apologies for my arrogance


My arrogance has prevented me from cultivating many relationships. Recently, I received a few emails from people I knew from school and university. They all shared with me the same message: they have all had, or had since quite a few years back dating back to university days been diagnosed with depression or other mental health challenges.

I never knew that, and I would not have even guessed. For one, I didn’t know what depression was and so even if I paid attention, I could not have been aware of the symptoms others exhibited.

However, the main reason was most likely because I didn’t pay attention at all.
Even if not overtly, inside I was definitely arrogant and basked in the glory of my achievements. Anyone who “couldn’t pull themselves together” and make the grades in addition to excelling in a full basket of extra curricular activities and competitions was a “loser” in my mind. They did not have the competence to multi-task and multi-achieve, and thus I was far more superior. I was too full of myself, my own perceived problems and my own conquests, to have any capacity to consider others around me.

Looking back, I realize I did not know how to make friends, or keep them. I thought meeting up for coffees and lunches were all there is. I did not care or ask the classmate sitting next to me for four years in university, “How are you doing?” Instead, it was a nonchalant “Hey” and a half-hearted acknowledgement when they responded. I did not bear in mind how my friends who had gone overseas to study were doing and what form of culture shock they might be going through. I spent too much time eyeing their Ivy League education with green envy.

I was overly guarded; worried that someone else might steal my grades, my awards, my scholarships, my best debater trophy, my job offers that I had to protect myself. I climbed the mountain on my own instead of sharing information and what I know so we could all do better. It was a constant battle. No one was unconditionally truthful and giving to anyone.

arrogance and humility, care for someone in depression, recover from depression

It was the same in the corporate world when I started working. Maybe this was why I could only pent up stress inside me for fear that others would mock me for not being able to cope and maintain my brilliance. Although I did not maliciously intend to hurt anyone or stir up politics behind people’s backs, just perfecting my responsibilities were not enough. We had to pre-empt to avoid getting hurt, thus one must protect, establish walls, and guard. I was thankful no one messed up my backyard, but when others had a cyclone go through theirs, what did I do? I pretended I didn’t see so I would not be curled into drama that would damage my reputation. It was self-preservation.

It was fear of losing. It was dread of being hurt.

No one gave to me, and I gave to no one. When someone gave to me, I received with utmost precaution and suspicion that there was a conspiracy I did not see.

For this reason, encountering the blogosphere was a refreshing eye-opener. Here, no one placed menacing German Shepherds at their front doors to conceal information. Rather the opposite, everyone gave. Through cyberspace and email correspondence I felt the sincerity these blog owners had. They had succeeded, they had help along the way, and now they want to help too. They want to help so bad it would pain them more that I did not sponge up their advice and suggestions to grow my blog than it would had their own blogs flopped.

I am touched at how kind the blogosphere is. It has massaged my wounds and assured me that there are good people in this world.

It might just be me being emotional but I can sense tears welling up my eyes. I feel absolutely sorry for not having paid more attention to my friends, my classmates, my acquaintances, my colleagues, and everyone else who have passed through my life.

I’m sorry I never cared. I’m sorry I never took the time to care.

Thank you to everyone who wrote to me and shared their stories, especially to those who I have known for so long personally, and yet, never took more than one look at you. Thank you to every blogger whom I have come to know (you know who you are!) well, sharing experience and just chatting.

I have been humbled.

I am sorry.

Is there someone you have overlooked today? Please share in the comments, and call them to show them you care.


47 Responses

  1. farouk says:

    i like the analysis you made nochnoch
    so insightful 🙂

  2. Ken Wert says:

    Noch Noch, You are without a doubt, a special spirit. I love this post because ot not only is spoken so sincerely from your heart, but it is so much more a reflection of each of us to some degree in some areas of our lives. We are all works in progress and to follow the work you do under the hood of your own life so openly here is heart-warming, inspiring, authentic, honest and beautiful. Life is about evolving into an increasingly beautiful soul. All the oversights, greedy, selfish little things we did and didn’t do is all part of the process. Recognizing it is the first step. I love your challenge to us to reach out to those we may have overlooked in our lives. I’ll definitely take this challenge to heart and see if there’s someone (or many people) I’ve failed to recognize or appreciate fully.

