Hope can keep us going when times are at their darkest, but in rare circumstances, hope can be detrimental to progress. Oh, how I know this truth well. I am a huge believer in hope; the eternal optimist most days. But, in this one case, hope broke my heart.
I grew up very religious. My childhood was spent in sunday school, Wednesday night Bible studies, Summer church camps, and Vacation Bible School. I was a hesitant believer in miracles and that good things happen to good people.
I grew up hearing church members coming together, laying hands on the sick, and praying for God’s miraculous healing. After years of hearing this, I truly began to believe that it could happen for me and my genetic condition.
Sure, to some of you this thought sounds ridiculous, but to a young impressionable girl who knew nothing but religion and the church, I began to believe. I began to hope. Most of my life, I have wanted nothing more than to see like a normal person.
It Broke My Heart
So, I believed for a while that my very permanent eye conditions could be cured by God if I prayed hard enough. I wasn’t the only one who fed into this belief though. Others prayed for me and my “healing.”
I think people tiptoed around the topic a bit though, because no one knows how to tell a young legally blind girl that she can’t be cured, that she’ll never be cured. I appreciate that sentiment now, but I had no idea back then.
So, young me believed I could be cured for a while, and this belief really spiraled me into a pretty serious depression. For several years, I lost my sense of self and my sense of purpose. Other circumstances also contributed to this period in my life, but it began with my hope for a cure and loss of that hope.
When Hope Sours
So, why is hoping for a miracle cure detrimental?
For one, hoping for something that is truly unattainable is unrealistic. It’s bound to end in heartbreak because it is a goal that can never be fulfilled. As we hope for something, we generally make future plans around that goal. I know I certainly do in a very big way. Once that hope is lost, all those plans surrounding it fall apart, and it feels like a huge loss and begins the grief process.
Hoping for a cure takes value from a person’s existence and experiences. Hoping for a cure when there is none will stop you from accepting who you are: challenges and strengths. After losing my hope, I certainly felt lost, alone, and purposeless. I believed no one could ever love me, because I couldn’t see my own value or love myself.
Hoping for a cure halts progress. If I’m busy hoping for some goal I can never achieve, I will never let go and move onto an achievable one. Much like the previous point, setting an unattainable goal keeps you from growing into the person you’re meant to be.
We’re all meant to be uniquely ourselves with individual strengths and challenges. The sooner we can embrace those challenges as a part of ourselves that are neither good nor bad, the sooner we can take those challenges and find ways to work through and around them.
How to Recover without Losing Yourself
Coming back from the loss of hope or from a goal that has gone unrealized can take time. It truly is a grieving process. Let yourself feel sad, angry, lost, and anything else that you’re feeling. Take time to appreciate that you had an image for your life that is now gone. It’s okay to mourn.
I have mentioned the importance of a support system so many times before, and that is crucial here too. You need to find that friend, parent, sibling, counselor, or whoever you can trust to just listen to your story and your pain without judgment. Places like Instagram and Facebook have communities full of people who once hoped for a cure and were heartbroken to learn that it did not exist. Reach out through one of these networks and find your people. They are out there.
So, where do you go next?
Finding Self-Acceptance After the Fall
Learning to love yourself is a lifelong journey. We’re all faced with social media, television, movies, and other people giving us the idea that we are not good enough unless we’re doing this thing or that thing or unless we look or act a certain way.
It takes time, but we have to learn to place more weight on our own inner voice rather than the many voices of other people. Only you are living your life with your experiences and within your own circumstances. No one else can do that.
Once you learn to listen to your own inner voice, then you have to learn to talk to yourself in a healthy way. If you don’t learn to talk respectfully to yourself, how can you expect others to do the same?
Learn to Talk to Yourself in a Respectful Way
Be aware. Pay attention to what you’re telling yourself. Learn the reactions you usually have when you see photos of yourself or when you see photos of others and start comparing their life to yours. Make a note, whether mental or physical, of those things you say to yourself.
Stop comparing yourself to others. Social media is where most people post the edited version of their lives. It’s not the whole truth, so we shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to someone else’s half-truth. Remember that as you scroll through your feeds. Unfollow those who make you feel like you are less, and stay aware of the times when you find yourself comparing your life to someone else’s.
Find the things you like about yourself. Take time to look within and find the things you like about yourself. It’s sometimes painful to look beyond the surface, but the end results will be worth it. If you need a friend, family member, counselor, or some other trusted person to help you, ask for that help. You’ll find that once you start listening to those compliments others offer, you will begin to see yourself in a fresh way. Sometimes a change in perspective is enough to jumpstart a change within.
Remind yourself daily of those things you like. Once you’ve began to look at yourself in new ways and you’ve found the positive aspects of yourself, you need to remind yourself daily. New skills and good habits take time to develop, so make that commitment to yourself. Take that time every day at your mirror or before you get out of bed or as you get ready for the day to say those good things about yourself. You are worth it.
In conclusion, I want to clarify that getting treatment or help for your particular condition or disorder is not the same as hoping for a cure. You have to do what it takes to work through or around your limitations and challenges.
Albinism does not have a cure, and because my optic nerve is not properly developed, I don’t believe anything can be done to fully correct my vision. These facts are the reason that hoping for a cure was so detrimental to me.
Stay curious, guys. Thanks for reading.