Dark Place

On October 14, 2018, the city of Louisville, Kentucky hosted an Ironman race in Muhammad Ali’s hometown. If you are not familiar with the race, it’s an event that can last up to 17 hours. In the allotted time, participants will swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run a marathon. After 13 hours, each grueling step caused my legs to ache, lungs to burn and my stomach to twist in knots. I came around the corner, shadowed by tall buildings and saw the promised land. It was beautiful! An incredible site to see, hear and feel. People lined the streets leading up to the finish line. The image of the finish line was the most glorious image I have ever seen. Then, the dark Louisville streets welcomed me back into their cold, hardened arms, reality set in fairly quickly due to having 13.1 miles left in the race.

It was at this moment, I reached my “dark place”. The last stretch of the race was littered with people emptied of energy and nutrition, in the dark frigid streets winding like a snake through Kentucky.

My dark place isn’t a physical location or a worldly place I can point to. But, it was located in my soul and buried in my heart and subconscious. By definition, it is where “a person goes after enduring an enormous disappointment of loss or emotional funk.” To me, I was in more than just a funk at this moment. I was struggling and devastated emotionally and mentally. My body was in excruciating pain and mentally distraught.

How often do we land in dark places in our personal lives or in the workplace? When we are at our greatest struggle, we perceive that we are met with insurmountable barriers. Within our dark place, we find the seeds of negativity, depression, anxiety and doubt. In my lifetime, I have had sandwich baggies full of seeds! Those seeds if left long enough will grow! Once they grow they can become issues that can have long lasting effects. Such as deteriorating relationships, altering your personality and taking you off your center. Plus, erode your creativity, innovative spirit, trust in others, connection and culture. The negative effects are too great and can impact our work with others.

We can find ourselves in a dark place when we struggle to understand our value and worry that we aren’t capable of being an added value to a company/organization. I have went through periods in my career where I hit patches of uncertainty and lived in dark places. There, I sulked for days on end. My dark places were born in the midst of tension, disagreements, competing factors beyond our control, lack of resources, deteriorating support, little time, student misconduct, fear, resentment, uncertainty, setbacks, disappointment, and failure. Shame is also an emotion that leads us to our dark places and creates a disconnection that can anchor us in the corners of our mind.

What do we do about it? Where do we go from here? With proper experience and skills, we will be able to move past roadblocks and best manage setbacks. Our dark places expose our vulnerability and can push us to deepen our commitment to understanding our calling and purpose. To help decrease the time within our dark place we must push past the uneasiness of uncomfortable conversations. We tend to avoid approaching our colleagues or speaking up because of fear of looking incompetent, wrong, or being misunderstood. I think it is human nature to be “perfect”. Such actions, hinder us from learning and growing. I highly suggest surrounding yourself with people that will snap you out of your pity party.


Lean into discomfort and embrace the suck. Identify your dark place and reflect on what landed you there. Be ready to own the actions that either created or….the dark place and prepare yourself to adjust and overcome. Lastly, above all…remember you have value.

***If you are in a dark place and need help. Don’t hesitate to reach out. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255***


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