The Nomad MBA has come to an end in a beautifully, cyclical fashion. Today, I fly out of our final destination, Vietnam exactly five months since I found out I was accepted into the Nomad MBA; since the unceremonious call at 5am in the morning from an unknown, British number; since my life took a crazy detour with this tribe.
I’m also leaving Hanoi, a place that has felt strangely familiar after my short visit earlier this year. I started the year in awe of the sense of adventure this country demands and a guttural desire to go lie on a beach, the stresses of work behind me. Being back now, towards the end of the year, I can’t help but see how this city, this country and especially Halong Bay continues to have a grip on my wanderlust and my dreams. It’s been the perfect bookend to what has been a crazy year.
I’ve already tried to put into words what the Nomad MBA experience has meant to me. From the moment I saw the ad for this crazy program, I knew that this was the start of something special and that I wanted to be a part of it.
Travel + study + a dedication to yourself and personal growth? What more could a girl really ask for?
But anyone can go on a meditation retreat, or even just to Bali to recharge. Anyone can go on a transformative trip and find space for self-care.
What made the Nomad MBA truly unique?
It was clear from the very beginning – at our bonding weekend.
It is this community.
20 individuals from all around the world, from completely different backgrounds and all with different journeys that had brought them to this point in their lives where they went fuck it and clicked on 'get invite.'
We all came lost but didn’t know what it was we were looking for. Maybe it was just a recharge, a sabbatical before returning back to our lives with a better perspective. Maybe it was to switch industries. Maybe it was even to pursue life as a digital nomad or entrepreneur.
No matter what, we all came with the intention of seeking a change – big or small, internal or external. And it is this commitment that will continue to strengthen these bonds wherever we all end up.
I am grateful for this tribe, for this family of lost and crazy souls. Thank you for the times that we’ve shared and the personal jokes you just had to be there for. Thank you for your passion, your love, for sharing that you too have felt lost. I have sought comfort, inspiration and courage in each of you.
But most of all, thank you to this tribe for seeing me, all of me and not just the me I thought I needed to be with you.
Halfway through this trip, I realised that I felt more lost than I had felt before I started. Wasn’t this trip supposed to fix everything? Wasn’t I supposed to be happy and free all the time?
I realised that I wasn’t just lost about who I wanted to be – but how that person fit into the world. How did I relate to the people around me – lift them up or bring them down When I could realise how people’s energies and ways of being that automatically radiated from them was able to affect me so much, what did that mean for how I affected them in the moments when I wasn’t ‘on.’
And there’s no better group to see that in you than a group of people like this tribe who have been with you through our crazy experiences and every emotional rollercoaster.
Somehow, they saw the person I always wanted to project but never felt that I genuinely was. They saw more potential and power in a girl when all I could think was how I could hide the fact that she might be fake.
I’ve spent much of my life thinking that I needed to prove people wrong – that I wasn’t an immigrant Asian stereotype, that I wasn’t just another feminist, that I wasn’t that young or that smart. I thought I had to be different people to others. I compartmentalised the parts of myself where it was convenient so I would never be misjudged nor underestimated. But I also found the easiest way to breakthrough all the misconceptions was slapping on a strong Aussie accent and trying to be the life of the party.
But this isn’t all that I am.
Sure, I am the girl that loves a good party and a bucket or two. I can’t even pretend that I’m not the small Asian girl who’s a little bit nerdy and geeks out over Harry Potter.
But I’m also a boss ass Beyonce bitch who gets shit done but does not stand for misogyny. I'm a basic bitch living the millennial dream and finding herself while eating avo toast through southeast Asia. I dance because it makes me happy and I thrive on an empty dancefloor. I am a social media marketer and a writer and a feminist. I’m even a little broken inside, a little dark and twisted, often masking my pain with alcohol and dirty jokes. I’m anxious and second guess myself.
I am all of those things but none of those things. The list will continue indefinitely because the best way to introduce me is just to say, I’m Tiff. And I’m still working on who that might be – or at least come to terms with the fact that I may never know.
This tribe somehow saw that, recognised that, had faith in her. I cannot thank them enough for that. This can all be summed up in one quote that was shared with me in a letter.
“There is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise…”