It takes immeasurable courage to reckon with the dark aspects of yourself. It is the most important aspect of self-work an individual will do in their lifetime. The amount of human interaction serves as a playground between light and dark forces unraveling at every part of our lives. How and when those forces shows up in our daily practice varies considerably depending on the social context. Universally, educators experience triggers of light and darkness throughout our daily routines when interacting with other human beings. One of the most intriguing parts of working in education is the opportunity for impact; to witness the amount of learning and growth of a person, however large or small of a role you had in their journey. But, success is not a straight line and it requires an individual to develop the capacity to fail, multiple times, as part of their journey to success.
The research and best practices in all helping professions are increasing ten-fold to guide our practice and position ourselves to maximize student success and related transformation. I love the fluid nature between theory and practice as I allow space to incorporate both in my work with students and colleagues in the field. It is important to allow the research to guide our practice in order to help students know what to DO with their life and career goals, but the science of achievement is only half student success equation. There is a growing area of research and attention on the concept of holistic well-being and how the traditional notions of achievement are not always congruent with happiness. Understanding and incorporating the art of fulfillment with the science of achievement gives birth to personal transformation.
In Western civilization, our culture functions exclusively on work productivity, results, or the bottom line (finances). Devoting time and energy into those items is important, please do not let me underscore their role and importance in our lives. What happens is that the pressure to do/perform/be the best becomes the sole focus of our lives that we develop unhealthy relationships with ourselves and those around us. This starts at birth and has a compounding effect the older we get. We are often unaware of how much this pressure to perform debilitates us from the inside until it accumulates so much where a event throws you into chaos and the lasting impact creates a trauma-world you now live in. We develop an external measure in our determination of self-worth and identity. We begin to define ourselves by every thought or emotion we experience, not allowing ourselves the grace and forgiveness needed in order to hold that same space for other individuals in our lives.
Every person has to reckon with what is commonly referred to as the Shadow Self. Made popular by the world renowned psychologist, Carl Jung, the shadow self refers to the aspect of yourself that represents all the fears, insecurities, doubts, instincts, impulses, weaknesses or any other aspect of self that you cast in a negative way. The darker side of your psyche can look differently depending on your unique background and life experiences. We unconsciously shove aspects of ourselves down deep into your consciousness. We do this for a variety of reasons because they are too dark or scary to deal with. This begins at birth and as we begin to socialize into our world, we sort experiences, thoughts, and emotions into good or bad and rearrange our lives to only express what society feels is appropriate and hide aspects of ourselves that are inappropriate.
For too long, I deeply struggled with the trauma-world I still live in. It wasn’t until college when I began to reckon with my darkness that I carried with me. Healing from the forces that eroded my self-worth was the hardest, and most rewarding, thing I ever had to do. Everyone grows up around some form of trauma that has varying effects on your ability to emotionally and socially regulate self and navigate the world around you. I developed unhealthy coping mechanisms in order to survive experiences at a young age. My college experiences allowed me to develop some space between my life events, who I am, who I wanted to become, and what I wanted to do with my life. I allowed the environment I grew up in to define who I was and my self worth. I was consumed by the darkness of addicted parents, estranged sibling relationships, emotional, and psychological abandonment/neglect in such a way it felt like I was never “there”. The trauma my parents experienced in their own upbringing was deeply-rooted in how they carried and defined themselves. Trauma can be passed down through generations of family members without ever really having to deal with the collective pain.
The ability to recognize and address generational trauma takes an immeasurable amount of courage, bravery, and emotional agility. It felt like a tremendous weight and responsibility to carry the heartache, pain, resentment, anger, and other forms of darkness experienced by all members of my family. My growth, healing, and continued transformation continues to be informed by the experiences I survived growing up. I have grown leaps and bounds over the years through countless therapy sessions, self-care practices, and setting boundaries…all preparing me for my next level of growth. I am entering a stage in my healing process where I do not define myself by my past, but rather use the heartache and pain as a path of transcendence to my higher purpose. I made friends with my Shadow Self, began to reckon with the darkness of the world, and learned my role in overcoming my unique version of generational trauma. I’ve been writing a memoir that will take a deeper dive in understanding the lessons of my life and how it informs every aspect of my being as I progress into adulthood. But I leave you with the following closing remarks.
I continue on my road to healing, growth, and transformation. I had to learn how to develop capacity for my darkness and forge a positive relationship with it. I first had to acknowledge the mess that was my life. How was I able to overcome the damage if I refused to stand in my truth?
My darkness serves as a mechanism for holistic growth (social, cognitive, emotional, and spiritual) rather than an item of continued emotional turmoil and gross neglect. I now view the world as a mirror of self-awareness. A deep spiritual connection has developed because I now realize the intricate relationship between myself and other human beings. Wherever there is darkness in the world, including other human beings, I recognize and honor it’s existence and use it as a mirror of self-reflection. I want to live a life full of immense joy and beauty for myself and those around me. The universe front-loaded dark experiences into my life at a younger age so that I can prepare for an unimaginable life of success and related fulfillment. I want to bring as many humans with me who are also committed to leaving the world in a better place than when we entered it.
Every single human interaction occurs to teach me something about myself, reminding me of how far I’ve come or to bring awareness of a blind-spot I have yet to work through. I am ready to dive deeper into human experiences and live in harmony with the beauty of the world we live in. To live with courage and conviction in all areas of my life; and to help others do the same. Let’s dive, together!
-With much love and light!