'why'd you make this site?', 'how did you start coding?', and other questions

March 17, 2023

my 26th birthday was earlier this month.

once you reach a certain age, the birthday wishes can take on an anxious “what-are-you-doing-with-your-life” cadence. i’m single, i’m not gainfully employed, and i dropped the MLIS pipe dream when i was forced to accept that i don’t have $15k laying around. so i can understand a thinly veiled concern text from people who believe success is marked by homeownership and cars.

but in the midst of the furrowed brows and loaded questions about my life, i just kept thinking, “damn, i never made that neocities.”

making a neocities has been a “thing i’ll do when my skills are good enough” for years now. truthfully, i’m still not comfortable with my skill level, and i don’t know if i ever will be. but on my 26th birthday, i was sitting there, sadly twirling my complimentary birthday joint, reflecting on my neocities-lessness.

i, like many other neocities users, got started with front-end coding by fiddling with tumblr themes. (well, technically, i first messed with HTML as an elementary schooler trying to get mcr teenagers to autoplay on my sasunaru themed neopets page, but i really started learning with tumblr.) i was (am) a bit (a lot) of a control freak, and i liked the control i was given over my own space, especially on an internet that was growing increasingly homogenous and bland.

i’ve come a long way since i was a teenager meticulously decorating my blog with danganronpa renders and misusing css combinators, but i’ve adamantly maintained that it’s valuable to stake your space online and loudly voice your displeasure with corporate internet interests. i’ve invested literally hundreds of hours into understanding the ins and outs of static site generators and css frameworks. i’ve spent months banging my head against walls, posting on stackoverflow, and scouring docs, all in service of making things look and behave the way i want them to. (and specifically for the cicada website, which i have now coded from the ground-up four different times. it is even more painful than you think.)

the effort has paid off in some pretty big ways. this website has taken me a fraction of the time it would’ve a few years ago. i look at old code and cringe, but i know how i’d rewrite it now. i inch towards becoming more secure in my knowledge base every time i open a code editor. but my perfectionism can be debilitating and chasing some mythical “good enough” standard has ultimately been destructive for my creativity (and overall happiness).

anyways, i realized a few things as the smoke (literally) cleared. first, i needed to make a neocities. not eventually. right now! it might be a mess, but it’d be my mess, and i need to learn to let things be in-progress. second, i wanted to help other people make their own sites, and hopefully mitigate a bit of the head-banging inherent in coding. that is more important to me than impressing people who think money measures your worth.

so for me, this site also functions as a bit of resistance. resistance against the idea that efficiency is inherently more important than creativity, resistance against the idea that hobbies are a waste of time unless you can turn a profit, and resistance against the notion that everything must be polished and perfect and professional all the time.

i want to use this blog specifically to post helpful guides (once i get the rest of the site coded, that is…) and help make HTML/CSS more accessible to people with zero formal exposure. i also want this site as a whole to be proof that even a certified tumblrina faildaughter can contribute to communities, even in small ways. if even one person lifts a chunk of code off this site, i’ll take it as a win.

so, in lieu of doing a normal adult activity to mark the milestone of being closer to 30 than 20, i have spent the last week huddled over my laptop trying to make this site work. and honestly, i feel pretty good about it. i even feel good about how long this blog post is.

all this to say: nice to meet you! do not give in! consider making a website! talk to you soon!

Comment Form is loading comments...