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Carole Olinger

On Health, WordPress and a Tough Decision

Earlier this year, I had to take a tough decision.

It took me quite a while and I had to do a lot of introspective work but I have decided to stop my activities as a WordPress Community Manager for Plesk, a job that I’ve always been doing with a lot of passion and joy. My contract ended on March 31st.

Also, I will refrain from all contributio ns inside the WordPress project, as I have started to do already in the past few months.

And here are the two main reasons why:

Physical and mental health

As a few of you might already know because I happen to be very open about some health issues I have to deal with, I suffer from lipedema. If you like, you can read more about my personal lipedema story here.

After having been through three surgeries in 2016 and 2017, I had almost two painless years. Unfortunately, the disease stroke back a few months ago: I have to deal with water retentions and constant pain again. Wearing a tight compression garment has become inevitable, same as lymphatic drainage two to three times a week. Two more surgeries got planned for 2019. I will probably have to fight in court once more for my therapy.

Having to deal with the disease, its therapy and the fight in court, unfortunately, takes a hell of a lot of time and energy.

 

Deeply connected to my personal lipedema story is another chronic disease I have to deal with, a dark companion, who is an undeniable part of my life, who disappears occasionally only to strike back with more force than before: depression.

After having had some wonderful healthy years, the worst depression I ever had to cope with hit me last year. In September 2018, I started to take medication, for the very first time in my life. I already had years of therapy, but I never felt like I wanted or needed to take medication. Again, it took me months to realize, that depression is nothing I had to feel ashamed for. If I had to deal with a different health disease, would I judge myself in the same way for having to take medication? Probably not. Depression is a widespread and horrible chronic disease and we all need to remove the stigma around it!

I had to admit to myself that I was not as tough and reliable as I might have liked to be, also not in my job. My resources are very limited when having to deal with depression.

I consider myself lucky to have found the help I need: a soft medication that works and a brilliant therapist. I also have a wonderful husband who supports and endures me.

I’m proud of myself for working hard to get better: I read self-help books, stick to my therapy plan, I am currently experimenting with Mindfulness-Based-Stress-Reduction (MBSR) techniques and I started to take good care of myself again by adapting my diet, trying to live an overall healthy lifestyle and finding out what my personal core values are.

All this takes a lot of energy and time but:

 

"There is nothing ever more important in life than your own health!"

 

It’s all about setting priorities and managing resources.

I truly think this is a very important period in my life. I also feel that I’m on a very good path right now and I’m really curious to find out where it is going to lead me.

The WordPress project and my inner conflict

 

Talking about my core values, there is another important pillar for my recent decision.

2018 was a tough year for me being involved in the organization of two different WordCamps: WordCamp Retreat Soltau and WordCamp Europe.

 

For WordCamp Retreat I was the only woman next to 10 male organizers which wasn’t an easy position. There were many differences of opinion and values even though I got and still get along very well with my colleagues in private. I worked harder than everyone else to make myself heard although it was hardly appreciated.

 

"The very first WordCamp Retreat was a huge success but the price I had to pay when it comes to my mental health definitely was not worth it."

 

As for WordCamp Europe, I was a volunteer emcee during WordCamp Europe 2017 and a proud co-organizer for 2018. During my first time experience as a member of the WCEU team, I truly had a great time. Nevertheless, I noticed that there are things that can be improved upon when it comes to diversity (which is about way more than just gender!) and inclusion inside and outside the organizer team. Also, people tend to reach out to me about worries or personal (negative) experiences in these areas. And I hear them.

 

"Diversity and inclusion are not coming naturally. They come from the inside and we all have to become proactive."

 

That’s why I suggested creating an Awareness team for 2019. I wrote a project pitch which got immediate awesome feedback: my ideas and suggestions were told to be mind-blowing and I got asked to become the team lead for this new Awareness team to be created within the upcoming organizer team for WCEU 2019. Also, I got told that there had already been conversations beforehand to involve me more into this kind of topics.

