It’s the dawn of a new year, so it seems fitting to start it off with a very real truth: I had a hell of a time writing a post about 2018. I tried writing a letter, like last year. I tried highlighting some of my favorite moments. I tried penning an essay with a single, poignant story, to share something personal about what the year taught me.
All of it fell really flat.
It took me a couple days (and a quick overnight trip to Napa on Sunday—any excuse for a wine country getaway, right?) to clear my head and figure out why.
Last year was without doubt one of the most intense, emotional, wonderful, beautiful, surreal, fun, expansive, [insert 50 more adjectives here], best years of my life. I hesitate to say BEST YEAR EVER, because does such a thing exist? There was an equal measure of pain, of headlines that made me want to bash my head against a wall, of loss, of uncomfortable growth, of feeling completely burnt out from work. But on so many fronts, it was great. There was simply no way I could write one post to encapsulate what it was like. Everything fell flat, because the year was too many things.
The other thing I realized is it’s still going, in a way. Most years, flipping the calendar from December to January feels like taking a giant eraser to parts of my life, giving me an opportunity to begin anew, clean the slate, a whole blank notebook before me, breathless with anticipation for another 365 days of stories. But 2018 feels special, because so many new stories began, and so many wheels were put in motion. All those things carry over into 2019; there’s simply no leaving them behind. They were seeds planted over the course of one year, and in the next, it’s my job to continue nurturing them, to see how they grow.
This is all vague, so here are two big examples:
One, obviously, is the story of my birth family. It makes me laugh to think about this now, but last year, I thought going to Korea and meeting biological relatives would be the closing of a chapter. Like tying a neat little bow on a journey. Oh sweet, naive, 2018 Victoria! In fact, while the trip definitely closed one (small) door, it simultaneously opened about a thousand more. In 2019, I’m still assessing the long term impact of last summer’s trip, and will hopefully continue developing relationships with my family of origin. In some really WOW personal news, one of my sisters and her daughter—my niece, my first ever!—are coming to visit me in San Francisco in February. To say I’m excited and a little nervous is an understatement! It is bizarre to think about traveling and sharing my city with a sibling, when for so many years, I didn’t have even one. To say to Joe, for the first time ever, “Meet my sister.” To be in America with a family member, and people can tell we’re related. So many firsts! I feel lucky and blessed to even have this opportunity, but as you can imagine, it brings up a lot of emotions too.
The other big thing happening for me in 2019 is a shift in how I work. I mean it this time! Despite being burnt out at the end of 2017, I didn’t address the issue as I should have in 2018, and I really reached the bottom of my well. You probably noticed, with longer, quieter stretches between new posts. For 2019, I’ve already begun changing how and who I work with, to dedicate more time to the creative personal projects I’ve been putting off for a long time. I’ve been doing a lot of writing behind the scenes, on a work that might become a memoir, or something else, or never see the light of day, I don’t know. I want to write more personal, relatable essays for you guys here (and maybe via a newsletter—what do you think, would you subscribe?). And just post more regularly, period. I’ll be picking your brain about some topics I have in mind, (and topics you’d like to see) next week. Quick update: I did it, I started another newsletter sign up! Go to More, then newsletter up in the scrolling navigation above, or click Newsletter in the main blog navigation!)
And—here’s a big change—I actually want to design less. For the foreseeable future, I’ve decided to take a little sabbatical from doing custom website design projects. I’ll be focusing on my retainer clients, building <em>press (it surprised us with its growth last year, and we want to invest more time into it!), and on writing projects. Just like my personal journey, I’m excited and nervous about these professional changes, too. They feel different, and it’s scary to let go of the processes (and revenue flow) I’ve become used to over the better part of a decade.
But truthfully, after 7 years of running the studio, things had been feeling a little boring. Stale. Learn from me: burn out AND boredom is an awful combination. Avoid this at all costs. I realized late last summer I really needed a change.
Journeying into the unknown is always a little scary—and what is the beginning of any new year if not an unknown?—but I also know that challenging myself when there are no promises or guaranteed outcomes always yields the most growth, and the best surprises in life. So here goes.
If my past 365 days have taught me anything, it is this: Give yourself permission to change. To make a new habit. To let go of the old, and to begin anew. To do something foreign, or that five years ago, you could never imagine yourself doing. Stay open and curious—not only to new ideas and perspectives, but to challenging your OWN beliefs and proclivities. The best is yet to come, indeed. And my forever motto, always: Have faith in yourself, and in the future.
Let’s do this thing. Onward!