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Finding the Needle of Success in A Haystack of Failure

Updated: Mar 6, 2020

The following is a piece written by one of our 2020 contributors Christian Downs. The contributor’s column this year is dedicated to stories of transformation. Please click the link at the bottom of the page if you are interested in participating.


In life failure is inevitable in my view it’s odd to envision my life without failure, in fact, my life began with failure. The funny thing about failure is that, sometimes, we have no control over whether we succeed or fail and in my case, as an infant, my brain decided to fail, leaving me with cerebral palsy and epilepsy. According to most people, including the doctors, I wasn’t meant to accomplish anything; I wasn’t meant to walk, talk, or write. This wouldn’t be the first time I would have to make the best of a really bad situation.

From rough beginnings, I had to push forward with a body and mind that wanted me to fail. All through my formative years, I had to battle mental and physical failures, ironically, it wasn’t these hurdles that were hindering my track to success and it wasn’t until I got to high school that I realized what was truly holding me back and it’s something that I know a lot of people struggle with and struggle to talk about, and that’s depression. I failed at finding a successful relationship or a friend group that I could truly relate to, and I blamed all this on my disabilities.

At seventeen, almost eighteen years old, I had no confidence, no self-worth, and no will to live. Even though I was succeeding academically I considered my journey a failure because I had no one to share my successes with, outside of my immediate family. In my view, success means nothing if you have no one to share it with and I was starting to feel like I would never know success. At this point, I was at my absolute lowest and it was there that a close friend introduced me to the person that would turn my life around forever and her name was Sarah. It was with her that I felt most at home, I was able to share my successes and failures with her; I had someone to build me back up to who I was when I was younger, someone who was determined and more importantly someone who could accept failure.

This relationship led to some of the most pivotal points in my life, from extremely high highs to extremely low lows this shaped my life path into what it is now and who I am today. My biggest struggle with failure was just figuring out who and what I wanted to be after two years of college I graduated from community college and made an attempt to go for a four-year degree, unfortunately, I failed. This was probably the biggest failure in my life and it was an extremely difficult one to process. I would’ve been the first person in my family to receive a bachelor’s degree and I failed. I wasn’t sure where I was going to go from there and it took me a very, very long time to figure out what the next step in my journey was. For a while, I checked out, feeling defeated, whether it be my fault or that of the circumstances, I failed. I couldn’t find where the success was, I just couldn’t find it. After almost two years of battling this mentally, and physically I realized that even though my mental capacity was beginning to deteriorate the one thing that I never lost was my creativity. I found some solace in the fact that I could still be creative and whether I succeed or not is irrelevant because I am doing what makes me happy and in the end that’s all I could ever dream to do. I had finally accepted that, yes, I failed at college but that wasn’t the end of my story; it is time for me to write a new chapter.

As I begin this new chapter in my life, I’ve come to realize that every single failure that I’ve faced in my life has led me to where I am today. Without being a social outcast in high school I never would have met my amazing wife who pushed me to be the person I am today. Without failing out of college I never would’ve rediscovered my creativity, and most importantly without the failure of my brain, I never would’ve had the drive, tenacity, and personality that makes me who I am. My advice, embrace your failures because without failure then you can never truly succeed.


About the author:

Christian Downs is a creative, young artist, who currently is working on growing his knowledge and capabilities in graphic design and other art mediums. He has an associates degree in general studies with a focus in criminal justice. He enjoys horror movies, getting tattoos, and spending time with his wife and doggo.


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