When I found myself laying broken, defeated, and utterly hopeless in September 2010, hot tears streaming down my face and wanting to end it all because I was living a life that was so unfulfilling and meaningless, I knew it was now or never.

You’re reading this because I chose to take the leap. To live my own life, on my own terms. And to never, ever let anything — or anyone — stop me.

My name is Nina Yau and this is my story.

I hope it inspires you beyond measure. My life is the legacy I want to leave in this world. And living it — boldly, passionately, authentically — is how I will lead by example.

Abbreviated Version

I’ve quit my corporate day job in November 2010 to make my dreams of being a full-time writer and artist come true after years of suffocating my inner creative spirit, and will be traveling to Taiwan and other Asian countries beginning in January/February 2011.

Long Version

I fully understand all too well the meaning of hard work. I’ve been working since the age of 12 at my family’s restaurant, thereby giving up any notion of a “normal” teenage existence, including Homecoming, Prom, movies and sleepovers. I would regularly put in 20-24 hours of work every weekend, on top of demanding schoolwork, athletics and babysitting my baby brother. This continued all throughout college and even post-college.

So when people say I’ve quit my day job because I don’t know what it means to “pay my dues to society,” they don’t know anything at all about me and what I’ve gone through in my life.

I was left by my mother for 4 years during my childhood and was raised primarily by my grandparents, after my father lost our home and was jobless for years.

Thus, my independent and fiery spirit is largely due in part because of my childhood experience of being on my own. With no other siblings to play with, I was left to my own devices. I delved deep within books, losing myself in the magnificent worlds in which reading can provide. An escape from reality, at times. I wrote every single day since the day I learned how to write. I drew, painted and colored every single day. I created art and was at peace with myself. No matter what happened to me, I thought, my art and writing was a safe place I could go to.

But as I grew older, I was told by well-meaning family members that this art I did could not be a career, let alone a successful one at that. Convinced they must know something I didn’t, I believed them and went into business school instead. Six years of business schooling complete with a Master’s degree landed me a coveted corporate position in the HR department of Walgreens, a Fortune 50 company in the United States.

But I quit that in November 2008, after 3 years of unimaginable stress, anxieties and overflowing work that I never could get caught up with.

I found myself applying for a barista position at Starbucks several months later. From high-paid business professional ordering venti lattes at Starbucks to minimum-wage barista serving up venti lattes. Life is ironic.

Pressured to get back into corporate life on a daily basis, I did just that, but knowing full well that my heart was not 100% in it. It never was to begin with.

And so I’ve quit yet again. But this time, things are much, much different. I’m living my life boldly, paving the way to my own minimalist freedom and inspiring others along the way.

I’m standing up for my right to happiness, freedom and peace. For one day, it will all fade to black. Before that happens, I never want to live a single day with regrets of a life I should have lived. Rather, I take healthy risks and challenges that will only grow me as a person, to fully be the person I was made to be.

Thank you for joining me in this journey, and I hope you will find what you’re looking for here.