I applied online to become an organizer like every other interested person was supposed to. After nobody getting back to me and all my further requests being ignored for more than 10 weeks, I found out on Twitter that the new organizer team had already been set up - without me. Only three days later, in which I had a hard time to deal with the uncertainty, I got a standard rejection email. Of course, I insisted on an explanation for the unexpected rejection and revocation of the concessions already made towards me.

What I got told is that my passion and performances from the past two years were remarkable and exceptional but that it could make other people around me feel uncomfortable and that might make me not the best fit for a team.

I was shocked. I never ever got any negative feedback or constructive criticism in the two years I’ve been working with the other WCEU organizers.

What exactly does that mean? Stop being awesome to make others feel better about their own performance?

Also, I truly wonder if I would have been told the exact same reasons if I was not a woman but a man?

I got an apology for literally having been ignored for so many weeks with the explanation that this unacceptable behaviour was the result of a personal issue with dealing with potential conflicts of one specific person in charge.

Only later I found out my name was not even on the list of people who applied for the organizer team when the 2019 team leads picked their new team colleagues. Some people noticed this and asked about my application. They got told: “Carole is not going to be part of the organizing team this year”.

I informed several other organizers as well as the WCEU mentor about my situation. There was no follow-up until today. Fortunately, I found a lot of support within the WordPress community: I had a lot of inspiring conversations and I want to thank all the people who were there for me, from the bottom of my heart. You know who you are and I love you!

In the same context, I had to find out that my situation was not an isolated case.

All these happenings had put me in a really bad place, mental health wise. As I wrote earlier, I have a history with depressive episodes, but I am convinced what happened to me would have been hard to deal with for pretty much everyone. With my background, it became an almost insurmountable hurdle.

 

"I was clearly shown that my contribution to the WordPress project as an organizer for events is neither valued nor respected."

 

Even though I had a hard time to deal with what happened to me, I tried to make something positive out of the situation and to pass it on to the outside world. This is why I wrote the “Manifesto by a female open source contributor” and gave a talk at WordCamp Nijmegen with the title “Turn rejection into personal growth.”

When the new WCEU organizing team members got finally published, I was saddened to see that the Awareness team project had been completely cancelled and that the female ratio inside the team had dropped considerably, the exact opposite of what I would have tried to achieve. I found some consolation in the fact that some great people inside the organizing team were able to make a difference when it comes to the overall diversity of the speaker schedule.

I truly wish my situation would just have been an isolated case. But neither was I the only woman to be rejected or removed for very dubious reasons from the WCEU organizer team nor was I the only person whose contributions have been treated with a lack of respect inside the WordPress project in general: in the months following my rejection, other people got either eliminated or urged to resign from different projects on different levels. Others have been continuously ignored and their efforts belittled. Several people had to take a tough decision by stepping back from projects very close to their hearts for the sake of their own mental health.

In some cases, these were people I personally deeply care for, and it hurt me again.

I’d like to come back to my personal core values now. I can barely find the words to explain how much I think it’s wrong to put people’s mental health, partly knowingly, in severe danger.

 

"The lack of true leadership, its intransparent decisions and partly disrespectful behaviour towards contributors have become toxic in this open source project."

 

I don't have any problem with decisions that have to be taken, even if I might disagree, as long as there is transparency about who took this decision and why. I would also welcome a true leadership structure as long as there is a clear hierarchy, which should also be communicated to the community. To be fair, I had some pleasant conversations in the past few weeks, which give me hope that the situation might improve in the mid-term.

To me personally, at the moment, there are only three ways to cope with the current situation:

→ Accept it!

It just doesn’t seem right to me to continue to be an active part of a system in which my personal values are repeatedly violated and to pretend everything would be ok. Because it’s just not ok for me at all and there is no way I could accept it.

→ Change it!

