Written by: Ignacio Rodriguez

Six months ago, I was accepted as a Yunus&Youth 2019 Fellow. Last month, I had to announce that I would not be able to complete the fellowship. I failed in delivering most of the curriculum activities and lost several opportunities including the support from two mentors and a chance to have my project reviewed by a pitching panel.

This year has been tough. I lost a dear friend to cancer. My country stagnated, again, into a terrible dictatorship and tragedy. Epix, the organization I founded is broke. I’m also broke. The length of this paragraph doesn’t do justice to the emotional, physical and mental toll each one of these episodes has had on me.

I’ve collapsed into depressive states (I call them sad moments) several times. I deal with anxiety and loneliness. This hasn’t been the first time, nor the first year it’s happened. These moments have grown in complexity.

This year has also brought wonderful highlights. Joining Yunus&Youth. Attending the World Merit Summit and the Global Youth Summit surrounded by young people’s love, passion and sincere concern for the world. Epix was chosen as a finalist at the Better Together Challenge in Korea and the International Youth Foundation chose Epix for an Alliance of organizations working towards the SDGs. Lastly, I was cast to join an improvisational theatre group. Each one has brought me much joy, laughter, and love.

It’s hard for me to describe episodes of depression or anxiety. Feeling sad, down or anxious hardly makes sense and reasoning get distorted. I’ve felt empty, apathetic and simply put, very tired.

These sad moments have shadowed many of the wonderful highlights, places, and people I’ve shared with. They’ve also had an impact on my “performance” as a social entrepreneur and team leader.

Just like muscles strain from asking too much of them, the way we lead our work and life strains. And just like muscles, they need time to heal when ruptured. We have a nervous system that warns us when a muscle needs healing. Our mind doesn’t seem to have such a clear defense mechanism.

Entrepreneurship can often be isolating and lonely. My stubborn attitude often makes me upset for not getting over these episodes. Although this has been a particularly eventful year, I don’t think what I’m going through is unique, and I believe many can often feel and experience the same way.

Last week in my speech at the Better Together event I stated that I listen to other people for a living. I realize now that the person I need to listen to the most is myself. I need to heal. I need to take care of myself.

My passion and drive aren’t going away anytime soon. But I know that I’ll continue to fall unnecessarily hard if I don’t come to self-understanding and balance. Seeking professional help and talking to the people that care about me is helping. This video has also helped.

Time to get up, dust off and heal.