    Thanks again for the inspiration, Noch Noch!

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Ken

      Thanks for reminding me that life is a process, and that the oversights and greed etc are part of it, and that I have to go through it to learn and become a better person. It puts life into perspective instead of dwelling on the bad things I did. I must learn from it and move on. I appreciate that you take time to read about me here on my blog, my thoughts and all, and to also respond to it. And thanks for taking up the little challenge – I hope whoever it was took it well 🙂

      Noch Noch

  3. 黄关金 says:

    your english is really good, how do you learn it so well ?

  4. Josephine says:

    Thanks so much Noch Noch for caring to share with us your touching story. Everything happens for a reason, and it takes courage to break the cycle, speak up, and do better. As we travel, we stay connected with love ones letting them know how much we care about them, need them, and love them. Love ones are precious and our time with them are finite. You are an amazing spirit Noch Noch, and we are so grateful that you are sharing your gift of writing with us.

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Josephine

      Keeping connected with our loved ones is hard as we travel and move around, something that I need to work on. You point out well that our time with them is limited and we must treasure it. Thanks for coming by and sharing your thoughts here. I’m happy to hear you like my writing. Every little encouragement for me I put in a glass jar to remind myself and motivate myself to keep writing, especially on the bad days!

      Noch Noch

  5. veehcirra says:

    When we look back at the life we have lived. Sometimes it can hurt us really bad, when we realize just how off course we were. As long we learn from our mistakes and accept what happened then it gets easy to carry on with life.

    Noch Noch, let me share with you a quote by Maya Angelou, that came to my mind as I was reading this article.

    “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

    Now we know better, huh? 🙂


    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Veeh

      Ah yes – now we know better. And we keep doing better. Thank you for the quote. It’s so crisp but so true. Learning from our mistakes is the key, learning, and moving on
      Thanks for sharing your beautiful soul here!

      Noch Noch

  6. Your experience (and attitude) reminds me of myself more than 10 years ago. I used to work in New York City and I didn’t realize how full of myself I had become. Like you, I thought that whoever wasn’t ambitious and making their dreams happen was also a “loser”. I ended up hurting one or two people close to me. I realized slowly that not all people have the courage to do so. Most are governed by fear. We are lucky to be able to pursue our dreams and we just to have to be patient and sympathetic with those who want to “play it safe”. I guess we all make mistakes and continue to learn as we go along.

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi George

      Nice to meet you and thanks for stopping by. My fiance also told me to learn some patience and be more sympathetic – I used to lose my temper at bad service and yell at the hotel receptionists, waiters what not. My fiance said some of them have not had the experience I’ve had and I should not judge them. Depression has really humbled me in this sense, and allowed me to see more than just my little world and bubble. From your website and sound of things, seems like you have reached greener pastures and found what you love doing after NYC. So good to see that. Gives me more fuel to carry on!

      Noch Noch

  7. The Vizier says:

    Hi Noch Noch,

    Great post! Great picture of the sumo wrestlers btw. 😉

    I too have had familiarity with your thinking and experiences. When I was very young, I was very self-centred. I guess this is what all Aries have to learn. We have to learn to think of others instead of placing ourselves first all the time. But the good thing is that once we have realized our mistakes, we can change. Then it is just a matter of being vigilant so that we do not fall back to our own ways of thinking and acting.

    For me I used to give while expecting something in return. You should be familiar with this haha! But eventually, I came to understand what Kahlil Gibran’s Prophet meant by love. Although my greatest lessons in life came as a result of painful relationship experiences, I was able to apply the insights I gained to all other areas of my life.

