I’ve battled many addictions in life. It often felt like I got addicted to things very quickly. Like an insatiable void that needs to be filled. Often, we fill those voids with productive things to do, like volunteering in church groups, neighbourhood activities and such. Unfortunately, those voids can also be filled negatively. I’ve experienced alcoholism and drug addiction. Empty holes that one can very easily slip into when you feel burdened by stress, worries and anxieties.
My journey into alcohol and drug dependency was not unique. I was a young man who was suddenly free in university in Miami. My Miami is very easily someone else’s Nairobi, or Mombasa, or Kisumu. Nightclubs, raves and quiet nights in the dorms can very quickly present opportunities to indulge yourself. And I indulged heavily. I paid little regard to the pitfalls of dependency; choosing instead to focus on the momentary ‘high’ that I got. The problem with chasing after that ‘high’ is just that – you have to keep chasing. To keep indulging repeatedly to fill that void that is missing in your life.
My recovery was heavily down to a personal decision, backed with a renewed faith in God. I realized the pain my ‘fun’ was causing those around me, and equally importantly, the pain it was causing me. And I realized that chasing after that ‘high’ was not honouring the life that I had been given.
If we each sat down on January 1st and looked at the amount of money we spent over the previous year on negative activities; drinking – smoking – other substances – immoralities, I’m very sure we’d be surprised at how much money that actually is. Imagine the possibilities we could have achieved had we spent even half of that money on trying to start a small business. On using it to give one of our dreams a start. I look at negative addictions very differently today. Imagine this. It’s your last day on this earth, you just don’t know it, and you choose to spend that day in a stupor because you ‘needed’ those drinks. What a sad way that would be to spend a day. I do not intend to say that all drinking is bad. I instead say that living life in a degenerative state is a waste of the life you have. As long as you have breath, you must look to grow.
You’ll find that the more time you spend on positive activities, like giving that small start-up some extra cash and time instead of financing negative voids in your life, you will grow a lot faster. You’ll be a more positive person to those around you, and you will attract success. Those who choose to fill their time with negative activities, no matter how ‘good’ those activities may feel, will keep chasing after just that. Live your life positively, don’t finance negatives, and you will see yourself grow – while saving yourself from a lot of the pits that you could have fallen into.
By Heshan De Silva
@HeshdeSilva is a Venture Capitalist and philanthropist, specialising in the infrastructure, tech and agribusiness sectors.