For my year review, I measure progress by considering how many times I have left my comfort zone. They are in chronological order.
- I turned down a video producer job in Singapore with Thomson Reuters to join the founding team of a media startup covering tech in Beijing. A year ago, I followed my gut without overthinking and endured a 60% salary cut. My decision has become a fun story to tell at job interviews: why I am crazy to choose an uncertain path. Also, my lessons learned from the hiring process with a startup.
- I confronted with a short-term long-distance romantic partner by presenting facts in a detailed note. I did not shed a single tear. Instead, I felt liberated after I hit the send button. It became clear to me this partner was self-centered and dishonest: he wanted my exclusivity and at the same time exploring low-hanging fruits in his vicinity across the Pacific. One day, one of the fruits has ripe, and he went on radio silence. I understood his motive because he is eager to procreate with a partner. But I lost trust with this person because of his miscommunication.
- After four years of volunteering in the nonprofit as an officer, I won a stipend to present at the Asian American Journalists Association’s conference in Seoul, South Korea in May where I spoke about Mainland Chinese’s obsession with WeChat. I was delighted to reconnect with my extended AAJA family. It was my first time presenting at this conference, and a technical difficulty had prevented me from using visuals. I presented with my talking points only. In the end, I received feedback that I came across passionate about my topic.
- I went on a solo, soul-searching trip in South Korea after I spoke at the conference. I needed time off from Beijing to reflect on my personal and professional journey. I accomplished my first cycling trip by myself around Jeju Island. I rediscovered my creativity in photography, revived my ability to pick up the Korean language from observing my surroundings, and rekindled the kindness in human beings when I met Koreans along the way. It began with the friendly bike rental shop manager served as my lifeline, a team of professional male cyclists cheered for me, and genuine connections with my guesthouse hosts albeit language difficulty. We used Google Translate to aid our communications, but I felt their warm welcome.
- Over the summer, I attended a destination wedding as a bridesmaid in the U.S. state of Vermont. I was the first guest to arrive five days before the big day. I know the bride’s family well as I spent Christmas holidays with them back in college. But I observed many miscommunications among the family members and the marrying couple on this trip. Both parties did not receive the other side’s intended messages because of lack of clarity. Misunderstandings led to tears, disappointments and hatred. I tried not to be in the middle. The night before the wedding after a welcome reception, the bride wanted the bridal party to make last-minute decorations. She left us alone with no execution instructions after she told us her wishes. With her absence to direct and the pressure of time, I stepped up to lead the team by assigning tasks base on everyone’s preference: making flower crowns, bouquets, and folding origamis. I wish I knew all these tasks when I first arrived, so none of us had to stay past midnight the night before the wedding. The word “disorganized” kept flashing in my head, but I hid my anger to respect the occasion. The bride was disrespectful with everyone’s time. Oh, did I mention the groom had left his wedding suit in his Brooklyn apartment before he hit the road to Vermont?
- I joined an online book club which focuses on personal and professional growth. I’m a slow reader, but I’m grateful to connect with like-minded individuals who are looking for self-development. Thank you LeadWithWords for organizing a monthly webinar to summarize the book of the month and leading soft skills training from negotiation to presentations.
- I hit my one-year mark in Beijing and here is a recap. I’m finding my bearings in the city. I think the Chinese capital is ideal for professionals to live alone. In my experience, from groceries deliveries to home-cooked meals and laundry service are all on-demand. I’m also grateful to connect with several advisors who are my guiding light. As one who is paying forward said, “When I first met Wendy, she reminded me of myself when I arrived in Beijing five, six years ago. I wish there were somebody who’s been there, in the beginning, to point me in the right direction. Wendy has been amicable.”
Now I turn to some directions I’m headed in 2017. I’m embracing entrepreneurial spirits.
- A Chinese-American entrepreneur who has been in Beijing since 2001 reminded me that a good reporter needs to localize oneself. It’s absolutely true. I localized myself when I covered local news in New York by talking like a New Yawker and understanding their issues. Even Duncan Clark asked if I were from New York when we made acquaintance in Beijing.
- I need to be completely fluent in Mandarin, use appropriate slangs, speak with the right accent and the tech circles lingo. There’s no shortcut. I’m reading Chinese tech press every day, and I’m doubling my private Mandarin lessons to analyze memes, practice speaking and listening.
- I’m getting up to speed with relevant industries knowledge. 2016 was a year of adjustment in my career after relocation and learning the sectors’ movers and shakers. As I find more clarity in my goal, I’ll wear my invisible crown high without veering off directions. (Thanks to Elbert Hubbard’s sage advice.)
- My soul-searching journey is on-going. I plan to make a solo trip once a year to reflect and evaluate my goals. It was therapeutic after my second one in South Korea in 2016. I also backpacked alone for three weeks in Vietnam in 2015. I’m considering a yoga retreat after reading this the WSJ story.
I’ll wrap my review and directions for 2017 with a powerful speech by Madonna winning Billboard’s Women of the Year for 2016.
“To the doubters, the naysayers who gave me hell, and said that I could not, that I would not, and that I must not, your resistance had made me stronger, made me push harder, made me the fighter I’m today, made me the woman I’m today. So thank you.” – Madonna