“sorry, i can’t do dinner, got a conference call / meeting / work…”


>Such was the reply I gave to my friends so many times in the last few years. Work came first. It kind of made me feel important too so perhaps that’s why I wasn’t too unwilling to stay behind for that conference call or to finish the excel spreadsheets.
My career seemed so much more vital than anything else that I would give up proper food at dinner and choose gulping down instant noodles at 11pm every night. I would change plans or not make plans for the sake of the work I had to do. At that point in time, it seemed so right. After all, I cannot complain, for I chose this life myself and made the decision to put my career first over everything.

But perhaps this is not the right priority list for me. Now I know. For one, there is my own health and well-being physically. And secondly there are my friends and personal life.

Friends – I wonder how many of them I have let down specifically in those few years. Those coffees and dinners I chose not to attend because I had work to do, or worse, blackberrying during dinner as they talked to me. Seriously, how annoying was I???!!!!

However, these dinners, in comparison, are easily forgiven when compared to missing one of my best friend’s wedding in the UK in 2007. I was supposed to be the Maid of Honour too! I so looked forward to it – I mean her getting married (but also being a bridesmaid haha), and yet in the end, I reneged on my promise 6 months before the wedding because I was changing teams and it was going to be busy, business trips, training, and all that. Thinking back and looking at my decision then with fresh eyes, I can only cringe at my stupidity. But I cannot regret. Then was then. Now is now. I just hope I have learnt my lesson and can choose wise next time round.

And how surprised was I to know of my friends’ experience in depression too. I never knew!!! Even those close to me. I remembered secretly wondering whether I was simply incompetent, or was I actually so engrossed in my own “cool” life that I was insensitive to the sufferings my friends were going through. Day after day since I started talking to people around me about my own experience, and to blurb here on my blog, many more friends have written to me to tell me what they went through. I was duped too, because they all looked so happy and strong on the outside. I should know better now having gone through it myself. There are no more excuses.

But if one blessing is disguised in this period of trial, and I’m sure there are many more blessings, is that this beast called “depression” has brought me closer to my friends, even to those I consider my best friends and soulmates. I would go through depression again 10000 times if this was the only positive I gained from it.

Nothing more important that those who stand by me, when I was proud as a peacock and strutted my thing, or when my pride was brought shattering down as I hid in the dark corner and cried.

The world will keep going around whether you are on that conference call or not, and the office will not melt down just because you have to leave the meeting early. Career is important but not that important. Perhaps one day when I’m completely rejuvenated physically and emotionally, I will return to the corporate work place, but by then, I should know how to answer dinner invitations: “will be there!”

7 Responses

  1. Shanti says:

    Wow… this struck me… and I have to send this to someone I love who forgot how important life outside the blackberry is. Great post.<3

  2. Jen says:

    ai… i too lost count of how many dinners / gatherings i skipped for “work”, when I was simply stuck in the office waiting for printer to turn the drafts… at some point, i started telling my dear frens and relatives i will be there if you see me there… i recently missed a good fren’s wedding… ARGH!

  3. nochnoch says:

    @Jen: well what do i say. i completely understand your life, but is it something you want? 🙂

  4. We often forget how important our health is. Only when there are diseases and conditions, we often notice that we have previously done something wrong.

  5. […] “sorry, i can’t do dinner, got a conference call / meeting / work…” […]

  6. […] “sorry, i can’t do dinner, got a conference call / meeting / work…” […]

about Noch Noch

Enoch Li, (pen name: Noch Noch) was born and raised in Hong Kong and Australia. She has also studied / worked / lived in the US, France, UK, Japan, The Netherlands, China, and has travelled to more than 40 countries. She loves travelling and her curiosity in foreign cultures and languages has led her to enjoy her life as an international executive in the banking & finance industry. However, she was forced to take time off work in 2010 due to her illnesses and after spending time in recovery, cooking, practising Chinese calligraphy, reading and writing – in short, learning to take care of herself and letting out the residual work stress, she has transitioned into a Social Entrepreneur and founded BEARAPY to help corporates make workplaces mentally healthy, and support executives to become more resilient.