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Who is your darkest teacher?

Who is your Darkest Teacher?

Cheryl Strayed, author of ‘Wild”, asked on a podcast I listened to recently “Who is Your Darkest Teacher?”, and it has been stuck in my head ever since. Of course, you could take it literally, but more likely your “darkest teacher” would be a life event, a person or a chapter in your story that may have been rocky and turbulent at the time, but taught you more about yourself and life than any amount of sunshiny, calm days ever could. Your darkest teacher often comes in a like a hurricane: the plot twist you didn’t expect that turned your life upside down and changed you in ways you could neither have imagined nor predicted. It could be the end of a marriage, grief or illness. Sometimes it’s a change of career, moving to a new place or the appearance of a person in your life who rides in on a dark horse and challenges your beliefs and values in unexplainable ways.

Life changes us. We are not the same people we were as children, or even as we were last year. Our traits might be the same: yep, we will always like choc-mint ice-cream and maybe we will always be a dog person, but the painful events in our lives push us to question our core identities and thought patterns, and ultimately lead us to grow and change in deep ways. We learn that we are capable of handling more than we believed we could, and hopefully become more understanding and less judgmental of others in the process. We learn to find our tribe: people that ‘get’ us and have likely been through a few fires themselves. Often, it causes us to have a heightened awareness of time as a finite thing: the awareness of our own mortality can be a positive perspective shift to make the most out of the short, sweet life we have been given.

The first part of our lives is spent creating ourselves, often shaped by whatever society thinks we should be according to the invisible yet very concrete rules we are conditioned to believe from a very young age. Our mid-lives are often spent undoing all of that and peeling off the layers to find out who we really are as opposed to who we were told to be. Major life events come like a lightning bolt that and shock us into that serious self-reflection, sometimes sending us to rock bottom in the process. The strength that we use to claw ourselves up from that rock bottom after those lightning bolts is where the magic is, and where the growth happens.

So, who is your Darkest Teacher?

“And once the storm is over, you won't remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won't be the same person who walked in.” - Haruki Murakami

Photo by Deborah Diem on Unsplash

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