Two years ago, I made the decision to return to Vancouver.
Back then, I felt certain about what I was driven by yet uncertain about my place in the world. Coming back to the city I grew up in was strange. It struck me that I had never really experienced Vancouver as an adult. Having moved and travelled a lot, my friends were from all over the place and I was initially surprised to find myself without a social circle in the city I grew up in. It was a fascinating experiment of recreating community.
I love this city for what it is and what it isn’t. Among many things, it’s a smaller tightly-knit city with good work-life balance and world-class access to nature. It’s not an energetic fast-paced global city that attracts top international talent. This city provides me with a lot of comfort because of the strong relationships and familiarity I have here.
However, at different points of our lives we need different things. For the earlier years of my adult life, I prioritized work and life experience. This took me to Toronto and London. I got to travel to ~30 countries within my early 20s and had some unreal career experiences. What I didn’t prioritize was mental health or emotional hygiene. Because Vancouver felt so comfortable to me, being here meant I was able to secure the luxury of deep focus on self-reflection and inner work over a two-year timespan.
A question I like to ask people around this time of year is:
“How would you describe your past year in one word or theme?”
For me, 2017 was the year of stability. 2018 was the year of self-love.
This growth has led me to my decision to depart Vancouver for the foreseeable future. I believe I am at peak luckiness in life: I am healthy as are my loved ones, I don’t have burdensome responsibilities like mouths to feed nor people on my payroll, Canadian passport privilege is very real, and much more. I’m so grateful for what this city and its people have given me time and time again, and I feel so ready for my next steps.
Last week I wrapped up at my full-time permanent job in political consulting with a great team. Next week I’m embarking on a solo journey around the world.
I’m doing this because it’s important for me to deeply understand the world around us and the people who inhabit its every corner. While I’ve been privileged to travel a lot, most of my travels have been to developed countries. This time around, I plan to spend most of my time in developing countries. I know the social impact I can create in this world will be limited if I do not understand what the majority of the world looks like, and how they live and operate.
It’s also important for me to connect with my heritage. As a 1.5 generation immigrant, my ties to Korean culture are weak. I’m looking forward to the learnings and challenges that will show up as I discover my roots. It’s why I’m starting my journey with a one-way ticket to Korea (with a long stopover in Japan). I’m open-minded to where next after that.
To stay connected to my passions, I launched a digital consultancy: Cause Digital. If you’re an organization in social impact, let’s chat about digital strategy, campaigns, and advocacy to amplify your cause. There’s nothing I love more than building and organizing communities through technology to create wins for the world. Reach out to leah [at] cause [dot] digital.
I’m excited to trial life as a digital nomad. I’ll miss my communities and loved ones in Vancouver but what a privilege it is to love and live a full life. And thankfully, the Internet is a thing! If you want to follow along my adventures, follow me on Instagram @leahebae where I’ll share my journey.
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