Hello, everybody. Not sure why, but I feel like going all out with this introduction, so here it goes.
My name is John French (@johnfrenchxyz). I've been making websites ever since middle school, but never really branched out further than HTML and CSS, especially at first. Music was always my driving passion, but I also had a love for computers and technology, and couldn't really get enough of either. Like many "Newbies" here, I did not end up getting a CS degree in college, even though I thought about it, and even declared it for a little bit. In college I actually majored in Poetry and Creative Writing, which I thought would help my music career and help me to be a better lyricist. But the whole time I was always making websites for myself, my bands, or simple freelance work for other people. I loved that code could make words and colors appear in a beautiful way. I loved building a page that anyone in the world could find and then hear my music. I loved that it had such a direct power to reach people.
A lot of my best friends were also music and tech nerds, so we would play music and then try to install Linux on everything around us, or try to make display computers in the Apple store do funny things. But I still felt like music was supposed to be what I spent my life doing. I sing and write songs, play guitar, piano, and banjo. It has always been what came naturally to me, and I know that I will always love music.
But ultimately music did not provide a sustainable lifestyle for me. It may sound cliche, but touring left me really empty. Like soul-crushingly empty. But even worse, switching “careers” felt like defeat, so I bartended and played wedding gigs (which also can crush your soul) and did whatever I had to do to get by. It was kind of a sad time in my life, and I am sure many of you can relate to that existential angst of having no idea if the path you are on is even good for you, or if you will wake up in 40 years and realize you wasted everything. Or maybe even worse, if you are the creative-type and you intentionally put yourself through a difficult lifestyle for the sake of your art, only to find that you could have been even happier doing something else for a job and keeping your art as something you just loved to do. People opinion and perception of my music was starting to infect my identity in a really toxic way. I think it is very important to pour a little bit of your soul into what you do, but when you happiness starts to depend on the response to what you do… you can wind up with some serious existential angst pretty quick. It was a tough time.
Then I met the woman who would eventually be my wife. She was (and is) amazing. Completely amazing. We knew very quickly that we wanted to get married, but (even though some couples can make it work) I knew that I had to transition to a more personally fulfilling and healthy lifestyle in order to enjoy being married at all. When you hate the day job you have, you bring that home with you eventually. And bartending left me tired and fussy more often than not - not to mention how hard bartending can be on introverted people.
So I started applying for jobs. I knew I was good with computers, I had done the Geek Squad thing in high school and done some freelance web work over the years. I ended up getting hired to work for the local university as a front-end web designer. It was awesome. I loved it. I worked my ass off, and ended up where I am now, being the sole front end designer / UX designer for one of the colleges here.
I don’t know that I have ever been this excited about a life choice. Even though I am totally green as a developer, I already feel so much peace and happiness trying to move through new challenges or exercises or even problems at work. I love the mentality of “always be learning.”
So that’s the quick version of me. I am now really looking to find open source projects to contribute to, build my JS skills, get some of my own apps off the ground, but also connect with you guys and help you with your projects too! That is my favorite thing about this community is the ways we can come along side one another and help each other grow.
Thank you, Code Newbie. Thank you guys. I’m so glad I’m here.