#TBT: The Lost Girl turned Web Designer

So I’d been scratching my head all day trying to figure out what to do for #TBT. And then I started thinking about a summer 7 years ago that ended up defining what I would choose for a career.

It was 2009 and I was merely 13 years old and had just finished 7th grade (which is second year middle school here in NoVa). I’d had a tough year. The friends that I thought were there to stay were moving on. A boy I had crush on, whom I thought was my friend, had lied to me in order to get me off his back. And with an incompetent mother, my teenage years were hitting me like a ton of bricks and there was no one (I thought) to ease the pain.

That summer was definitely difficult because I didn’t have a lot of friends, I was stuck trying to get over the boy who hurt me, and my dad had a job to do. So I was often stuck in the house alone with my younger brother.

So naturally, as an introvert might do, I ran to books. Warriors by Erin Hunter to be exact. After reading the first book, I was hooked and I was ready to decorate my room with Warrior cat pictures and quotes. So when I asked Google where to find these things, it brought me here. I was fascinated with the design as it obviously wasn’t made from a template. That’s when I learned about HTML.

Soon, I opened my own Warriors fansite and it wasn’t long before I became confident enough to convert my fansite to HTML. I was constantly reading about CSS and HTML, looking at the source code for other fansites so I could learn as much as I can about web design and spending countless hours on my computer.

My younger brother started to refer to my web designing activities as my “job”. It got him mad sometimes because I spent more time on the computer than doing other things like going to the pool.

Anyway, my web designing progressed long after the summer ended and soon I wanted more than just a fansite. I wanted a site where I could talk about my life and people would listen. So my faniste turned into a blog. And not long after that I was ready to run my very own domain. So I got my incompetent mom to purchase fieldofdaydreams.net. It was hosted none other than the fantastic Georgie. She was a great host and great person to go to when it came to questions. I was inspired by her site which runs off WordPress. And soon, I became confident enough to build my own themes. And I was doing things in my early teens that my classmates could only dream of.

Unfortunately, being the ignorant computer user that I was, I allowed my computer to get infected with viruses. Web designing also affected my relationships in the outside world so it was soon time for me close my site. By the time I entered high school, my presence on the internet had disappeared almost completely.

But my love and fascination for computers and technology never went away. I continued to have an interest in computers throughout high school, taking classes like Word Processing, and Design, Multimedia, and Web Technologies. And I excelled in all of them.

When I got to college, I started my freshman year with an undecided major, torn between my fascination of technology and my desire to help others. Later I declared my major in Social Work, where I intended to become a guidance counselor so I could help other troubled adolescents. With my affinity for technology, I started to look at information technology minors. And last summer, I continued to research my options.

One night, my family and I were in the car and we started a conversation on smartphones. I started to list the differences between the Samsung Galaxy and the Apple iPhone. And my dad and brother started to lecture me to change my major because it was obvious that I had a passion for computers and electronics. So later that summer, I changed my major to Information Science and Systems with a concentration in Web Development because of my history with web design.

It recently occurred to me that much of the lessons my professors tried to teach me in class were lessons that I’d already practiced as a young teen. For example, one of the lessons I was taught was to test early and test often. I had somewhat of hard time doing this when it came to learning the programming language Java. But when I started to build an HTML layout, I realized that I already know the skill. Because whenever I would make changes to the code, I would refresh my browser to make sure that it worked right.

It’s crazy to think that something I did out of sheer boredom 7 years ago would impact me today and shape me into the person I am.

And I look forward to once again own a domain so that I can have the flexibility and continue to learn and grow as a web developer.