    When it comes to giving and caring we should do so sincerely and wholeheartedly or not at all. We should give what we can and not more than we can manage because this will only build expectations and resentment.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article!

    Irving the Vizier

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Irving

      Haha – i know what you mean about giving while expecting something in return :p
      We Aries are quite self centered. I think partly because we want to do so much and so high energy that we forget there are others around, not in a bad selfish way, but that’s just the way we are sometimes. So I’m learning to be conscious of that and like you say, once we realize it, we can improve

      And yup, I like the sumo wrestlers. I had so much fun watching them in Tokyo!

      Thanks again for always leaving a comment on my blog!
      Noch Noch

  8. Amanda says:

    Hi Noch Noch, thank you for sharing your inspirational story with us. But, I believe that it’s never too late to learn from your mistakes. It’s better to learn a few years later than never at all!

    Btw, Veeh mentioned the quote by Maya Angelou and I totally agree with the quote: “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” Do what you think is the best everytime. And when you know more, you know the even better way, do it. And you’ll never go wrong!

    Cheers, Amanda

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Amanda

      Hello there! Happy to see you here. I’m still amazed at what you do with your blog. You sound so wise and I feel ashamed I’m only learning some of the things you write about given that I’m twice your age!! But age shouldn’t matter – it’s the attitude

      And yes, we need only to learn from our mistakes sincerely. Life goes on – better

      Thanks again for coming here

      Noch Noch

  9. Nigel Chua says:

    Hi Noch

    Hey everything has a reason, and everything has an element of cycle (time factor) in, perhaps in that season, it was a season of self-preservation (which is pretty different of being all high-and-mighty-arrogance, which doesn’t seem to be the case in your kind spirit).

    Perhaps you didn’t realize it, yes?

    I might not even classify it as mistakes, but perhaps, now in a way, you empathise and ‘mourn’ a little for the time and possible friendships you had ‘lost’ along the way…but it’s not too late, you’re still young. You can make a difference, the way you’re doing now.

    Reach out. Connect. Love.

    You’d be great! =D

    • nochnoch says:

      Hey Nigel

      Howz going? I like that little tag line towards the bottom “Reach out. Connect. Love.” Do you do copywriting as a side job? Haha, it just sounds like a great service / product tag line to use

      And you are right. I can still make a difference, now that I’ve learnt. Enough mourning…

      Noch Noch

  10. Hi Noch,
    Wonderful message you’ve got there!
    But who isn’t self-centered at least in our beginning? We are born believing that we are at the center of the universe and the world rotates around us.

    It’s only when we stumble and fall as we take our first steps, or as we begin to witness pain and suffering surrounding us, do we begin to understand that humility, love and compassion are the guiding lights in this life…

    Take care 🙂

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Vlad

      I do wish the world revolves around me :p
      but indeed it’s when we start feeling pain and it sends messages to us, that we know that the world is much bigger than we imagined. and it also says to me, my problems are not that much of a problem

      Noch Noch

  11. Therese says:

    Thanks for sharing your truth, Noch Noch. It’s beautiful– you’re beautiful.

    • nochnoch says:

      thanks Therese – what you do for others on your website is very inspiring and beautiful too, and loving that smile in the photo!
      Noch Noch

  12. […] this me? Sounds about right. Hugely competitive, and extremely impatient. Bossy and control freak to say the least (ask my […]

  13. Marvin says:

    Beautiful post NochNoch, and no doubt a cathartic one. For us to win, someone must lose. Someone must hurt. Someone must be made to feel subpar.

    In a world that’s trying its hardest to pit us against each other, the competition that truly matters is the one between who we are and who we want to become.

  14. […] for a Masters in Law degree while working full time. I was in my mid-twenties — my omnipotent, invincible years and at the peak of my career. I hosted a house party for friends just because I could and wanted […]

  15. You know, a difference I’ve noticed between living here in Huancayo and living in Canada is that people are not only more open here, but they also gossip more openly here. =) It’s painful to hear so often about abuse or death, but what’s refreshing is knowing about it and knowing the truth of life. We tend to hide things and keep to ourselves in North America — the consequence is that there’s this need for perfectionism because everyone else seems perfect.

