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What On Earth Am I Worrying About?

I have a lot of fear. Paralyzing fear. Fear of finishing. Fear of starting. Fear of fucking up. Because of this, I tend to live by extreme ultimata and push boundaries of what is acceptable. That can produce tension between clients or school and I. Or even me, myself and I.

So what’s worrying me right now?

I’m currently working on a final project for this semester of grad school at Parsons MFA Design + Technology where I’m having to learn a completely new kind of technology to accomplish my larger goal. I’m designing and developing a site for the closely knit Brooklyn urban homesteader community to use as a a central repository for all of its home-based events. Those events could be Kate Payne’s Stich n’ Mend Party where people finally learn basic sewing skills to a composting or a bike repair workshop. Right now, one would have to be on Twitter, Facebook or blogs 15 hour a day just to keep up with all the good things happening. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time for that mess. The site would allow people to post their own events or ones they know about so it’s all in one place to check and that’s it.

It’s a medium – large project that I’m building out in phases. A key issue here is that I’m using the Drupal CMS platform for the first time in my life ever in order to do this. Even though I deal in web and tech, I at times suffer from low self-esteem and fear of it. You see, in high school, I sucked at math even though I loved it. To this day, it still amazes me that I made it all the way up to Pre-Calculus in high school. This is where one has to be thankful for nurturing and supporting teachers who push you to do your best.

My Drupal teachers/mentors right now are two amazing and wonderful women designers/developers named Jen Simmons and Dani Nordin. Dani introduced me to the concept of Drupal and reasons to use it over WordPress in some cases. Jen actually convinced me of the platform’s merits and pushed me off the gangplank into a sea of Drupal, but with a life preserver tied about my waist. Both Wonder Women™ have answered all my questions with a patience and respect for a new fearful user. Jen especially has been instrumental by holding my hand simply because she also lives in Brooklyn like me and we can ping each other in person more easily.

I owe so much to their patience and instruction that it’s Hallmark commercial-inducing. But we would rather just drink to it instead. That’s how we ladies roll. A huge thank you to you both and drinks on me next time.

So, what’s all this blathering about?

Anyway, I’m moving ahead in a the project and during a Drupal tutorial sprint yesterday, it hit me that it’s not so hard to learn. I’m working off Lullabot’s tutorials and I highly recommend them to anyone who’s ready to take on Drupal. They were on mega sale a few months ago and I picked up several packages all together for about $380. Money well spent x infinity.

I’m not sure where I should be in the project status due to paralyzing fear but I’m nowhere nearly as bad off as initially thought yesterday. So far I’ve done some sets of paper wireframes as pictured below and I’ve built the core Drupal site and it’s running off my laptop.

But, because of Drupal’s site/page building methodology, it’s actually better to lay elements out in Drupal backend first to see what’s possible before really designing an interface (thanks for the heads up on that one, Jen). Oh, and can I just say that there’s a Drupal module for just about everything? Except for the one thing I need which is integration with Eventbrite. Meh. For now, I’m using Eventbrite’s Ticket Widget as a workaround. Next step (for today) is designing the branding system with colors, fonts and doing a couple of home page design mockups. This should be a fulfilling day. Afterward, I’ll work on integrating the GMap module to embed Google Maps for each event and to attach to a Google Map to each user. APIs, here I come!

A year ago, I would have run away screaming from APIs, CMSes, PHP and anything that obnoxious geeky boys would normally do. I still worry about and fear this stuff but it’s getting better little by little (poco a poco as my mum used to say). Another fear of mine is a fear of heights. Every time I’m in a high place or a rooftop, I deliberately look over the side to test myself and dampen the fear a little bit each time. It’s working so far.

So, what’s worry or paralyzing you lately? Please share in the comments below. I’m sure others can relate and would like to hear your story. Thanks for listening to mine.

7 Comments

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  1. Kerri says:

    I completely understand the fear. I’ve only been freelancing for about a year now, and I quite often get requests for something I’ve never done before. I consider myself a pretty quick learner, but every time I say, “Sure, I can do that!” I go back to my office and the panic sets in. Well, I’ve never had to go back to a client and say, “Sorry, I couldn’t do that.” It’s always a push, though, and sometimes “paralyzing”, like you say. I tend to avoid and avoid until I’m down to the wire.

    The funny thing about Drupal for me was that I learned it before WordPress. But I sort of just stuck to theming it myself and relying on modules. Then I learned to build a WordPress site from the ground up, and suddenly the templating side of Drupal made so much more sense to me. They work through different functions, but the basic architecture and methods are very similar. And, yeah, you can do so much more with Drupal.

  2. Tricia says: (Author)

    I am so glad it’s not just me. Saying “Sure, I can do that!” immediately is great for forcing to learn new stuff but it’s sometimes a recipe for disaster. Or at least adjusted expectations. I think we Wonder Women™ sometimes take on way too much and need to realize we’re human at times.

  3. Dani Nordin says:

    Thanks for the awesome shout-out! I totally get the fear, and as I wwas mentioning to a few folks at Drupalcon this week, it seems like everyone – designers especially – cries through their first three Drupal sites. But you do gain comfort with it over time, and the beauty of a framework like this that’s constantly evolving is that there’s always something new to learn.

    Skoal!

  4. jenn says:

    this is exactly what i worry about. coding at any level. (funnily enough, i was great at math, but somehow that doesn’t translate to computer skills.) i work fine in a WYSIWYG environment, which is why i can use dreamweaver, as outdated as it is becoming. getting into modules and installs and well, anything code-y, scares the bejeebus out of me. frankly, i’m also afraid of my lack of knowledge of the lingo. it’s so insider-y and keeps me from delving deeper. your post, however, is inspiring! it’s always great to look back and see how far you’ve come. it’s high time i devote some space to diving in, jumping off, getting pushed into this arena. thanks for sharing!

  5. Tricia says: (Author)

    @Dani, you’re so very welcome for the shout out. Your help has been enormous during this process. We need to sit and dish about how good DrupalCon was. I’m considering attending next year depending on when it is (next year is all thesis for me. ack!).

    @Jenn, it can be really tough to get back on the tech wagon, but taking classes will definitely help you out. You don’t have to go all out balls to wall PHP/JSON/YOMOMMA, but at least keepign up with HTML 5/CSS 3 will do wonders and then you pass all the other work over to collaborators. You’re in SF, right? There are tons of art schools that teach continuing ed web design courses. Or heck..you can just come to NYC for the summer and take a class. HINT. HINT. Heh!

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