I would love to contribute to a change and I tried to do that on a smaller scale. I got clearly thwarted.

At the moment, my resources are very limited for reasons I explained earlier and I have to focus on my health now. I will not burn out for an open source project but I hope my passion for the community and the inspiration I find here so often will empower me at a later stage to come back and to help to strive for a change.

→ Break out!

At the moment, I just I can’t be the all-time cheerful WordPress Community Ambassador for Plesk. I was earning good money and I was travelling the world with WordCamps. Believe me, when I say, it is very (very) hard for me to let go of all the advantages that are coming with this amazing job! I now feel I had to deal with this inner conflict for quite a long time before even being able to realize it was there. And It’s a very tough decision, for sure.

But I would not be the person I want to be if I just kept going like this. It's part of my inner healing process to find and to stand up for my own values. And this is why I speak up now and have to break out of the current situation, for the sake of my own health!

Again, all this is about the system, a system that I don’t want to be an active part of anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, I truly want to remain a part of the WordPress community, but definitely on a smaller scale.

 

"It’s because of the people that I initially joined the WordPress community and it’s the people that make me want to stay."

 

At the moment, I just don’t want to be professionally involved nor do I want to actively contribute to the project. And I’m pretty sure, that the people I do care for and who care for me, will be able to understand.

Thank you, Plesk!

Last but not least, I want to thank Plesk for always having been an amazing partner who treated me with respect, always valued my performance and services and gave me the freedom to decide what’s great for the company’s brand inside the WordPress ecosphere and what would benefit the community at the same time.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to find out what I’m really good at and what I enjoy most: becoming the enabler for creating win-win situations.

Thanks for the great collaboration with every single colleague I had the pleasure to interact with. I feel blessed that my last official working days have been at CloudFest, surrounded by most of the people I have been working with during the past two years. I had a blast during that week and I’m gonna miss you like hell!

Thanks for the crazy ride we had in the past two years; we travelled innumerable cities together and met amazing people from all over the world.

And thanks for the full understanding of my current situation and for giving me the opportunity to continue to work together whenever I might feel ready for it.

What’s next?

I will participate in the 64° NORTH 2019 trip, a digital detox adventure in Iceland in April. Yay!

I’m going to focus on my physical and mental health and I will continue to work on a healthy lifestyle. I will take good care of my two- and four-legged family, who particularly needs me at the moment on top of the two main reasons I just exposed.

And last but not least, I will be going on another introspective journey of self-discovery which I’m already looking forward to.

Meanwhile, I will probably attend a few WordCamps as a simple attendee to be around the people that have become very close to my heart and have always been a source of inspiration to me (hopefully vice-versa).

Sooner or later, I will find out if I want my personal and/or professional journey within the WordPress community to continue, or not.

And then, to be honest, I don’t know yet. But I'm looking forward to finding out what "Carole version 3.0" will be and I’m pretty sure it will feel great!

58 Comments

  1. Debbie Z on April 1, 2019 at 4:01 pm

    <3

    • Carole Olinger on April 2, 2019 at 7:13 am

      Love you, Debbie!

  2. Laura on April 1, 2019 at 4:56 pm

    Just for letting you know that I hope to see very soon, chatting about a lot of things, smiling and giving you all the hugs I’m sending you now in the virtual mode. You are a very special person and deserve all the best in the world: don’t ever forget it! ????????????

    • Carole Olinger on April 2, 2019 at 7:14 am

      Thanks, Laura! Looking forward to chatting with you in person! <3

  3. Jenny on April 1, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    ????

    • Carole Olinger on April 2, 2019 at 7:14 am

      :-*

  4. Heather Burns on April 1, 2019 at 5:04 pm

    I love you.