    Thanks for such a humbling post, friend! I’m glad we’re part of each other’s online life! =)

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Samantha

      What a great point – we all try to be perfect and for some reason we think this is expected of us. So if we crumble, we hide, for fear of judgment and mockery. I’m learning to not hide anymore. I’m not perfect, and it’s okay!!! In fact, I’d be pretty boring if I was perfect, won’t have anything new to learn or experience!

      Thanks for coming by, and yes indeed, so glad to have “met” you online
      Noch Noch

  16. […] Forbes published an article I wrote  a while back on why I think Generation Y and Millennial are more prone to depression and anxiety issues. My umbrella argument was that we lacked a purpose in life and was too used to instant gratification. In response to this phenomenon, I suggested the way that we could avoid walking into that rut and one way was to increase our self-awareness. […]

  17. jim says:

    I am a grown, middle aged man. And this post made me cry. I am not kidding. This has to be one of the most genuine, heartfelt blogs I have read in a long long time. I too have depression, about 25 years now. I too remember well all the times I hid behind fear and arrogance and insecurities when people tried reaching out to me. It took a long time for me to forgive myself for that and treat people better. I have also known isolation so deeply it almost physically hurts. I suppose that is karma.
    Please don’t stop writing and growing and sharing.

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Jim

      I am very touched by your message and really appreciate you sharing your true feelings and experience with me. Your encouragement gives me a boost to keep writing. I am undergoing some mood swings lately and not keeping up with my blog, but I will keep writing. An I hope you will keep reading. Please take care and thanks again for beig strong for us

      Noch Noch

  18. […] a while, I prided myself as geographically mobile and open-minded. I wore expatriate like a badge on my sleeve. This […]

  19. […] wondered what I was doing. I had so much conviction that my path was the best: I had a luxurious expatriate package, and was on the road to vindication and victory once I obtained a Harvard or Wharton […]

  20. […] arrogance blinded me to their obligations of family, work, and finance — I took travelling for […]

  21. […] expert? And two, why do their opinions become the truth? Indeed, who decides the normative? Judgmental as I am, I did not come up with my own opinion. I followed the […]

  22. […] is not a crime, and certainly does not warrant a random lady with an upturned nose as me scolding anyone in public for something as trivial as mistakes on an […]

  23. […] why did I not listen to him? Arrogance. My self-presumed superiority over others, my air of arrogance over Timmie, and my preconceived […]

  24. […] some ways it is also my responsibility to express my feelings as much as their responsibilities in laying down prejudices and understanding that clinical depression is beyond miserly […]

  25. […] 我的自大使我無視了他們對家庭,工作以及財務的責任,並且我把旅行變成了一種假設。 […]

  26. […] In reality, there is no right or wrong; it depends which side of the fence we are on. Everyone has his or her stories, background, experience, and personal interpretations. I would not want to write off anyone. Depression taught me humility, bringing down my self-righteous pride and critical judgments. I am learning empathy and compassion, and to slowly dilute my arrogance. […]

  27. […] 福布斯雜誌刊登了我最近寫的一篇文章,文章談了為什麼我認為Y世代(Generation Y)和千禧年前後出生的人更容易染上抑鬱和焦慮問題。我的進一步論據是,我們缺乏生活目標並且太習慣於得到即時滿足感。對這一現象,我給出了或許能夠讓我們避免踏入那種糟糕境地的建議,其中一個建議就是提升自我認知。 […]

  28. […] for a Masters in Law degree while working full time. I was in my mid-twenties — my omnipotent, invincible years and at the peak of my career. I hosted a house party for friends just because I could and wanted […]

  29. […] this me? Sounds about right. Hugely competitive, and extremely impatient. Bossy and control freak to say the least (ask my […]

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.