Today, I'm writing for the long ago, lost and lonely little version of Kate. She still exists somewhere inside me, because I don't let her go, even though her fear can sometimes become a part of my current fear.
But, I don't let her go because we both need each other.
I don't let her go because recently, I've been able to show her things she would have loved. Things that she would have cried happy tears of disbelief to see herself doing.
I don't let her go because it's really special to be able to befriend a version of yourself who you once didn't get along with, and who you didn't value as much as you deserved and needed.
Today, I'm writing for the lost and lonely little version of Kate because she didn't understand how to find hope, and I'm able to explain a version of that now.
At the start of a new year, the past sheds light on how we think about the future. As I consider this light, I'm seeing that (no matter what your feelings are about that past), it is an important part of looking ahead.
When we can look at our futures with hope, we're able to see a possibility where we will have a life that feels full, and full of freedom. But how can we actually choose to do this? Where does hope come from? When I was experiencing struggle to such extents that I couldn't find the confidence to look ahead, I was told that confidence is built from doing things you find to be difficult. Thinking about that now, I see there's lot of truth in it. I see that confidence is about proving your own courage to yourself. This has helped me to see that hope, confidence, and courage are a grouping whose individual vitality depends upon each other's presence.
It takes a lot of courage to have hope. It takes courage because hope is something that we look towards. As we consider the unknown, a level of bravery is required. It's about looking towards feelings and events that haven't existed for us yet. Our perspective of how these might form depends upon what we've already known in the past. If hope exists to links us to a prospective future, then confidence is its equivalent that links us to the past. Everyone has elements of their past that reach forwards and provide us with reasons to either restrict, or open up our abilities to be hopeful. This depends on what we've known in terms of times that felt easy, and times that we struggled. What I've been realizing lately, is that both can be the foundational material of courage, and that means that both are good.
If we think about things like success and happiness as products that grow from seeds that we plant with our abilities and hard work, then we see that time is the ingredient that causes them to grow. We also see that this process happens beneath the ground, unseen. When we're working towards something positive, often all progress is invisable. This is where we have to think of hope as an investment. The belief that goodness will come, with time.
This is the aspect that makes it a lot easier to grow hope out of easy and positive past experiences, than out of challenging ones. When examples of success and happiness have occurred in a way that was easy, hope is plentiful. We look back at what surrounded us at that time and see how we planted in an ideal environment–surrounded by sun, warmth and care. But we all know that isn't always the case. All of us have also known environments that seemed too bleak and barren to plant seeds of hope. Here's where courage comes in. In times like that, we must be able to believe that hope can grow and spread. Even when we can't see it, even when there’s no proof, and even when there's no energy to plant anymore.
Hope requires courage because it can be extremely difficult for us to trust in that necessary ingredient, "time". When we struggle, we often hear advice like– “Just wait. It will get better." or, "Good things will come”. But we all know that that's extremely hard to believe. This is because we can’t trust the thought process indicated by just those words. To someone looking at a barren, frozen ground, there doesn’t seem to be any logic to waiting. If we feel that our surroundings won’t allow growth, it seems impossible to plant hope. With this perspective, "Just wait" isn't enough, because time already seems an enemy.
It is here that we need to acknowledge that there is more to hope than "just waiting". When things seem really and truly impossible, we need to be able to grow something from the inside– no matter the external surroundings. Somehow we need to have the courage to build hope with nothing to plant, except time.
Time can seem an enemy, something to fight against and fear. But it’s also on our side more than we know. When we invest some trust in having patience, time can be a friend. This trust is an investment in ourselves. It comes from an inner belief that there is good in ourselves even when we feel unable to create good outside of ourselves. It’s the courage to believe there is already worthiness within us, no matter what. This is confidence.
Confidence comes from the knowledge you have done difficult things before. Confidence grows when we can look back and see sources of indisputable proof that our own abilities have already produced greatness. It’s really hard to have hope when you don’t feel good things have happened to you, or you don’t think you’ve done good things yourself. If you happen to be someone who's really struggling to find any source of hope, confidence, or courage– here's what I learnt about building those up.
No matter how much hope, confidence, or courage you do have, I think it's really important to encourage everyone to invest in seeing your goodness. Invest in celebrating every victory. Appreciate each tiny good thing you do, see and experience. These will become crucial foundations when you need to look ahead into a future where time seems to be your enemy. These small victories will feed you the strength that you’ll need. It’s not always easy for any of us, and we need to be able to look back and latch onto facts of our own strength.
Hope is built when we can look ahead and see that hope has always been there, all the time. It’s about using optimism for the future to appreciate the path you’ve already walked. It’s about realizing that all success is built in a long-term constant process that isn’t seen.
This is also a reason to go out and seek out challenges. If you are apprehensive about something that seems to stretch your mind, abilities or comfort– something that you would really love to see the rewards of on the other side. Remember that whether you succeed in getting to the other side or not, choosing to tackle those inner barriers will grant you even more stability for next time.
I never saw hope growing, but time has allowed it to get stronger. Now when I look back, I get to know that I would be proud of myself. As I keep that old self with me, I get to show lost and lonely little version of Kate that things are okay. The instances she's encouraged by are all small. It isn't huge, concrete versions of graspable success that she needed to cling onto– but the opposite, just a few tiny fleeting moments of lingering contentment. It's being able to celebrate moments where I can be someone I never thought I could be– myself.