As I reflect on the past two weeks spent traveling and working with fellows from around the world, I realize how much this experience has made me grow – both personally and professionally. As journalists, the majority of our time is spent alone: planning projects, reporting in often difficult environments, editing at home or in coffee shops. We get used to the silence around us and keep moving forward, always eager to make our next story better than the last. We convince ourselves that we can do this alone, that there is no time to ask for help. Up until now, I lived anchored in the belief that if I couldn’t figure it out on my own, it probably meant that I was doing it wrong.
On the very first day of the reporting trip, this dangerous misconception crumbled to the ground. I was in complete awe of the talent and kindness that surrounded me. As an introvert that finds comfort in solitude, I never thought that having a group of experienced, caring women around me – a tribe, as we like to call it – would make such a huge difference in my life. We all come from different backgrounds, have been shaped by different life experiences, cover different topics in our reporting and yet, we all share a common truth: we wholeheartedly immerse ourselves in the hardships of others, hoping, through our work, to leave people’s lives better than we found them.
Constantly exposed to humanity’s suffering and injustices, our work can easily take a heavy toll on our own lives, unless self-care becomes an absolute priority in our routines. The meaningful friendships created on this trip have become essential elements of my own well-being. I now know that challenges do not necessarily need to be faced alone; there are peers out there who want to listen and offer advice. I’ve learned to take myself less seriously, deeply rooted in the knowing that my work comes from the heart and that laughing endlessly to fellows’ stories is healthy for the mind. Most importantly, however, the experience of finding my tribe while reporting in a country filled with both life-threatening chaos and inextricable beauty, brought to me the greatest gift of all: meeting kind-hearted women journalists who genuinely want to see you succeed at work and at life, and who are prepared to give their all to help you get to where you want to be.