    • Carole Olinger on April 2, 2019 at 7:15 am

      Love you too! You’re amazing in so many ways! <3

  5. Jeroen on April 1, 2019 at 5:58 pm

    I knew this was coming since we talked about this before. It’s still very saddening to read all the struggles you’ve had to deal with. No-one deserves any disrespect. I’m very happy I got to know you better at each WordCamp we ran into each other. I have the utmost respect for your courage to write this down and how you’ve dealt with it.

    I wish you, Alain and the dogs all the best and hope to run into you again somewhere in the future.

    • Carole Olinger on April 2, 2019 at 7:16 am

      Thanks, Jeroen. I’m pretty sure we’re gonna meet soon. Also, you’re always welcome here, it’s not even a long distance. You’re an amazing person and I’m glad I got to know you through WP! <3

  6. Michele Butcher-Jones on April 1, 2019 at 6:48 pm

    I am going to miss seeing your smiling face but good luck in wherever the roads may take you.

    • Carole Olinger on April 2, 2019 at 7:16 am

      Thanks for your kind words, Michele! <3

  7. Yvette on April 1, 2019 at 6:55 pm

    First of all, hugs. Then more hugs. And then another hug. I totally understand your decision and I truly wish for you to find that upward spiral again soon. Ruthless self-care darling! You have been an example to many. Your willingness to stretch your comfort zone and invest in this community inspired many, including me. You did not deserve to be treated like that. But karma will deal with that later. Try to let go as much as you can, and focus on those truly dear to your heart! You’ll find other adventures on your path once you’re ready for them. Let me send you another hug!

    • Carole Olinger on April 2, 2019 at 7:18 am

      Lots of hugs arrived here this morning from the NL! Thanks, Yvette, I cherished every single one from you!
      I’m gonna be ok, like I always did. I feel like the hardest part was to take a decision.

      • Yvette on April 2, 2019 at 8:38 pm

        It is. Letting go is scary. The blessing of your years of active involvement in the WP community will be the friends you have made who love you for who YOU are. Focus on that. And on your dear hubby who near worships you. And on getting better! You CAN beat this again!

        • Carole Olinger on April 3, 2019 at 7:53 am

          Love you!

  8. Mike Little on April 1, 2019 at 7:17 pm

    Carole, I’m so sorry to hear everything that has gone on. It is heartbreaking to find out these kinds of things are going on. I genuinely thought the WordPress community was moving beyond this kind of thing.
    I’m so glad you have decided to prioritise your health above all. We are so much less to ourselves and our family without good health.
    I have loved the few times we have met and hope to meet again in the future.
    Look after yourself and I hope you make good progress on all fronts.
    Virtual hugs and real love.
    Mike

    • Carole Olinger on April 2, 2019 at 7:24 am

      Thank you for your very kind words, Mike. I’m positively overwhelmed by all the support I get here and through other channels.
      I still think the community is awesome. But we are also all human beings, right? With our emotions, good and bad behaviours. I think it is natural, that people get pushed back. But it’s also important to speak up when it happens, especially when a pattern is becoming obvious. And unfortunately, I’m not the only one to see one here. As I said in the blog post, I have hopes that there are people on the new leadership level who could make an impact! Let’s wait and see…

  9. Agnieszka Palmowska on April 1, 2019 at 9:21 pm

    Carole, thank you for your honest and open post. I admire you. I hope everything will work out well. Health is the most important thing, don’t worry about anything else. Take your time now, focus on your needs. You are an amazing person and you have done a lot for the WordPress community. I hope you’ll recover quickly and we meet on the next wordpress event as regular attendees. Hugs for you and your lovely dogs ????

    • Carole Olinger on April 2, 2019 at 7:27 am

      Hi Agnieszka, thanks for your heartwarming feedback! I’m already looking forward to meeting you at another event!

