Failing Upward

Steven Walden
2 min readJun 8


Facebook memories remind me of where I’ve been. The highs as well as the lows. Lows like this one from eight years ago.

I dislike how social media emphasizes the highlights. You don’t get to see the ugly parts. It doesn’t feel real. I post my successes and internalize my failures (or I save them for conversations with friends and my therapist).

I fail and I struggle. A lot.

Overall, my life is remarkably better than it was eight years ago when I made this post. But it still doesn’t keep away depression. It still doesn’t keep away rejection spirals. They are just inevitable with both my career (which I chose) and who I am (which I did not). You put yourself out there and rejection is a part of the deal. That’s it.

There’s been a lot of talk recently that those with ADHD are especially sensitive to rejection — I don’t know if the research is there to support it, but I can say with anecdotal certainty in my experience, this is 100% the truth.

When I’m at my low points, I find myself reflecting on gratitude and trying to help others. So that’s why I’m sharing this now. I’m grateful for what I have now. Whether you’re an artist, a creative, or however you identify, I hope that you can find some truth or hope and knowing that you’re not alone.

These memories are a sort of time machine. The things that allow us to look into the past with microscopic-like clarity. To see all of the things around us and ahead of us of which we had no idea.

And so if I could go back to my 2015 self on this day, I would say, “I know you’re hurting. I know you’re sad. But you have no idea of the brightness and the joy that are just right around the bend for you. Just keep going. You’re going to meet so many amazing people and make so many new friends and find so much love in the world that you have no idea. And they’re all just waiting for you. And you’ll find it and know that you deserve it.”

It’s going to be okay in the end.

And if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.



Steven Walden

Cat-obsessed St. Louis therapist-turned-artist specializing in sports, pop culture, & charity. [he/him]