How It Started

How it all started

I was born in China and raised in Denmark, but I spent most of my childhood traveling and living all over the world due to my father’s occupation. One year it was Ukraine, another year it was Tanzania, and so it continued throughout elementary school, resulting in 11 different school transitions before reaching college, all of which were accompanied by 11 groups of friends and 11 inner circles. 

People and relationships have always been important to me as they shaped my understanding of myself, my self development, and the context in which I appreciated the world and its often contradicting values. I never considered whether I loved or hated all the transitions because it was just how it was, and so I adapted. 

To be able to connect authentically, it was crucial to fully grasp the local languages and mannerisms, so in every adaptation I optimized towards truly assimilating to every culture I was submerged in, and it was very rewarding when I succeeded in my infiltrations.

Yet, being a teenager in Denmark was not easy. The Danish culture is based in high-quality, but it is not necessarily accepting of the inhomogeneous, and resistance can be quite coarse and unpleasant. Though I spent a great deal of energy ascertaining what constituted cool and not cool, it was only when I really started owning myself that I was able to fully feel like I belonged.

I had to break out of my comfort zone in order to stand up for myself and what I wanted.

A lot of this process even happened after I left Denmark to pursue a career in Los Angeles. For every year that I was away, I somehow became more in touch with my Danish side despite my commitment to living in the US. 

Eventually, my fascination with people and human behavior had me complete a degree in Psychology, whereafter I once again packed my bags to migrate to San Francisco. Moving here was invigorating because the City merges so many interesting concepts in such a strange and unique way. The vast Californian landscape merged with the City’s bustling technology scene, sprouting new ambitious actors to contrast the chafed homeless population on the streets. 

Amidst all the bustle, I felt ready for my future yet surprisingly alone. I was in a relationship and had gained new friends, but I felt perplexed with how to motivate and inspire myself to go out there and reach my full potential. It was a strange feeling to be lost when everything was seemingly fine and under control. I kept trying to push away the sensation of restlessness and dissatisfaction and especially the guilt that came with it.

One day in early 2014, I attended a new friend’s birthday picnic in Golden Gate Park and met a small group of women, who seemed uncannily alike even thought they were from different parts of the world. We talked for hours about our journey and what we wanted out of life. The conversation went from light to deep to light again, and by the end of the day we laughed about how ironically difficult it was to find people like each other.

Why didn’t we have a group of dynamic women to spar with, learn from, and grow with; a group with whom we could have different kinds of conversations than those we had with partners and family members?

This momentary idea materialized and turned into an actual group, small as it was when it started. Then the group grew, the events evolved, and the vision started to become increasingly clear. The women who boldly left their comfort zone and who challenge it every day; the ones who are by and for others who stand up against the status quo; we need a safe place to adapt and continue our growth.

This is why YUNIKA exists.

Yuan NielsenYUNIKA