I am a failure.

At any given time, I have friends and family who find themselves in a mental and emotional ditch because of life in general.

A lot of the causes are pretty common:

  • Struggle finding satisfying work
  • Not sure what to do with life/career or lack of direction
  • Feeling out of place career wise
  • Feeling like a failure
  • Have dreams but can’t make them happen
  • Fear of failure and being stuck

I love helping people and trying to talk people through stuff, help them find direction, inspiration, motivation, etc.

It was why I originally went to college for psychology and human services. I wanted to help people. I wound up switching my major and ultimately dropping college to go to technical/trade school to study emergency medicine – I wanted to be more hands on with helping people.

In a lot of my talks with people it’s not uncommon to hear something along the lines of “it’s easy for you to say, you’re doing well and you’re successful, and…and… and…”

Yes, I worked EMS for a number of years and was successful there.

Yes, I’ve successfully been self employed for over a decade in marketing and freelance writing.

Yup, I’ve now published two books with more in the pipeline and doing well with indie publishing thanks to my marketing experience.


Let me tell you something… I am an absolute failure.

I am.

I have failed so hard so many times.

So many times, in fact, that when I was younger it started to paralyze me and I was constantly worried that anything I did I was going to fuck up and just keep losing. I had to fight myself constantly in my teenage years because I wound up in a “why bother” mindset.

And you know what?

I still fucking failed. Miserably. So many times.


It was awful, but it got to a point over the years where I embraced it. Now… at 37 years old… I embrace failure. I willing run headlong into it screaming “fuuuck yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees” and I give it my all every time. In everything I do.

The result?

I fail a LOT. I crashed over obstacles and hurdles a LOT.

Let me give you examples:

  • Tried repeatedly to improve my voice doing choir from 7th grade to graduation. Always wanted a solo. Failed every audition and was just average
  • Always wanted lead acting roles, never got em, only ever got supporting roles
  • Tried to make the wrestling team but got cut
  • 1999: Tried to launch a business after high school (hobby/gaming store) – failed, couldn’t get financed.
  • 2004: Started writing my first official fiction novel… never got past the first couple chapters (insert countless attempts over the next 10+ years to finish and never get anywhere)
  • 2004: Tried to start a web design business. Made some money… tanked in 6 months because I couldn’t find more clients
  • 2006: Produced and launched an online free-to-play role playing game with optional paid features – made some money but it died off and closed after a year and a half.
  • 2007: Tried to start another web design business. Made some money… tanked in a couple months again because I didn’t make enough time for it
  • 2008: New book idea! Started writing a new fiction novel… yeah… nope. Never got past chapter 2.
  • 2009: Tried to start a side business selling commissioned art – yeah that didn’t work at all.
  • 2014: Launched a direct-to-consumer drop shipping business for a niche product after tons of research and a small investment… made exactly $0 after factoring in startup costs and marketing costs because of razor thin margins. Not sustainable or scalable. killed it.
  • 2015: Started a business making my own pizza sauce. People absolute loved it (and still do). Tried to grow it and scale up, investor pulled out, stalled and died.
  • 2015: Tried to restart pizza sauce biz selling direct to consumer online and was doing awesome, USDA shut me down because I didn’t have an official commercial kitchen. Dream died.
  • 2016: Started an apparel business online with custom shirts, hoodies, hats, etc. with my own designs. Started out with a bang, ultimately pooped out within 6 months for various reasons but at least I made my investment back and a little bit extra.

You know what I learned in all of that?

A shit ton of stuff. I’ve learned more from my failures and attempts than I’ve learned from my successes.

Sure, the failures sucked hot sick ass. They hit me hard. They made me feel like shit. But I never gave up.

I knew that with every failure I was stepping toward finding something. Each attempt was a new chapter, a new adventure, and a new opportunity to explore something.

Early on I stopped letting the fear of failure stop me from trying. All those failures shaped me into who I am today. If I chose to focus on those and give up on anything new, I would never have found the things I love that I’ve succeed at now.

I certainly wouldn’t have finally made it to the point of being a published author, or being able to work from home as a freelance writer and marketer. Those two massive wins are where I focus, as reminders that you’ll fail soooo many fucking times but you’ll eventually find those things that work for you.

They don’t often come in early in life. Sometimes they come later in life.

But they don’t happen if you stop trying.

They don’t happen if you don’t go after what you want and embrace some risk.

I’m not the only proof of that. Look at these people who didn’t find their success until much later, after other pursuits didn’t work:


Vera Wang – was a fashion writer into her 30’s. Didn’t become a famous wedding dress designer until she was 39.

Grandma Moses – famous painter, right?  Had never painted anything until the age of 79.

Julia Child – famous French chef. Didn’t know anything about French cuisine before the age of 30. Didn’t publish her first cookbook until she was 39. Her television debut didn’t happen until she was 51.

Momofuku Ando – You like instant noodles? Thank him. He sold salt until he was 48, did plenty of jail time, too. Then invented instant noodles.

Alan Rickman – Professor Snape didn’t do any acting in film until he was 28.

Samuel L Jackson – was a recovering cocaine and heroin addict and didn’t get a starring film role until the age of 46 when he was in Pulp Fiction.

Stan Lee – He was 39 when he wrote his first hit comic (Fantatic Four) and didn’t invent the Marvel universe until he was in his 40’s.

Steven Spielberg – rejected from joining a school of cinematic arts TWICE. That school later named a building in his honor as a way of saying “oops” years later.

Thomas Edison – Told by his teachers that he was too stupid to learn anything.

Walt Disney – Fired by a newspaper where he was a cartoonist because the editor said he lacked imagination.

Stephen King – His first book, Carrie, was rejected by 30 publishers. He gave up and threw it in the trash. His wife retrieved it and told him to try again, so he did. That led to his first book deal that launched his career.


Fail repeatedly.

Fail and learn from it. Let it shape you, and mold you.

Don’t ever stop trying.

I’ve failed, and I couldn’t be happier that I have.

And I’m looking forward to failing again.

By | 2017-09-28T18:18:07+00:00 September 28th, 2017|The Burn Pile|5 Comments

About the Author:

Derek is a retired Emergency Medical Professional and has been a lover of telling stories his entire life, having made the transition from “filthy liar” to “sexy author” about the same time silver hairs started showing up in his face (and other places.) Aside from being a published author and freelance writer he’s also a gamer, gym rat, snow hater (despite living in Michigan), life liver, stunt double for Hulk, and he considers himself to be aggressively unfancy.


  1. Misti Runyon Long September 28, 2017 at 6:45 pm - Reply

    Derek you absolutely should add in your resume motivational speaker. You are fantastic and I love you and the words you speak. Always building up and never tearing anyone down.


    • Derek Adam September 28, 2017 at 8:24 pm - Reply

      Thanks Misti! I try to throw a little positive out into the universe every day 😀

  2. Roxanne Victor September 28, 2017 at 6:53 pm - Reply


  3. Marie September 28, 2017 at 7:22 pm - Reply

    You didn’t fail, you were only weeding out the things that weren’t right for you. You have to pass up a lot of trees before you find that perfect one.

    • Derek Adam September 28, 2017 at 8:25 pm - Reply

      Gonna carve my hashtag in the right one, haha

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