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Take care of your mental health for a longer, happier life #HeshdeSilva


Today the world grieves the passing of a genius. Robin Williams. His films played a big part in many of our lives – mine included.

One quote has particularly struck me today. “Sometimes we give to others what we cannot have ourselves”.

How true that is. How we define happiness and how we achieve it is up to us – but it’s our decision.

We have some amazing young people in Kenya who inspire me. One is Sitawa Wafula. I met her last week for the first time and left forever changed. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that we aren’t perfect. There’s nothing wrong with having struggles and being open about them. Everyone is fighting a hard battle.

So I want to be open with you about my mental health issues. And what better day to do it than on the day when we celebrate International Youth Day, with the theme being ‘Mental Health.’

When I was 17, the girl who I thought was ‘the one’ turned out not to be. I turned to drugs, alcohol and became depressed. On October 20th 2006 – I tried to take my life.

When I was 19, I was looking for jobs with no success. No one would employ a college dropout like me. I felt worthless. Like there was no plan for my life. Being beaten by one rejection after another.

When I was 20 I decided having a ‘significant other’ in my life will help give me direction. Problem was I had no confidence in myself. The people I was looking at loved confidence. Naturally I was rejected repeatedly.

Then early this year, after having appeared on 2 Forbes lists, one CNN list and being named one of the Top 10 Africans of 2013 by Change and Revolution Magazine – I came across a new setback. People. People who I did not know criticising me, saying things about me. I just did not know how to deal with it positively.

Until I learned to laugh at myself. Not to take myself too seriously. To LIVE each day to be the best I could be.

In life we will be presented with many opportunities to doubt ourselves. Stay Focused. You are unique and you are wonderful. Embrace your quirks and your oddness – because it makes you, YOU.

In business, we embrace wealth and materialism. We look at the bottom line daily and glorify ourselves when we exceed expectations. I believe that is an empty life.

I’ve learned to find joy in doing the things I love. Whether it is working with my record label Motion Image and Sound, and the many talented artists we have in Kenya – to cooking with my catering company The Gourmet Nomads, to learning about farming with the hundreds of farmers we have in our network of farms.

Whatever it is that you love doing, do it. They say not everyone can be an entrepreneur. I say everyone has something they are PASSIONATE about. Now if you can turn that passion into a business, you ARE an entrepreneur.

But you’ll only ever succeed if you are open and honest with yourself. So go out and be you. Be the best you can be at whatever it is you want to be.

And remember, there is nothing wrong with saying you don’t have it all together. Because, truly, no one has.

By Hesh De Silva

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