Looking ahead in the New Year, where can we find hope? The times are dark. Our country seems more divided than ever. Words of anger and hate fly across the divide. Every day something appears in the news worse than the day before. So, where do we find hope?

It’s closer than you think, right there in the very search for hope that is in each one of us. The hope for hope is hope itself. We wouldn’t even be looking for hope if we didn’t have the hope of finding it. It is there, lodged inside you, along with unacknowledged power.

Dark times can make us feel fearful, even helpless. Yet that same fear can be our friend. It can signal us to look within. There we can see how we limit ourselves by conforming to restrictive stereotypes of how women should be and should behave. We can recognize how we often stay silent rather than speaking out and risking offending others. Or we accommodate others rather than standing up for ourselves. In the wisdom of experience we can speak our minds for the benefit of others.

Looking back at our own past can help us rise into the future. Where have we already used our power? Those experiences, even the smallest ones, are a platform for rebuilding hope and self-confidence. Perhaps we have reached out to a stranger; tried a recipe with an unfamiliar ingredient; applied for our first job. Even memories of “failure” can offer a moment to acknowledge our power to survive. We have the power to stand up again and move forward. Acknowledging that power can give us hope.

At the same time that we look within, we can find hope in the world around us. The natural world, quiet in winter, rises again in spring. Inspiration lies in the examples of women like Stacey Abrams, who lost a gubernatorial race. She turned around to found “Fair Fight” to protect voters’ rights. Or Greta Thunberg, a teenager, who challenges world leaders to fight climate change. Inspiration even lies in the toddler who falls again and again and again while learning to walk.

We were once that toddler. We have the power to stand up against the dark times, to take those first steps. We can join our light of hope with others. We can wake the world to a new day in this year of 2020.