “just in case”, and we celebrated at a Korean Baptist Church “just in case.”

I remember the first AOL trial CD – with 30 whole minutes of “FREE” internet, my first IM (instant messenger) username (snugglebunny – I know, I know), free calls after 9 pm, and putting the phone to your ear only to hear a blasting of eeee-oahhh–eeee–uuuuu that told you the internet was on. 

I also remember when our one family computer turned into three personal ones—no more having to wait your turn. Technology was changing.

Now you could use your home phone and the internet at the same time, and videos went from a 2-day loading speed to 2 hours.

By the time I was in university, we all had the internet in our pockets. I had a laptop that was way too heavy for its size, BUT my dad’s work computer screen still looked like the matrix. 

Uni Emma 

My first WordPress interaction happened when I was in university studying Marketing and Strategic Communications. I started a blog about working as a barista for Starbucks. I was learning HTML5/CSS (yeah, way back then), practicing the basics of the technical side but also enjoying the creativity of designing what my “readers” would see, such as fonts, colors, and layout. I was really putting my newfound knowledge to the test.

I didn’t know it just yet, but I was starting to connect my love for creativity with the tech world.

The days were filled with tweaking code, and the nights were filled with stories. Stories of customers, fellow baristas, and observations watched from afar. The regulars, the missed connections, the extraordinary amount of times someone missed the toilet when they were trying to poo. But that didn’t last long; I got my degree, and life went forward, but my blog stayed behind. 

Twenties Emma 

The next time WP made an appearance in my journey was when I started a blog about being a teacher in South Korea. Stories of coffee as the common denominator turned into the tall tales of a not-so-Korean Korean living in a world that she didn’t know much about. The students and teaching were one thing; the community of expats was quite another. Spending time with such a varied group of weirdos was how I realized there is more to life than a 9 to 5. We shared our stories about how we each got there.

Ex-military, farmers, film-extras, photographers, journalists, developers, semi-pro footballers, each sharing where they were from and how they got to where they are now. 

With each closed door, another opens, and sometimes more doors than you can imagine. My blog didn’t last long. But the way of life (traveling and meeting interesting strangers) has lasted till now.

Present Emma

Fast forward to now-ish. 

I’m the Head of Content at Hostinger.

I decided to return to school for Computer Engineering and Cyber Security, so I moved to Lithuania. The goal was to get another degree and a visa to the EU, but instead, I found Hostinger, the perfect sweet spot for tech + marketing. Fast forward through COVID, through my graduation, and re-enter WordPress. I didn’t actually think “work” could get much better until the WP Community was introduced into my life.

I found out then that all those things my dad used to say about “finding a job that doesn’t feel like work” are actually true.  

I’m talking about waking up excited to see what work throws at you, what fires you can put out, what changes you can implement. What can you do today that can make it better than yesterday? That’s when work doesn’t feel like work. That’s when you know you’ve got it good. 

Anyways, 

I joined the WP Slack community, where I was amazed by the number of people, the friendliness, and the amount of information. I had major FOMO for not having had this as a constant in my life until now.

Enter a new team: Documentation. Now they had their priorities straight. Documentation, words, content, and CONSISTENCY– who knew there was a world of Emma’s out there? Not to mention, it was a collective group of people who were there because they wanted to be there, not because they were told. We all had a common goal. Content may be King, but Consistency is Queen.

Then came WordCamp Asia 2023. Hellooo, Korean baby Jesus! It was like being thrown into a sea of open doors. Everyone was kind, welcoming, intelligent, silly, happy, joyful… insert 1000 more adjectives here. AND the best part is, everyone is a WordPress nerd and loves to just talk about WP. Was I in WP heaven?

I found a place where I could be unapologetically me. Genuine Emma. Not one of the many Emma’s in the world, but this Emma. Me.

Since then, even more doors have opened. I volunteered as an MC. I wanted to see if I could make these stage fright butterflies into something more. I’ve spoken at events and presented at work, but WordCamp was a whole other level. The acceptance, the kudos, and the ease of knowing that everyone was rooting for me to succeed was a breath of fresh air. I took these teachings, experiences, and skils back to Hostinger and it changed the way I led my team and looked at projects, issues, etc. 

So here we are. Volunteering for my 3rd flagship, looking back at my life full of twists and turns with WordPress as my mile markers. I didn’t always realize that it has been a constant in my life. It taught me to write, it taught me to code, it taught me to express myself. It taught me that everyone has a place in WP and all are welcome.

Bonus: 

While revisiting my WordPress journey, I stumbled upon an old post; even though I had to make a few updates to it, it’s a nice TL;DR. 

Poet Emma

There once was a girl
Who had more than a skip-and-hop in her step
Dancing along a string of lights

One day she noticed – in the sea of her peers
To the left were wide eyes and skin as pure as snow
To the right was darker skin and hair long, silky, with flow

Her eyes were not as blue as the 7 seas and crystal waters
Her eyes were not brown tree rings filled with stories passed down and reincarnated 
Her eyes told a different story
From her white ancestors– a victory ring protecting what was to come 
With a starburst of wildflowers shining through the heart 
With speckles of green, and blue, and brown
She had a little bit of everyone
But it didn’t turn her frown upside down 

Some of her friends turned red like a tomato
Under the hot desert sun
While others began to glow a beautiful brown
But hid in the shadows till it was gone
Her skin did a combo
Not red nor brown, 
Olivey yellow
And added a milky way of stars dusted across her nose 

Her friends packed brown paper bags and Superman lunch boxes 
Filled with tortillas or crustless sandwiches
Hers had rice, kim, and a yogortut
No one wanted to trade 

Straight A’s were a must!
If not, you were grounded
She thought this was the same for all the kids
But she was wrong 

Fast forward 20 years
Her eyes have seen the world 
Dipped her toes in the 5000 islands
Scaled waterfalls after riding her bike up a mountain 
Jumped from a plane over sand, water, and snow
Tickled her taste buds from bugs to Van Gogh 

Her eyes have not changed
But other have
She no longer is the girl who gets the question, why are her eyes like that?
But she is now the girl who gets the question, how do I get eyes like that? 

She no longer longs for her freckles to be gone
But now appreciates them as they come, and miss them when they’re gone
She no longer wonders why studying was an important loop
But now she is always ahead and has a stronger work ethic

She still wonders
She still looks with her eyes
The same eyes that were once filled with confusion and doubt
But now her eyes embrace it 
And are ready for the next route

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