  10. Maria on April 1, 2019 at 9:23 pm

    Oh my goodness Carole!
    It breaks my heart to read this ????
    You were one of the main reasons why I fell in love with the WordPress Community, why I found it was sooo much fun to be a volunteer (go figure, my first two volunteering experiences where precisely in WCRetreat Soltau and WCEU-Belgrade… of course, where YOU were in charge of us ????)
    I’m sad that I won’t be seeing you as much in the WP-Community, I will miss you very much.
    But I’m even more sad to learn about all these things going on in your life at the moment ????. I sincerely hope that you feel better soon. You are a beautiful human being, a great WC-Organizer, a wonderful leader to have in charge of a team and a fantastic person to be around of.
    I wish you all the best recovery. I think it is very wise to concentrate on your health and well-being. That absolutely comes first.
    Hopefully I’ll see you around in an upcoming WordCamp, but if not, I wish we cross paths again somewhere some day. I’m really glad I got the chance to meet you last year ????

    Take care of yourself! And keep on being the awesome person you are.

    • Carole Olinger on April 3, 2019 at 8:16 am

      Maria… reading this is really wonderful!
      It makes me so happy I had a positive impact on your first experiences at WordCamps, especially as a volunteer.
      That’s all I wanted to achieve.
      When I joined the community, everybody was welcoming towards me and when I was in charge, I always wanted to my best to contribute to a similar impact.
      Thank you so much for your feedback, I really love it!
      And YOU are amazing, my dear! Smart, passionate, ambitious, friendly, open-minded and just beautiful from the in- and outside!
      I’m happy to know you!

  11. Piccia Neri on April 1, 2019 at 9:40 pm

    I am speechless. And in awe of you for having had the strength to write all this. There is a lot to process here. Thank you for your courage. A big hug.

    • Carole Olinger on April 2, 2019 at 7:28 am

      Thanks for these warm words, Piccia! I sometimes feel a bit weak at the moment, so it’s great to hear that you see my actions as a sign of strength. It helps, a lot! <3

  12. Micha on April 1, 2019 at 10:07 pm

    Gratulation on these brave words!
    And more important, I have the feeling that you have taken these steps before it had hurt you irreversible.
    On the 3 WordCamps if have been, especially WordCamp Retreat, I have experienced you as a very joyous, experienced and helpful person.
    As being introverted it’s harder for me to make new connections. But the atmosphere you and the team have created was so open and relaxed that I had a blast of a weekend included meeting so many cool people and had so many great conversations. Definitely the best conference I have attended so far. And you are a reason why.
    Wishing you, Alain and your dogs all the best for the future!

    • Carole Olinger on April 2, 2019 at 7:32 am

      Thanks for this amazing feedback, Micha! Looking back at WC Retreat, it was an amazing WordCamp, for sure. And it’s definitely one I’m looking forward to going in 2020 as a regular attendee! 😀

  13. Alex Frison on April 1, 2019 at 10:42 pm

    Hey Carole! I wish this is just a bad April Fools joke, but since I knew it’s coming, I know it’s not! 🙁

    Really sad to hear, how your awesome journey of your last 3 years, starting in Vienna at WordCamp Europe 2016, end! Or maybe it is just a pit stop, you fuel your mind and body with new energy and passion. I hope so!

    You certainly will be missed but not forgotten in the WordPress community. You left in just a short period of time a pretty impressive and positive impression to many people in the community. It will be impossible to step into your footsteps. They would misrable fail!

    I’ve seen in the last 11 years of community events, I attended to, very active and passionate people like you come and go. Unfortunately they disappeared most of the time for the exact same reason as you do know now. So this didn’t hit me by surprise! Really sad it is still happening and it will happening in the future unfortunately.

    Keep your spirit and think positive about all the rejection that you have felt lately:
    The wicked envy and hate; it is their way of admiring!

    Looking forward seeing you soon again!

    Say hi to Alain and the rest of the family!

    • Carole Olinger on April 2, 2019 at 7:38 am

      Hi Alex, thanks for your heartwarming feedback and insights. I also think this is not a phenomenon that is new. And it hasn’t been new in the past few months either, with all the amazing women and men taking a break, stepping back from projects/roles or leaving the community. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t speak up. It also doesn’t mean there is nothing we can improve together, as a community and on the leadership level, right?
      I’m not really good at sweeping things under the carpet. 😉
      I’m happy to call you a friend!

