What harm can hope do?


Last year I made a video with a local charity about my experiences with anxiety. At the end of the video, I said five little words that caught everyone’s attention. Since then I’ve had press, politicians, and mental health professionals tell me what those five words meant to them. Those five words were “what harm can hope do?”.

Here’s the thing; nothing is guaranteed. As the saying goes, yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery. We have nothing except this moment. Our lives could be turned on their heads in a second. So we have to hope for the best. When we go to the Dr, we hope for the best. When we sit down to do an exam, we hope for the best. When we’re traveling, we hope that our luggage won’t be lost. When we get bad news, we start hoping for best-case scenarios. When we start therapy, we hope that there’s a finish line in sight, that we’ll walk away feeling better than we did when we first sat down in the waiting room.

Recently I made the decision to try to make my own website sustainable. Writing is what I love, but I spend so much time writing that I don’t have the time to get a “real job” – if you’re in school now, you’ll come to hear that term a lot over the next few years – so I have to figure out how to make my living doing what I’m already doing. It’s not an easy task, even when surrounded by people who are in the best position to advise me on what to do. So I have to hope. I have to hope that I’m doing the right thing.

Nearly three years ago, I took an overdose. By the time I realised it was a mistake, I couldn’t move to get help. I had to hope that I would wake up the following day. I had to hope that I wouldn’t be remembered for that mistake. I had to hope that I would instead be remembered for the things that I would do when I woke up and recovered from that mistake.

So not only is hope the reason that my website exists, it’s also the reason I’m still here today. It’s the reason I get up every morning. It’s the reason I replied to the email inviting me to write for this website.

Hope is the only reason any of us ever do anything. Even that overdose that I mentioned, I did that hoping that I wouldn’t wake up. My hope just shifted a little when my perspective changed and I realised what a massive mistake I was making.

Nowadays, when I look at people, I wonder what they’re hoping for in that moment. Are they hoping that they remembered to turn their iron off before leaving the house this morning, are they hoping that they’re going to make their train on time, are they hoping that a loved one recovers from illness?

In a world of hurt, it’s more important than ever that we hold on to hope. For example, right now I’m hoping that this piece makes sense. I could just accept that my head isn’t where it ought to be right now, but instead, I’m hoping for the best possible outcome. I’m hoping that when you read it, you’ll walk away having taken something positive from it. I’m hoping that my trip to England next week goes smoothly. I’m hoping that I’m going to have time to get euros before I go to Germany in two weeks. I’m hoping. That’s all I can do.

There’s no point in worrying or stressing about what the future holds because all that serves to do is make you anxious. So it makes far more sense to hope because hope never did anyone any harm.

So tell me, what are your dreams? What are your fears? Most importantly, though, what are your hopes?

You can get in touch and tell me here.