Since starting Spread Hope Project, I’ve been asked this question several times. It’s a completely valid question, being that my goal is to spread hope. And yet, it somehow trips me up. Hope has always been to me one of those things that just is. It’s difficult to describe without using the word itself. And yet, to each of us, it most likely looks a little different.
In terms of spreading hope itself, my goal is to help people that are struggling to feel that something good, positive, or at least better than how they currently feel, is possible. When used in the context or mental health, it could mean that their depression can improve with proper treatment, or that they’ll find a way to work through their anxiety, able to manage it better, or simply that the anxiety attack or bout of depression won’t last forever. For others, it could mean learning confidence and improving their self-esteem when depression knocks it so low. For some it could have a broader reach – it could be feeling less lost in life, or less alone in their illness. It could be feeling like they and their life matter. It could be connecting with others who understand, who can offer support when needed, or who can help motivate and inspire them.
Hope is surprisingly tricky to describe in and of itself, I’ve found upon trying. It isn’t even, at least to me, a determined belief or strongly held conviction. It’s a possibility. A possibility that things could improve, that there’s something to look forward to. It doesn’t have to be based in fact or knowledge. It can come from a feeling, even a flicker of one. It can come from knowing that there’s even one other person who may understand, or one instance of feeling like you matter. It doesn’t require evidence or proof. You don’t have to know that something will happen to have hope. You just have to feel that their may be the possibility. At least that’s how it seems to me.
And so, in my efforts to spread hope, I try to work with both the details and the general feeling. At times, I speak specifically to mental health and chronic illness. Other times, I try to focus more on confidence or self esteem. Other times still, I try to simply let people know that, however they are feeling, they aren’t alone, and that they matter.