  14. strebel on April 1, 2019 at 10:43 pm

    Thank you for your warm hospitality as emcee for in 2017. Good luck to you on your future adventures.

    • Carole Olinger on April 2, 2019 at 7:39 am

      Thanks for your feedback here, Joshua! I hope to meet you and Sally at some other event, you’re amazing people and an overall inspiring couple! <3

      • Sé Reed on April 5, 2019 at 3:55 am

        Wow. We haven’t met, not even on the Twitter, but I’m glad you’re taking time to focus on your health.

        Your story about your WCEU experience is troubling to say the least. I hope we can turn this ship around and I hope our paths cross IRL someday.

        • Carole Olinger on April 5, 2019 at 6:42 am

          Thank you very much for your support. It would be my pleasure to meet you at some point.

  15. Sleepy on April 2, 2019 at 12:07 am

    Dear Carole,

    I firstly looked on the date and thought, o no not another Aprils fool, but this is not anything near of it.

    I feel so bad for what happened to you in our community and really understand your decision to step back at this time.

    We had an awesome time at WordCamps, by organizing some and from which a growing friendship relies. I know that we had some fights in organizing WordCamp Retreat, but the result was awesome and you did a lot for making this happen. I thought also that we, the organizers of WordCamp Retreat found a way so everybody could go head up and look in each others eyes without any bad feelings, but it seems that this wasn’t the case for everybody, and organizing a WordCamp should not hurt someones mental health.

    WCEU is a total different story, and as you wrote, I knew that there happened more strange things in setting up the organizing team of 2019. And there are some old farts with their own agenda and non democratic decision making processes. This community needs a transparent diverse governance if it cares for it’s members. I hope that this will be fixed in the future.

    I can totally understand your decision and had seen this coming. So please if I can do anything for you, you’ve my number, don’t hesitate to ask for help.

    Hugs and best wishes
    Sleepy

    • Carole Olinger on April 2, 2019 at 7:43 am

      Hey Thomas, thanks so much for your honest feedback. There’s not one single word you wrote, I would not agree with. You made some really good points and I see, that you truly understand me. That’s really great to know. I am very happy to have you as a friend and we should definitely spend some quality time in the near future, apart from WP! 😀 Sounds like a plan, right?

      • Sleepy on April 2, 2019 at 8:40 pm

        Yes we should really do and I’m looking forward to it.

  16. Cami on April 2, 2019 at 2:15 am

    Carole, I met you at WordCamp Seattle two years ago. You’re such a memorable person. I appreciate your honesty in this post and feel badly that somebody as amazing as you are feels overlooked at all. In my brief interactions with you, I really found you to be an inspiring person. You have inspired me once again. I hope our paths cross at another WordCamp someday. PS. #womenofwprock

    • Carole Olinger on April 2, 2019 at 7:44 am

      Thanks, Cami, I appreciate your feedback so much! Inspiring other people is the best reward I could ever get. I found so many inspiration inside this community myself and I’m more than happy if I was able to give something back! <3

  17. Kat on April 2, 2019 at 4:37 am

    Based on open and honest conversations we’ve shared, I knew that sooner or later it would come out because that’s who you are and this is how change is sparked. I am always at your side, I am always here to defend you, and I do now and will always love you for who you are. Counting the days until we see each other again. Sending hugs until we do! <3

    • Carole Olinger on April 2, 2019 at 7:45 am

      Thanks, Kat! I love you! You’re amazing in so many ways and I’m so happy we two bumped into each other. You’re a great friend and I’m looking forward to the hugs IRL! <3

  18. raffaella on April 2, 2019 at 7:33 am

    Hey girl,
    I think you know all there is to know about my feelings.

