Ponderings from 30,000 feet in the air

­­My commute home from “the big smoke” transitions from tall buildings to scaffolding, before they give way to the trees of suburbia standing their ground against development. On the train home one Friday night I missed the usual view for the words I held in my hand. ‘From Despair to Hope’ by Professor James Arvanatikis (2016) stabilised the quivering flame inside of me. We all have these moments from time to time, but sometimes it lingers longer than we would desire.

To those who follow my Instagram, it would have become apparent that over the past few months I have not been okay. Anxiety is experienced by everyone at some point in their lives, but sometimes its hold is more difficult to shake. It is not something I can fully explain as everyone will experience anxiety differently. I know only my own experience and that is that it hit me like a tonne of bricks. A number of factors have contributed to this. I have been working hard to embrace the lessons that come with familiarising myself more with my monkey brain and to make necessary behavioural changes to habits.

The world can be a viscous place and my passion often exhausts me.

As a cloudy morning enveloped my mind, ‘From Despair to Hope’ reminded me to choose hope. I picked up those words, this time on my commute to work as a reminder of the feeling it first instilled in me. Through fostering a culture of hope we can build trust and with trust we have the potential to collaborate on creating a better future. Hope can get us through the everyday, but it can also see us exploring uncharted territory.

‘From Despair to Hope’ explores what it means to have hope at a time when the world is ‘being engulfed in terror and conflict.’ It opens with a contextual overview of recent acts of terror and detention centres, before diving into an understanding of trust. I concur with Arvanitakis, trust is something that, ‘if it is openly shared,’ society should aim to have an abundance of [p15]. Elements of society, such as sitting on public transport, civic engagement and democracy itself, rely on us having trust in strangers. Whilst some individuals may experience unimaginable circumstances that deem it difficult for them to trust others, it is important to put those circumstances into perspective. It isn’t a far reach to say global events are undermining the trust we place in strangers, leading to distrust and ‘a growing sense of anxiety [p18]. This is why Arvanitakis asserts that to choose hope is an active form of resilience [p24].

Some moments cannot be explained, only experienced. As I flew home from Melbourne having completed the Foundation of Young Australians Young Social Pioneer program, I was filled with mixed emotions. On the one hand I am full of sadness that I don’t get to come together with these change makers once a month anymore – at least not in the way this program facilitated. On the other I am incredibly proud of myself and my fellow change makers, who fill me with hope.

The whole experience extended the elastic limit of my comfort zone and challenged my thinking.  YSP took a holistic approach to entrepreneurship, seeing professional development as part and parcel with personal growth. What an experience it was to share with twenty-nine other young people.

I am all about the little moments, the ones that shape who you are and reflect who you can be. Moments I had otherwise been missing because I was suffocated by my passion. Moments like deep and meaningful conversations in McDonalds, eating dumplings on the couch like siblings, sharing the hoop love in Federation Square for Unleashed, hooping in laneways in the pouring rain, singing before pitching, hugging out the tough days, hugging out the good days and the feeling of not wanting to go to bed, because you know when you wake in the morning everyone has to fly in separate directions. It sounds like we didn’t do much work, but I assure you we did. Sharing these moments after only meeting three months ago is a level vulnerability I don’t recall sharing before.

When I look back on my YSP experience I am overwhelmed with emotion and fond memories. This is my tribe. They get me and they back me free of expectations and I them. We aren’t afraid to challenge each other’s ideas, and that is most crucial if we are to be change makers. Whilst we may be sprinkled across the country I am filled with hope. From our pockets of the world, our combined efforts are contributing to a better tomorrow; the world we want to see for the prosperity of all.

Some moments cannot be explained, only experienced. As I continue to process my learnings and put them into action, I encourage any young entrepreneurs to consider applying for the 2017 program. You will not be disappointed.

At the conclusion of ‘From Despair to Hope’, Arvanatakis shares with us three examples of hope he found in his students. Individuals who, driven by their own lived experience, seek make the world a better place. It is my intention to start making time to share the stories of those who fill me with hope, not just in the arts but across sectors.

Innovation doesn’t happen in isolation.

Together let’s choose hope.

Young Social Pioneers 2016: Sydney and Melbourne cohorts come together

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