Is This All There Is?


Two months ago, I made a decision to divert from a career path I once thought I would follow for at least another 5 years. Friends were surprised. So were former colleagues.

“You were doing great. Why are you leaving?”

“I thought XX [former employer] has a company culture that fits you so well. Don’t you wanna practice journalism any more?”

“You’re sure you are switching to a new industry? Have you considered the risks?”

All were fair questions I got asked by friends and colleagues.

Yes, leaving the media industry for architecture seemed odd at first sight. After all, I had studied and practiced journalism for more than seven years. I had just been promoted to chief writer at a rising Chinese digital media company. My career seemed promising. And I loved what I was doing.

But I knew something was wrong.

While there were downturns in my previous journalism career, it had been smooth for most of the time. I learnt and grew quickly.

From there came a surge of anxiety.

I had chosen journalism because I knew I had an instinct for it. I had this “little storyteller” growing on me since I was very young. So doing well, as far as I was considered, should be natural, especially considering the time and energy I put into practicing it. And for long I enjoyed the consequent recognition and growth I got out of it.

Then, at one point I started to ponder…”is this all there is?”

The world is so large and full of possibilities. Should I stop there?
I thought to myself, maybe there would be a second or third thing that I felt passionate about but I just didn’t realize before. (I attribute this thought partly to the experience of being a business reporter, which has opened my eye to numerous new industries and stimulated my curiosity for further exploration). Or maybe there wouldn’t be, which doesn’t matter at least I tried and figured it out.

Shanghai Night

So when a new opportunity approached me, I found no reasons to say no.
However, it was not without careful consideration. I had made sure that this new opportunity fulfills three expectations.

First, it needs to be an area I have an interest about. Before I began to think about seriously committing myself to it, I talked to as many people I knew who are already in the architecture industry, and to read as many books as I could about the subject matter to further ensure my interest and potential.

Second, it has to be a position where I could leverage my previous experiences and skills to maker bigger contribution than what I could do if I stayed with my former company.

Third, it must provide opportunities for continuing self-growth that would enlarge my capacity to explore more things.

When those expectations were fulfilled, I said yes, and that brought me to where I am—a digital media editor at an established architecture firm! Every day I am acquiring new knowledge and skills about an industry facing unprecedented challenges and opportunities shaped by evolving technology, progressive social and economic development. That means we need to adopt different approaches to architecture and urban design and provide efficient solutions to the challenges unique to the economic, ecological and cultural conditions in the region.


Two months have passed, and I am glad I made the decision. I’m even more glad that for the first time in life, I realized that making a decision isn’t that hard as it appeared to be. What could be harder? That is to convince yourself out of the comfort zone and to start thinking about taking risks.

Anita Xu

Anita Xu

You can contact Anita Xu at anitaxu@