    You are strong, you are loved, and you are blessed with many valuable things. Being aware of what you need is a sign of introspection, being able to let go a sign of wisdom (and on the practical side, something to be grateful for). Letting go is the most important thing to reach a healthier state, and you seem to have taken the right path. Happy to read Mindfulness is helping you, you know how it has helped me. My only advise right now is to not think of anything as fixed… let things flow, and wherever you’ll need be you’ll arrive…

    As for all else, unfortunately the Uni has a funny sense of humor and we learn mostly through painful experiences (the good ones are there to keep us going) but you are on your way in a path of growth.

    And I’m here, whenever you may need me.

    • Carole Olinger on April 2, 2019 at 7:54 am

      Thanks, Raffaella – not only for this comment but also for your friendship and everything you shared with me, including some really good advice when I was in a really bad place! Every time I think about the universe, I also think of you. 🙂 <3

  19. Ahmed Khalifa on April 2, 2019 at 8:16 am

    I’ve never met you in person but I’ve been following you from afar. I have always had a lot of respect in what you’re doing and I feel bad for never even saying that to you online.

    But I feel even worse about what you had to face over the years. I can see and heard nothing but good things about you as a person, your journey and your contribution to WordPress. It may not feel like that, but it is hugely appreciated. If there are people out there who doesn’t care or doesn’t appreciate it, I hope you will know that there are even more people that do care and appreciate you and your contribution.

    I can kind of relate on what it feels like to not receive the level respect back within WordPress despite the good intentions and all the contributions I have made. So your blog post touched me. But then I realised that there are good people out there who did care.

    Whatever you decide in the long-term, I agree and admire your decision to step back. It’s more important that you look after yourself.

    But I do hope to get the chance to say hello to you in person one day, whether it’s in WordPress or not.

    • Carole Olinger on April 2, 2019 at 12:46 pm

      Hello Ahmed, thanks so much for your comment. I’m sad to read that you might have made similar experiences and feel that your contributions are not always respected. But also, you are right: there a lot of people who care about us! The support and feedback I got in the past 20 hours are positively overwhelming! The community is great, for sure. But there are always things that can and need to be improved, especially when it comes to diversity and respect of contribution.
      As I wrote in the blog post: “It’s because of the people that I initially joined the WordPress community and it’s the people that make me want to stay.”
      It would be my pleasure to meet you somehow, somewhere, you seem to be a great person!

  20. Mary Job on April 2, 2019 at 5:30 pm

    It takes courage to share one’s state of mind, this in itself is inspiring and you are definitely right about ones’ health being the most important. With your creators’ Grace, you will overcome this illness that is putting you in pain. And the pain that contributing has caused you will set the path for Carole 3.0, be rest assured it will end in Praise. We still love you and a lot of us definitely value your contributions to the community.

    • Carole Olinger on April 3, 2019 at 7:54 am

      Thank you, Mary! Your words give me a lot of courage. You are a very inspiring person too!

  21. ExDev on April 2, 2019 at 8:11 pm

    Congrats to your decision, about time more people realize that WordPress community as we knew it is no more… sad but true.

  22. Jonathan harris on April 3, 2019 at 7:10 am

    This was extremely brave to write this. I am proud of you. You have to look after yourself at the end of the day. Meeting people and travelling takes a lot out of you. Not everyone is outgoing by default and be always putting a face on is hard, mentally.

    As for your comments, if it helps at all, I have been ignored or dismissed many times. Specially lately with Gutenberg. It has nothing to do with my gender, colour or sexually. More to do with open source being run by people working for free. When they work for free, some people want to be in charge and only their vision will the thing that is done. No one is being paid so you can’t fire them. It sucks and has nothing to do with you really.

