Go Mighty’s 31 Days of Inspiring Women, #2: Sonya Yu
Meet Sonya. Born in Beijing and raised in the San Francisco bay area, her path of constant self-discovery and exploration led her from the lifestyle she thought she should have, building a marketing career in tech, to the life she really wanted, as a freelance photographer and creative.
Read more about Sonya’s Life List, her decision to leave her tech career behind her, and the inspiration behind her goals below.
So, Sonya, what’s your story?
Born in Beijing and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, I am an offspring of two clashing cultures, both of which constitute the person I am today. Unlike most American kids, I spent my summer vacations in China, instead of summer camp; I spent Saturdays mornings at Chinese School, instead of watching cartoons.
The straddling of two worlds escalated my development of introspection and self awareness. Who am I? Who do I want to be? It wasn’t until I entered college and adulthood did I fully embrace both sides of me, and as a result, I burned through the haze and reinforced my foundation. Then, and only then, was I clear headed and strong enough to not only distinguish my dreams and passions but also boldly follow them.
I know you once worked in tech before making the jump into full-time photography. What sparked that decision?
I started out in corporate tech doing marketing and business analysis, assuming that with a degree in marketing, that’s where my future was headed.. However, as I continued to shed my layers and accept myself, I realized I was much more inclined to creative work than I gave myself credit for. With the strong support of my loved ones and a deeper understanding of self, I jumped into the freelance photography world and haven’t glanced back since then.
As a strategy to differentiate my brand in a saturated market, I have integrated my skill sets as a photographer and businesswoman by incorporating marketing strategy services along with my photographic offerings.
You’ve had a lot of success with your jump into photography so far, with almost 30,000 Instagram followers, a photo blog on Tumblr’s recommended blog list, and photos featured everywhere from the Huffington Post to Good Morning America. How’d you do it?
Hard work, unrelenting dedication, and my talented friends and teachers have helped me get to where I am today. I’m always on the hunt to cultivate my knowledge and craft, and I am never ready to settle.
Where do you want to go from here?
From here, I want to continue to learn something new every day. I am tremendously lucky to be surrounded by such accomplished, intelligent people who inspire me on a daily basis, and I am motivated by their ambition and creativity to pursue further growth, not only in my career as a photographer and marketing strategist, but also in my development as a genuine, caring person.
Tell us more about your List List. What inspires your goals?
My life list contains goals derived from my passions in life: photography, food, travel, and challenge.
Photography is my fire, my ambition, my momentum. It is a tireless medium that allows me to share my perspective of the life around me with the world. Consequently, I live with a strong desire to assimilate more about the nuances of this artistry and explore all forms of photography in my personal work.
Food is my mental and physical sustenance, my manifestation of love, my pride. It is an integral part of my every day life that provides me with an instrument to demonstrate my love to my friends and family. With so many different foods, cuisines, and cooking styles, I am endlessly stimulated to understand a culture and people through cooking. I don’t just cook delicious food; I endeavor to better comprehend people through their palates.
Travel is my revitalization, my reference, my joy. It is a contant reminder to keep my mind open, broaden my horizons, and to not forget the bigger picture in life. We are all so busy and distracted with the day-to-day, but travel prompts us to not get lost in the minutia.
Challenge is my catalyst, my green light, my zest. Life is full of them, and I aim to step up to each one with fortitude and ardor. In order to evolve, one must step out of his/her comfort zone.
Any advice for others on how to stay motivated/focused on achieving their goals?
To stay focused on achieving goals, I recommend surrounding yourself with those who support and inspire you. My friends and colleagues perpetually propel me to think critically of my work and actions, analyzing how I can improve, what I can do better next time. Also, don’t give up. I receive my processed rolls of film back that are misfocused, underexposed, and poorly composed, but I don’t ever view them as discouragement or failures. Rather, I interpret them as a lesson learned and a stepping stone to elevating my work, so next time, I will have refined a solution and won’t repeat the mistake. Keep growing, pushing, going.
Follow Sonya’s journey through completing her Life List here.
Want to make a Life List of your own? Easy—join the Go Mighty community here.