Reflections on quarter life

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Legion of Honor. Taken November 7th, 2020.

On Saturday afternoon, I organized a little socially distanced birthday gathering with a few friends in San Francisco. To my surprise, Golden Gate Park was completely packed with revelers—and more jubilant than I’ve ever seen. As I walked towards the Conservatory of Flowers, my fellow park-goers spontaneously erupted into whoops and cheers, their applause and laughter filling the air like a thousand reveries.

It was a beautiful day to turn 25. The sweetest birthday gift was the promise of a new beginning: a democratic president and an era of less hatred, less division in a deeply divided country. …


The founder’s perspective in 2020.

Working in Golden Gate Park — San Francisco, CA
Working in Golden Gate Park — San Francisco, CA
Working in Golden Gate Park—San Francisco, CA

In January, you are in Lisbon, dreaming of the future. You have left your job as a product manager at Twitter and moved to Portugal to think about your next steps. You have an idea for a consumer product that will allow people to access high-quality news behind paywalls with a single paid account. As a former journalist, you have seen how economic incentives can distort the way information is presented and distributed, and how serious the consequences are for society. …


Fiction Friday

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Photo by Unsplash

Charlie grinned, Rabelaisian in his antics. He held up the holographic Pokémon card high in the air.

“You see this?…This is a you-can-do-anything card. You can use it to do anything you want, but only once, and you have to burn it afterwards.”

I held my breath. Lifted from his older brother’s private collection, shuffled in secret on the playground’s black market, Charlie had done unspeakable things to obtain this card—things his mom would kill him for if she found out.

“If you don’t burn it afterwards,” he warned, squinting into the sun, tossing his mop of skater hair to the side, “your wish won’t come true.” …


A step-by-step guide from a web design aficionado.

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The homepage of my site.

Over the years I’ve gotten many compliments on my personal website.

The benefits of having one have been numerous—ranging from online friendships with interesting people to promotional offers to occasional contract gigs. It’s also nice to have a tiny corner of the internet that’s entirely my own, a place where I can showcase my work and connect instantly with kindred spirits.

If you’re looking to create a site of your own and wondering where to start, today I’m going to walk you through my thinking and decision-making process, end to end. …


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Photo by Unsplash

Christopher Rene felt his eyelids growing heavy as he wiped invisible dust from tiny vials of English rose oil.

It was ten minutes to closing time, but the world outside seemed to be moving in slow motion. The perfume shop was warm and fragrant that evening, a cocktail of scents serenading his senses — and against the slow, steady, serene tick of the grandfather clock, sleep beckoned lovingly, promising English-rose-scented dreams.

The bell chimed; a customer had just entered the shop. Curious who would come in at this hour, he glanced sleepily into the foyer to see a beautiful woman in a floor-length red gown, stepping delicately over the threshold. …


Tried & tested recommendations from a diehard Lisbon lover.

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Christmas in Lisbon. Photo by Yehong Zhu

Ah, Lisbon. With 4.5 million visitors per year, it’s one of the world’s leading tourist destinations—and a city that, for the past winter, I’ve been lucky to call home. Given that there are too many attractions worth seeing in this historic seaside capital, it was tough to pick favorites. But if you ever get a chance to explore, here are a few places you definitely shouldn’t miss.

Fancy restaurants:

Mid-price restaurants:


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Posing with Jack & the APMs, Twitter HQ.

Shortly after graduation, I joined Twitter as an associate product manager in their third cohort. I was part of a program that trains newly recruited talent in the rarefied art of product management. They told us that 8,000 people applied for 7-8 roles. And judging by the influx of people messaging me non-stop about it on LinkedIn, it’s a highly coveted position.

Since I’ve left Twitter, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about my motivations for leaving, as well as what I’m doing next. To my great surprise, I have often heard the word brave being used to describe me. “Since when am I brave?” I asked my good friend Emily. “Who walks away from a high-paying, prestigious job?” she retorted. “Nobody. …


six months of adulthood: a retrospective

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My famously unkempt apartment. San Francisco, Oct. 2018.


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Of all chance occurrences, you meet in the airport.

After a frantic dash through security, you miraculously arrive half an hour before your plane is scheduled to depart. Winded, luggage in hand, you are breathing a sigh of relief. Amidst the bustle of the crowded gate, all pressure evaporates, and you take an open seat next to a stranger.

His name is Matthias, and he wasn’t handsome — at least, not in the traditional sense. Rough-and-tumble hair, too-wide cheekbones, a touch of asymmetricality slanting his features. …


From PEK to BOS, circa 2017.

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Obliteration Room by Yayoi Kasuma

When I ask myself what I learned last year, I never have any answers. What I do have, in abundance, are stories. Anecdotes of the people I’ve met, memories of the things I’ve done. Inklings of how my experiences have changed me.

I have a theory that stories are more important than answers. That’s why we tell them and re-tell them, when all else is lost. The stories we tell others, and especially the ones we tell ourselves — they are our only legacy, the atomic bonds that hold our universe together.

Because when you’re puzzling over the pieces of your life, fretting about how they fit into your future, you keep what’s beautiful close to your heart, in case you only get to see this once. You immortalize your stories in writing, social media, photographs. Anything to ensure them against time. …

About

Yehong Zhu

Eternal Optimist | yehongzhu.com

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