    • Carole Olinger on April 3, 2019 at 8:01 am

      Your words are very true, Jonny!
      In general, I agree that in a volunteer-driven project, decisions are made in different ways and that mostly a rejection doesn’t have anything to do with you personally. I’ve been through this before and I understand the system.
      Yes, of course, there is a “but”:
      In my case here, it was not simply a decision “not for me”, it was an active decision against me. And the feedback I got was nothing I could work on.
      In the end, a woman being told by a two white male leadership that she’s “too good” in what she does and it could make other people feel uncomfortable, is a very toxic message. What could I improve on my side? Being less good? Not gonna happen.
      I will not be suppressed to make others feel better!

    • Caspar Hübinger on April 3, 2019 at 1:08 pm

      Jonathan, I think it is important to understand that Carole’s case is different from your own experience. The information at hand provides no justification whatsoever to categorically dismiss gender bias as a possible factor in the equation.

      Further more, there’s a systemic aspect regarding the consequences of a respected female contributor leaving the project, because she is one of a disproportionately small number of female role models within her community. That aspect scales a personal (and most certainly understandable) decision directly into the scope of the future success of the global open source project, because we all know a successful community is built on diversity.

      So yes, to an arguable degree, this is very much about gender.

    • Alain Schlesser on April 3, 2019 at 1:30 pm

      Hey Jonny,

      I can totally relate to what you are sharing, and that is certainly something we should strive to change for the better. I’m always trying to support the people around me myself for that reason, and I know how important it can be to at least get the slightest bit of acknowledgment from time to time. Do know that it is obvious to some of us at least that you’re putting in huge amounts of effort, and it is deeply appreciated.

      However, as someone who had more behind-the-scenes insights (from both sides) and knows about a lot of the additional context that is not explicitly stated in the above blog post, I can assure you that this was very much about gender and very much about Carole as an individual person.

      Therefore, it is important to not just “dismiss” this as “that’s just how such projects roll”. These are separate issues, and both need to be dealt with. But confounding them will make it that much easier to just continue ignoring them.

      Cheers, and see you soon in London!

  23. janw.oostendorp on April 3, 2019 at 3:41 pm

    It could not have been easy to write this. I wish you all the best.

    • Carole Olinger on April 3, 2019 at 4:19 pm

      Thanks, Jan. Very much appreciated!

  24. Ahmad Awais on April 4, 2019 at 10:15 pm

    Sorry to read about all this.

    What exactly does that mean? Stop being awesome to make others feel better about their own performance?

    That’s exactly what I was told by a ^^ team last year which was and is the most demotivating factor that drove me away from the community after being bullied, harassed and whatnot.

    • Carole Olinger on April 5, 2019 at 6:41 am

      Hi Ahmad, I am so very sorry to read you made similar experiences! I will never understand why anybody would push away people who are good and passionate about what they are doing. But hell yes, it’s about them and not about us!
      Keep your head up, Ahmad, and thanks so much for your support!

  25. Sodiq Akinjobi on April 5, 2019 at 7:02 am

    Thank you for sharing your story. Wish you all the best in your Journey to recovery.

    Love from Lagos

  26. Bradley D on April 5, 2019 at 9:35 am

    Keep being awesome, it helps others be awesome!

  27. John on April 5, 2019 at 11:00 am

    Hi Carole, it sounds like you are doing all the right things. I have had a few struggles with depression, fortunately I find it easier to deal with now than I used to. When I feel it coming I try to focus on the process of maintaining my physical health, I know not doing so makes everything worse. Eating well, small amounts of regular exercise and getting enough sleep, simple things can all be a struggle to do or even care about, you just have to do them anyway. It is always a struggle, but it helps me to remind myself that it has always passed before and it will pass again, I try to look forward to that time, and not back. The Iceland trip sounds perfect. I wish you all the best and hope it goes fantastically well.

  28. Marina Pape on April 5, 2019 at 4:42 pm

    You were my speaker wrangler in 2017 at WCEU and made me feel so safe and confident going on stage. Thank you! And all the best as you move ahead x

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