Hope Is Not a Waiting Game
"Hope is action: taking control of what I can, surrounding myself with people who will support me, and steadily marching through life no matter the clouds that loom above."
Guest post by Teen Advisory Group (TAG) member Lauren Cohen
Growing up with food allergies was rough, but there was always one mantra that got me through the hardest moments: just wait until high school. Friends go out to dinner without me because I can’t? Just wait until high school. Have to stay home from all the overnight school trips that are the peak of everyone’s middle school existence? Just wait until high school. Need to distract myself after eating because of anxiety? Just wait until high school. The doctors say it’s just until high school.
It turns out they were wrong. My food allergies ended up getting worse every year, and now I will soon be a senior with little time left to fulfill my mantra. High school was not the freedom run I always pictured it would be, but that’s ok. It’s been a learning experience instead. “Normal” was just never meant to be in the cards for me, but who wants normal?
After also being diagnosed with a chronic illness, it has been the biggest challenge of my life to understand what my future holds. That my skies will never be absolutely sunny. That I will never be in control of many aspects of my being. Some days are rainier than others, but a mist is always there.
After many cloudy days, I’ve realized that hope is a big word. It’s not a waiting game like I always thought it was. It’s not sitting around, biding my time until the sun finds me. Hope is action: taking control of what I can, surrounding myself with people who will support me, and steadily marching through life no matter the clouds that loom above.
If all I ever hoped for was better days to come and find me, to outgrow my food allergies, and for my chronic illness to disappear without a trace, I would never be happy. If I just recycled my mantra to be “wait until college,” I would never learn the lessons that chronic illness and food allergies were put into my life to teach me. That hope is always there, as steady as our heartbeat. It is always within reach, never lost or depreciated. And if we hold it close, we can use it to make the sun rise again. Plus, who knows? Maybe cures are on tomorrow’s horizon.