Interviewed by Sania Ahmad.
I see that you’re the founder and editor-in-chief of FOURALL Magazine. Could you tell us a little about FOURALL? What inspired you to create it?
FOURALL has been an incredible journey for me. At the beginning of quarantine, I discovered a number of amazing youth and/or student led publications. I was so fascinated with the amount of creativity being poured into these platforms, and I loved the sense of community they were able to foster among young people. I decided to start my own virtual zine because of how inspired I was. FOURALL is 100% virtual and 100% free because I want to give other young people the chance to have a platform that is made by people like them, without any barriers. Everyone should have access to the arts, to news, to community, and to culture. As a Gen-Z person apart of the BIPOC community, creating and sharing a platform like this has been such a special experience.
What are some obstacles you faced when creating FOURALL? How did you overcome them? Has creating the publication ever affected your mental health?
Like I said before, creating FOURALL has been so special and personal for me, but I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say it’s been a struggle as well. There are days when I wake up to 20 emails and DM’s that need to be replied to, and empty magazine pages that need to be designed, or interns that need my help creating a pop-culture article. Everyday there’s something different, and even though this is something I’m super passionate about, I still have a life outside of this. I have school, I’m going to college next fall, I have a family, I have friends. I think with everything that’s on my plate, things get a little bit overwhelming sometimes. There’s nights when I get maybe 1-2 hours of sleep, because I’m working on school from 8am to 3pm and then I have to work on the magazine until the early morning hours, stuff like that. But I try my best to keep everything balanced and organized, and I think as time goes on I’m getting better at prioritizing myself and my mental health. I know there’s other people out there like me, people who might be overachievers or are willing to completely disregard self care in order to get something done. You can do both! You can be as creative and hardworking and ambitious as you want, while still taking care of yourself and your needs. And that’s something I’m trying to learn and internalize myself.
What would you say to people who are wanting to launch their own startup but are scared of the commitment and responsibilities that come with it?
The best advice I can give you is to just go for it. I know that’s probably the same advice you hear from everyone, but it’s so true. I promise you, what ever big project or startup or publication you want to start is 100% doable. If you’re hesitant about the commitment or level of responsibilities, start out slow and steady! Let’s say you want to start a blog: maybe start by taking some time to write only your first blog post, then take some more time to design the website, then after you have that set up you can start promoting it on social media. These things take time, and if you’re really passionate about what you want to do, I suggest easing yourself into the creative process and letting things unfold from there.
What’s your favorite part about being the editor-in-chief of FOURALL?
100% my favorite part is designing. I wear a million and one hats as editor-in-chief, from managing the social media, to running the executive and intern teams, to planning issue releases. But by far, being able to design each magazine page and create content for our social media has been what makes my role so fun. I honestly didn’t even know graphic/creative design was something I enjoyed this much until I started doing it consistently, and now I think I prefer it over writing pieces for the magazine. (Honorable mention to managing the social media though, our community is so funny and I smile everytime I’m able to interact with everyone who supports us.)
Are there any specific psychological conditions that mean a lot to you? If so, what are they?
There are a few! Conditions like anxiety, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease have greatly affected me, my friends, and my family.
What’s your favorite issue of FOURALL and why?
I have two! From a design point of view, I loved the color scheme and the fonts of Issue 5! I think you can tell my personal design skills had improved so much since earlier issues. But from a content/writing point of view, Issue 3 is definitely my favorite. What publication do you know covering One Direction’s fame, cancel culture, trans visibility, the rise of Tiktok, the #freeBritney movement, and a guide to mastering online school all in one issue? My team and I worked so hard on Issue 3 and it’ll always be one of my faves.
What self-care practices do you recommend and why?
I love using art as a self-care practice! Things like painting, writing, drawing, coloring, etc have all been super helpful and calming me down after a stressful day and allowing me to regroup and reground myself.
What would you say about the stigma around mental health in the BIPOC community? Why do you believe it’s so heightened?
I’d say that I hope young people today can work to erase the stigma in the BIPOC community. For so long, mental health has been viewed as unnecessary or unreal, and the denial of mental illness or conditions have caused so many problems. We can educate the next generation, and even generations before us to make real change.
What does mental health mean to YOU?
To me, mental health is so important. It’s what keeps us going in our everyday lives, it’s what allows us to perceive and participate in the world around us. It’s what can prevent us from making connections with others or make progress in life, should we end up neglecting it. Just like the health we regard, like going for a check-up at the doctors or getting a yearly eye exam, we need to check up on ourselves and our loved one’s mental health as well.