Four years ago, I sat on a sandy beach chugging a bottle of champagne and ringing in the new year with a mild sense of unease. Time was passing too quickly. And who, exactly was I becoming? What Did I want to make of this time?
That was the year I started this collection of essays, The Year of the Looking Glass. I set yearly writing goals. I peered inward and shook out what I saw and scattered it across the blank page. I thought that if I could write it, I could inscribe it in my mind, and if I could say it out loud to the world, I could discover where my convictions lie.
A lot has changed in four years. I’ve brought little people onto this earth. I wear my identity as a working mother and female in this industry more as a sweatshirt now than as a badge. My job affords me greater responsibilities, and with that greater freedom as well. I have written over 100 essays and hundreds of thousands of words, and along the way, hundreds of thousands of people have read those words.
This New Year, I am once again on a beach, once again with champagne in hand, but I am not uneasy. The journey to understand the self is never complete, but I have my compass and my maps. I know how to read the wind. So it’s time for a change.
When I started with the goal of writing and publishing once a week, I was doing it for myself. I wrote to tidy the jumbled thoughts in my mind, to give them shape and color. I wrote about the things that knotted the pit of my stomach, or that blew around in my head like a wind. I wrote to understand and to explain and to make sense of things.
This year, I’d like to try something new. I want to write less for myself, and more for others. For the people out there who have found some use, no matter how small, in the things I’ve discussed. Who have followed along over the years and encouraged me with their likes and comments and messages. Who have introduced themselves to me at events and made it that much easier for me to say what I wanted to say.
I want to write about the things that you care about, as honestly and helpfully as I can. I want to talk about the hard stuff, the things you are afraid to ask but want to know. I want to use my experience — the good and the bad, about what I’ve learned about design and product and management and career growth— to make it a little bit easier for someone else out there. Given the tumult of the past year, it feels like a tiny thing I can do to pay it forward.
This year, the Looking Glass looks outwards.
I don’t want to complicate things, so it’s going to happen through good old-fashioned email to start. If that doesn’t work well, we’ll learn and make changes.
I’ve created a mailing list, so you can opt in you want to. You can send your questions to me at <ask at juliezhuo dot com>, and every week on Sunday, I’ll pick one question, answer it to the best of my abilities, and send that out to the entire mailing list. If lots of people are asking similar things, I’ll pick those to answer. Occasionally, I might share a question and answer here on Medium. But I believe it will be easier for me to be honest with a smaller group that has chosen to opt-in into participating.
Thank you, as always, for reading.
May your New Year shine with optimism. May we end it better people than when we started.