Yes, you heard right – this is the week that marks five years of Runaway Juno. Five years. Five! Can you believe it? The site was born to feature my travel stories and photographs that I couldn’t share with my day-to-day friends. It was nothing more than scribbles from my travel journals in my second-grade English. But it mattered not. I immediately found the most welcoming community of travel bloggers, and Runaway Juno has never stopped since. I’m fortunate.
So, what has changed over the last five years?
Runaway Juno was born in a dark corner of my office while I was a cubic farmer (the term I like to use that means ‘office worker’). I featured photos and funny stories from my previous travels, because no-one really wanted to hear about them in my ‘real’ life. Just like that, I found my audience, supporters, and friends online.
I never expected this to be my career. It was just one of the stress-relievers from my high-pressured engineering job. No matter what time I came home, I updated the site every day. Eventually it brought me out from my conventional box, and made me realize that I wanted a job in the travel industry.
So, I got one.
The idea started from a small seed, but nonetheless, I’m now working in the travel industry as a digital storyteller. Success in the making, I like to think.
I was in the deepest ditch when I decided to leave my job. If someone had painted my life during that time, it would have been grayscale with a hint of angry red. I talked to no-one, including my family. And then the bomb went off: it seemed impossible to get closer with my family after the whole ‘quitting the perfect job’ fiasco in 2011. I’ve said this many times: that was the toughest period of my life. My heart was shattered. I left home, once for three months, once for 14 months, and several times more after that, while having almost no communication with my father. It must have been a tough time for him as well.
Three and a half years have passed. Lots has changed. We are different people now. And I’m glad to say, we are closer than ever. There is still underlying disappointment and expectations. But we are now mature enough to live with it.
I’ve always been conscious about my health, but it wasn’t my priority when my life wasn’t panning out great. Stress affected my body.
Ever since I started traveling, I’ve noticed some changes. First, food. I’m more aware of what I eat, and how it’s processed. As a proud Korean who grew up near our traditional market, I can be quite snobby about food ingredients. And traveling has only developed that quality stronger.
Second, my body. Trying new sports and adventure activities has provided me with a good opportunity to really feel my body: the good, the bad, and everything in between. Traveling has led me to be more active (as I wanted to be), and that has taught me a lot about my own body.
If we simplify life down to its very core values, it’s obvious that health is right in the center. As my mom always says, we can do nothing with bad health.
Now I’m the biggest advocate of following your dreams. I often describe myself as a “happiness-seeking storyteller”, because that’s who I am. The moment I finally realized that I needed a big change in my life was the most terrifying and important moment (for more background, please read “Time to Spill the Bucket“). I knew I had to stop dreaming, and start doing things. I needed to be a leader and the decision maker for my own life.
Dreams are here to come true, but it’s not always that easy. There are quite a lot of us, not only in Asia but also around the world. It happens to everyone: to men, women, young, old, Asian, and other races too. To help others to achieve their dreams and encourage them to go out in the world, I created the Asian Women’s Empowerment Organization. We host annual conferences, and the upcoming AWE ’15 will be in Jogja, Indonesia.
Everyone deserves to be happy. This precious life deserves to have its potential maximized.
I was featured on Yahoo Travel’s Romance column last week. Many of my friends and industry partners were excited to see the story of how travel became the core contributing factor to a romance. Everyone loves a romance story, and it’s even better with the right twist! That’s right, I was an independent single Korean woman in March 2010 who had just started to bloom as a real person, and now I’m about to get married. Literally, in three weeks, with Stephen (you can check out the groom-to-be here – BohemianTraveler.com)!
Just as many female leads in romantic movies learn from their successes and failures, I’ve also learned that relationships and a partner shouldn’t define who I am as a person.
Generally speaking, relationships work the best when two complete individuals meet and grow together. Getting into a relationship because there’s nothing that makes you happy and you’re secretly hoping that the other person will make you happy, is just a wrong reason, and it won’t work out as you hope it will. I wasn’t perfect and certainly I don’t expect to be anytime soon, but I’ve become more independent as an individual by having a supporting and loving relationship. As I always say, you can’t be independent without knowing how to be dependent.
Five years. That’s a big chunk of time. They have been the most dynamic years of my life, and have certainly made me excited about what’s coming next. I sincerely thank everyone who’s made this possible over the years.
Thanks for tuning in, bearing with my terrible English (it got better, didn’t it?), and supporting my stories. I’m thrilled to carry on.
Five years of Runaway Juno. I’m excited. Five more years?