No Detour: Entering the Dark Forest of Life

Midway through our life is a dark forest. If you have not arrived yet, enjoy where you currently are on your journey. You will arrive there eventually. There is no detour.

We all find ourselves through dark woods and will inevitably stumble upon unknown territory.

I never knew that I would stumble upon it. As a 30-year-old man, I authored an international best-selling book, host a syndicated radio show, and contribute to many prolific publications, including The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur and Inc. Magazine. 

The day of my book became #1 in Mexico made me feel like I reached the finish line. There is nothing fulfilling than setting a great example to people inspired by your life journey.

My publisher did very little marketing and tasked me with the job to do the other 90%. With the tireless marketing efforts from pre-launch and post-launch, I felt like a marathon runner crossing the finish line and descending to the ground to surrender to my body's need for rest.

I spent a few days to celebrate my accomplishment by reliving that moment over and over again. I must say it is one of my biggest accomplishments so far in life.

As a child, I did well in elementary and secondary school. I made the honor roll and won a few awards. When I was a teenager, I did not find it so impressive as I knew thousands of American kids probably achieved such a status too.

After graduating from high school, I became a student at Penn State University. Honestly, I wanted to participate in all of the naughty things of a college experience - promiscuity, getting stoned before class, and partying like it is 1999. I was not much interested in doing more studying. After all, I have already been doing that for the last 12 years. I did not say that to my elders but instead projected my false self to them.

Before you cast judgment, it is very likely that you still carry your false self along with you. The false self is the self that you project to the public. 

Perhaps, you may argue that everything should not be shared with the public. You have a right to withhold information from people, but you will fail to be transparent with others. You can be authentic without being transparent. Although, transparency displays the best form of authenticity.

As I entered college at the age of 17, I felt that it was necessary to project the false self to others because I was not comfortable with myself. The false self was my detour from dealing with my own issues. I told my elders that I was attending college for the same reasons that they encourage other young people to do so. Perhaps, your elders gave you the same advice too.

A college degree is a sure way out of the ghetto. I start attending college several years before the Great Recession. Unfortunately, many graduates (including myself) completed college during the onset of the recession. The bad economy crippled many graduates from securing those expected positions at the big corporations. This year is no different. There are a few exceptions, but a bachelor's degree is the new high school diploma.

Unfortunately, the detour presented by my false self resulted in the same outcome. 

So, the dark forest can be the hopeless college graduate looking tirelessly for a career that pays off their student loan debt. The dark forest can be the author seeking to recover from losing almost everything in a house fire. Midway through our life is a dark forest. The midpoint differs for everybody depending on your time of existence.

We cannot detour to avoid the dark forest, but we can learn a lot by spending time there. The dark forest can produce many emotions within us, but we can make a conscious decision. A conscious decision to use this experience to increase our emotional intelligence, so we can reach the finish line.