The Battles of 2016

Two suicides of good friends in a year probably should’ve broken me but it didn’t – I’ve learned to grieve fast and move on fast. That probably summed up 2016 pretty well. I’ve learned so well to disconnect, numb myself and ignore the swell beneath the surface I’ve kept paddling on.

2016 has been a year of highest of highs and lowest of lows. From the aurora borealis to receiving the news of Nic MacBean’s suicide, 2016 felt like a bullet train rushing from one destination to another, forgetting all my own wisdom and advice like the morning mist clearing every morning the moment the first ray of sun penetrates through the horizon.

Of hypocrites and trust
I’ve subconsciously filled my life with hypocrites, liars, haters, naysayers and fluff, the storm of it all clouded my views and rationality. I became them. I stuck to my insanely hectic schedule like a train who is rarely late to its station – I had bucket list to tick off, goals to achieve and wind to catch I packed my schedule tighter than my 3-week Philippines trip backpack.

Of extraordinary achievements
And it worked out, professionally at least – we’ve incubated extraordinary social enterprises like The Picha Project, Pantang Plus, Green Yards, GrubCycle, SevenTeaOne, Koya, Langit, Deliccia, Coffeezone, 1L Carwash, CarinMED and ChewWe who are making almost a million USD just within months, impacting tenth of thousands of lives. We’ve packed rooms full of investors, excited youth for our SEHATI 2016, and top-management of our partners to witness 5 outstanding growth-stage social enterprises we funded, and the Prime Minister announced Social Enterprise Certification and Procurement.

Of addiction and self-harm
In that constant addiction for groundbreaking social enterprises and achieving milestones for the sector, my work became me and I became my work. I started self-harming, piling on stress, making decisions that harm others and myself like smoking, and doing things I regret.

I’ve forgotten to laugh whole heartedly, love unconditionally and grieve from the deepest hole of sorrow, darkness and regret. I struggled to ‘feel’, and I started to think way too much.

Of smogs and mirrors
I am constantly reminded by others that I am probably the youngest Executive Director in a Government Linked Company, and without me realising, I am slowly surrounded by a crowd of people who all want a piece of me. In the big swarm, I was the bait and they were the prey, except there was no hook. I was drowning in smogs and mirrors, and so focused on chasing goals and milestones, I lost many of my own values. Once they have gotten what they want, they leave, leaving behind words of encouragement or hatred; whether authentic or not, did not matter to them.

Of heartache, heartbreak and tragedies
So here we are, at the tail end of 2016, and I was broken – when I reflected back on all my many imperfections and despair, how do I move on. As if there was a divine intervention, fiercely authentic individuals wrapped their arms around me and reminded me of me. To remind me of myself and my imperfections. To remind me to grieve, and to allow myself to hurt. Painfully. Badly. And to remind me that tragedies remind us that nothing and not a single day is promised.

Of vulnerability and apology
And when I am reminded again of the smogs and mirrors, or hypocrites and liars, I can easily let 2016 quietly pass-by. That I should always put on a facade, but it’s the fiercely authentic individuals who held me tight, reminding me that I too, am human. That our vulnerabilities and imperfections make us human. It’s wallowing in my own self-pity that I’ve learned to deeply, and meaningfully apologise to those I’ve hurt and harmed – there’s nothing more I can do to repair the broken bridge, unless both parties still see the importance of the bridge. Thankfully, there are many of them.

Of courage
So, in the past few days of introversion and locking myself out diving through wrecks and reefs, diving into books and articles, and diving into love and life, through my despair and grief, I am learning to love myself again. I’ve come to appreciate our grand achievements, my trips to see the Northern Lights and Auschwitz-Birkenau, love found and lost, trust broken and repaired, and my families both at home and at work.

More so, the easiest path amidst all these noise is to leave, but the brave thing to do is to stay. So, despite it all, while I sit here comfortably in my hotel room in the middle of Manila, I am making space for courage not fear, hope not hatred, and trust not hypocrisy. To let 2016 gracefully pass, together with all those who don’t matter – and surround myself with love.

Of 2017
So, here’s a commitment to start fresh, to not sabotage or harm myself and those around me. To love fiercely and authentically, and value my own love. To make space and time for all that.

And here’s to my families both blood-related and not who loved my deeply. And to Nic and Yvonne, who remind me that the world can be unkind and painful but they are so, so loved while they’re here physically and beyond.

  • Hermano

    Keep your head above the waters Ehon. You’re a good man, and need to surround yourself with goodness. Don’t let work and what you do define who you are.