This week marks the first virtual convention for the Asian American Journalists Association, my eighth consecutive conference with them, and the first one where I am participating as a speaker.
AAJA has been a lifeline for me over the years — both professionally and personally — providing needed leadership and practical skills to navigate the journalism industry, as well as a social support system to help me not just survive, but thrive as I had to repeatedly pivot between reporting and editing to freelancing, from full-time to part-time to freelance work, and from print to digital to both and audio storytelling and entrepreneurship.
During her interview with Dr. Sanjay Gupta on #AAJAFest #AAJA20 Day 1, Axios’ Niala Boodhoo asked him how he addresses his own mental health and self-care, particularly considering that “Relentless stress is what journalists do” even when there isn’t a pandemic, social unrest, and economic turmoil going on simultaneously. This is true for all journalists, whether we are on staff at a major national outlet or freelancing as an independent creator.
AAJA gave me opportunities to learn and innovate and reinvent/expand myself constantly, and I am fortunate to be a 2016 alum of the Executive Leadership Program and 2018 Catalyst program. And paying it back and forward is the natural next step. It’s been a privilege to be an AAJA Mentor and NY Chapter Secretary and now VP, and I’m thrilled to join the awesome Wudan Yan, Erin Chan Ding and Ellen Lee in helping other AAJAers navigate the freelance waters.