It’s taken me a while to sit down and write this. Mostly because I don’t really believe anyone truly cares. But I am writing it to be open about what I’m feeling and where I’m going. To offer an ability to remain connected with some of you. And on the off-chance that anything I have to say here makes you feel heard. (Note: there will be a lot of “I feel” sentences in this post. As much as I am going to try to keep things in check, this is an emotional thing for me to be writing.)

The title of this post is pretty dramatic, but it accurately reflects how I feel. It may seem overkill to you – so what, Allie’s done with WordPress? But it’s an enormous and emotional deal to me. Since 2015 I’ve had a relationship not only with this software but this community. WordPress has defined my professional life for the majority of my 20s. It’s opened doors, allowed me to travel, paid my bills, fueled my creativity and curiosity, connected me to new friends, and so much more. In turn, I have tried very hard to leave this community better than how I found it. I tried lots of different methods to accomplish that. Primarily in my DEI work and my creation of WordPress tutorial and educational content. I will say that those two things are my most powerful and hopefully longest lasting effects on WordPress.

But after an eight year relationship, I’ve decided that WordPress and I should just be friends.

I can’t sustain the emotional investment I’ve committed to making. Earlier in my career, I prioritized going online every day and checking Twitter for WordPress news, conversation, debate. At a certain point earlier this year, I could not spend five minutes on Twitter without getting angry, upset, and resentful at things happening in the community. That’s not to say worse things are happening now than before. But perhaps my eyes are open and I’m aware of them more now.

What happened?

A lot of you are awesome. A lot of you are awful. And I’m not even talking about the people who made me so uncomfortable and scared (two years in a row, might I add) that I abandoned my plans to attend WordCamp Europe. I’m not talking about the people who have harassed my friends and attacked my character.

Mostly I’m talking about the business owners who lie directly to their employees faces, underpay, over-work, and play so hard into the optics machine they forget what matters. The “gurus” on every testimonial page who hide behind cliques and platitudes and constant abuses of power. I’m talking about everyone who is happy to be silent and apathetic since they get what they need from WordPress and are not affected by the challenges that still need solving.

I feel like other people have taken up the work I hoped would get done. BlackPress. Support Inclusion in Tech. The WP Community Collective. In so many ways the community is a warmer and more people and solutions focused place than it was when I first stepped through the door. As much as I can spend my time volunteering toward those initiatives, I don’t think it’s arrogant for me to say I helped lay the groundwork for some of those things. It’s time for me to walk away. People will much more time and energy and money are running them much better than I could. And as you’ll see in a moment, I don’t feel wanted as a contributor to some of those spaces.

Most of the time I don’t feel like what I do or say matters. Here’s one example out of many. I worked really hard early this year on a project that I hoped would have a massive positive impact on the community. I intentionally walked away from my grass-roots advocacy (i.e. caring loudly on Twitter) for something more structured and focused. This project invaded my dreams, my personal conversations. It felt all encompassing and like something I was destined to do. When it came time to hit go, the project was ghosted and ignored. And now someone else is moving forward with that project. What matters is that good work gets done. I want to make that clear. But for whatever reason, I don’t get to be a part of that good work. I could fight for that privilege, but when you feel unwanted in a space it makes hard work a lot harder.

As things stand, I don’t feel like there is a professional future for me here. The way that the WordPress professional ecosystem is currently structured, there is not really upward mobility available for someone like me. At least not in such a way that I find secure and healthy. Every “better” opportunity I’ve received professionally within WordPress ended worse than the last. There is a huge disconnect between the people making the “real” money with this software and the people who are trying to earn a fair living.

At least in my experience so far, I’ve worked in so many spaces where people try to be”friends”… everyone wants to push a holistic and liberal approach to work because that’s what people want to hear. But the professional respect is lacking. So many of the WordPress companies and individuals I’ve worked with operate so selfishly under a guise of selflessness. I’ve been hired purely for my name and Twitter following. I’ve been fired based on my mental health struggles. My time has been blatantly wasted and disregarded. My character has been attacked when I ask for what I deserve. I’ve seen money funneled into retreats and networking events and CEO’s pockets while employees are fired when the money runs out. I’ve seen my coworkers ganged up on, gaslit, ignored, and emotionally abused. And these are just the smaller companies. When I’ve gone to much larger, older, more established companies looking for work… I’ve been met inflexibility, massive amounts of unprofessionalism, and blatant disrespect for my time, energy, and skills.

(Note: I’ve worked with/for a good handful of WordPress companies. The above does not count for them all. Many have been great. But not enough. Not enough for me to really trust seeking out a role at another WordPress company again.)

Where’s the love?

It sounds a lot like I’m complaining. And I am. I feel like I’m in this abusive relationship, where WordPress keeps reminding me how much it’s done for me. Man, Allie, remember how fun the events are? Remember how good it feels to contribute toward something larger than yourself? I do. But WordPress also keeps kicking my ass, over and over. I can love the trees, but I can’t love the forest anymore.

What’s next for me?

Because I’m not 100% sure what comes next, and I don’t want to lose something I worked hard to build, I have not deleted my Twitter (@allie_nimmons). But I don’t use it or check it anymore. I follow WordPress news and updates only in so far as it’s necessary for my work.

What is that work? I’m still working on Underrepresented in Tech with Michelle Frechette because that project is still powerful and can remain agnostic. It focuses on doing good in tech overall, not just WordPress.

I will be speaking at WordPress Accessibility Day this month, but I have no intention of speaking at or attending any other WordPress events – in person or virtually – for the foreseeable future.

My LinkedIn courses will take up my primary focus. Which I love because I can still maintain a relationship with WordPress by teaching it to others but without all the toxicity of the community. I’ve even started a WordPress newsletter on LinkedIn through which I can share even more with my audience but not on a personal level. (It’s called WordPress Stuff. I’m so witty, I know.)

I’m pursuing additional independent education and training in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging including classes, courses, and certifications. My hope is to find full-time work at a tech company for which I can provide DEI consulting, advisement, management, and planning on an internal basis.

And on a kind of fun note, I’m pursuing my dream of being a voice over actor for the entertainment industry. Which allows me to cycle back to my performance training and maintain a creative outlet.

What about you?

There are quite a lot of people in this community who I care very much about. I’m eager to see you continue to succeed in whatever it is you’re done. And I hope I don’t vanish entirely from your sphere of influence if you’ve found me a positive part of your life. LinkedIn and any of the UIT channels are the probably the most reliable ways to connect with me right now. I hope we can stay in touch.