I built my first ever website in 2003, and at the time, could not have been more proud of it. I have a copy of it saved away somewhere on my laptop, and I revisit it on odd occasions. But not to marvel at its brilliance – it’s quite the train wreck, take it from me. No, I do it to remind myself how much I have learned in the intervening time.
Like most people, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. I took the first job I found that paid enough to cover my bills, and followed the career path it took me on without ever having any sort of coherent plan.
I never studied to be a web designer, and don’t have any official bits of paper that call me one. It was just a hobby, something I that I found engrossing: I never would have guessed at the time that I’d end up self-employed and doing it full-time. And all these years later, I am still plagued regularly by crises of confidence.
For me, this job is a mental rollercoaster, with peaks of joy swiftly followed by dizzying troughs of fear. Here’s how it works…
Stage 1: new client requests a quote
Overwhelming feelings of self-doubt. Crushing Imposter Syndrome. Irrationally hope client rejects the quote and tries elsewhere. Consider taking down own website to stop any new enquiries coming in.
Stage 2: client gives the go-ahead
The nadir. Panic levels go off the chart. Sit and stare at a blank screen for hours. Make a start. Delete everything and start again. Coffee/Twitter break. Repeat. Imposter syndrome reaches near-fatal levels. Become a grand master procrastinator. Intense desire to be employed in any other line of work.
Stage 3: design comes together
Elation. Out of the wilderness and back in business. Have the best job ever. Confidence grows as the design evolves. Warm and fuzzy feeling at having brought something entirely new into the world.
Stage 4: submit design to client for approval
Overwhelming self-doubt returns. Have the worst job ever. Desire to tear down the whole internet so this monstrosity never sees the light of day. Consider moving house/disconnecting the phone to avoid getting the feedback.
Stage 5: client accepts design
Euphoria, vindication, relief on a monumental scale. Have the best job ever again. Can’t believe I get paid for having this much fun, it’s like cheating.
Stage 6: construction of site
Knuckle down and get on with it time. Fun, but fun with the odd dollop of frustrating thrown in too. Occasional hurling of insults at the laptop, even though it’s hardly its fault, the poor thing.
Stage 7: go-live!
Sudden panic at the realisation the site is now on view to the general public. You know those dreams when you look down and you’re naked? That. Fight urge to beg the client to let me take the site down despite them having literally just told me to put it up.
Calm down and feel a little silly about panicking given client seems happy. Resolve to not have a near breakdown next time (knowing full well it’s utterly inevitable).
(Whoever correctly guesses what stage I am at at the time of writing wins a free website *.
* Just kidding! D’you really think I’d go through that much stress for free?!)