When I am being complimentary toward myself, I like to say that I am capable of mastering any skill, overcoming any obstacle, comprehending everything. This boastful attitude normally overtakes me in the wee hours of the morning, when I am half-drunk off a lack of sleep and therefore invincible. In more realistic periods, however, I will admit my limitations: I will always hate broccoli; I am sort of terrible at digital art; I cannot code.
I cannot code.
Out of all my shortcomings—vegetable and non-vegetable related—the fact that I cannot code is making me the most anxious right now. If I could code, I could build my web presence almost entirely independently!* I could have an amazing website that displayed beautifully on all platforms and browsers! I would get noticed almost instantly! Have a great freelance career through grad school! Drown in job offers before my dissertation is completed!
Without thinking about my coding illiteracy, I dove into building my brand this weekend. After starting up TED Talks Lifehacks on Netflix, I set to work cleaning up my online presence. First, and most time-consuming: Twitter. Admittedly, my existing account was barely used. However, I had engaged in some non-professional—and NSFW—flame wars, which I would personally like to forget ever happened. I deactivated the account and its associated email address, and created my first professional Twitter account.
The second episode of Lifehacks was on at that point, so I did a bit of research on Jane McGonigal. As both a geek and a feminist, I was excited to listen to a woman promoting the positive aspects of gaming, including using video games as life-enrichment tools. It didn’t hurt that I had been brainstorming how to land a job writing narrative or dialogue for a respectable game development studio. I joined McGonigal’s video game creation hub, Gameful; although it doesn’t have as much traffic as I had expected, I’m still holding out hope that my presence on the site will provide a few networking opportunities at the very least.
Next, I updated my LinkedIn profile—and made a connection—wrote a fantastic resume, and applied for a volunteer opportunity. I was on a roll. In the words of Freddie Mercury, “Don’t Stop Me Now.” I uploaded a new portrait photo and made plans to have a few professional headshots taken. I sent out feelers on LinkedIn, read articles for career development, tried to find resources for burgeoning freelance writers.
Then I was looking it in the face. I gulped. WordPress. I had the page and some vague concept of what to do with it: get a domain, get a host, wave a magic wand and poof! Instant website. Just to be sure, though, I double checked.
I shouldn’t have.
It was awful.
I took a moment to calm down. It was okay. I was okay. What about that little skill I just wrote on my resume a few hours ago? That I was always willing to “ask for assistance or guidance without delay?” Yeah, what about that?
But you don’t have any money to pay a web designer. I’m not listening to you.
*Except for the 56,000 employees at Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Do you lack a skill that you desperately need? Commiserate with me in the comments!