Interview with William Downie – Perseverance and Finding Your Path

William Downie grew up with both parents and an older brother and sister in a typical, small midwestern town. He attended public elementary schools until he went on to a smaller, well-respected private middle and high school in the larger nearby city. There he played tennis and swam, but also enjoyed skateboarding and playing drums in a band with friends. 

William Downie went on to attend Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, receiving his Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and Statistics, graduating Cum Laude with University Honors. He joined the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and still has lasting friendships from that experience. 

Following his undergraduate studies, William Downie received his Doctor of Dental Surgery Degree from Indiana University School of Dentistry, graduating with Highest Distinction Honors, tied for first in his class. 

From there, he went on to practice dentistry for a little over eight years, first in his father’s practice, then in his own practice. Ultimately, dentistry was not meant to be his path in life. However, he certainly gained valuable experiences and knowledge from those years. 

It turns out his path in life has led him to a passion for working in the mental health field.

Being of service to others and making a positive impact on how people view themselves and the world around them is what drives William Downie today. A spiritual door of recovery has opened in his life, bringing out his true altruistic and empathetic personality. This is the result of living a sober lifestyle based on the 12-step principles. 

He is a firm believer that his higher power has and continues to give him amazing things in his life so that he can strive to be of maximal service to others. He’s always willing to tell his own story so that others may be the best versions of themselves that they can be. 

William Downie practices progress, not perfection, as well as the principles of honesty, willingness, and openness in all his affairs. He utilizes both his past experiences and the strength and hope that he has acquired from being active in recovery to add value and positivity to all aspects of this life. 

He believes in taking care of himself and enjoys playing recreational beach volleyball, and running. He’s currently training for a marathon that he will be completing with his sister in February of 2022. He is very involved in service commitments that he participates in as a result of being highly active in 12-Step programs.  He is a loving son, brother and “Uncle Will” to his niece and nephew.

Being in recovery, he has connected with the spiritual aspects of life. He leans on a higher power of his understanding to help guide him down his path, doing the next right thing and humbly reminding him to always have acceptance and to be grateful for the second chance at life that he has been given.

We had a chance to sit down with William Downie and talk about how he’s gotten to where he is today and what’s in store for him. 

What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months? 

The toughest decision I’ve had to make in the last few months was reluctantly agreeing to sign up for my first marathon. It’s a daunting race and the training requires running hundreds of miles. 

I had to decide if I had enough time in my life to schedule all the intensive grueling pre-race workouts. Plus, I had to honestly ask myself if I was willing to follow the diet modification suggestions to help me lose weight so that running the entire race would be an achievable goal. 

I am thrilled my family encouraged me to commit to running the marathon as the lifestyle modifications that have come with training and preparation for it have been extremely beneficial to not only my mental health, but also my physical health.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it? 

As an undergraduate at Miami University, I worked at the central library on a shift from 4:00 am – 9:00 am during the week. I originally took the job thinking that it would be really easy because no one would be at the library at that time, and I could use the time to catch up on classwork.

It turns out that I need to sleep! In fact, I ideally need about 8 hours of sleep a night if I want to perform and execute at the highest level that I can. With this fact in mind, I wasn’t ever able to shift my sleep schedule to fall asleep early enough in the night to wake up and show up to work at 4:00 am, or to stay awake long enough to go to work and then sleep after.

I ended up sleeping through a couple shifts right out of the gate and was let go. I learned my lesson about scheduling not only my day, but my night so I can always practice ideal self-care and setting aside enough time for me to recharge my batteries. That includes time to sleep!

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

If I were to start again, I would take suggestions from my mentors and people I trust more seriously when I first started my career. 

Before finding recovery and sobriety, I surrounded myself with all the wrong people and things too frequently. I was acquiring problems faster than I could solve them. 

Today, I have solutions that guide my life. This is thanks to a strong program of recovery that I have done a lot of work to achieve, and continue to do everyday. I’ve learned to take suggestions from those in my program who are close to me and genuinely care about me. 

What is one failure you had, and how did you overcome it?

While training for the marathon that I will be running in February of 2022, I was trying to run a practice half marathon without walking or stopping. My body felt abnormally sluggish and I had to walk many times. I only made it to eleven miles before I threw in the towel for the day. 

Rather than get discouraged, I practiced solution oriented thinking. I realized that I wasn’t adequately hydrating in advance and the fuel I was putting in my body was not conducive to providing the nutrients necessary to run that distance continuously! 

Since then, I’ve adjusted my water intake and have made major diet modifications that’ll help me reach my goal. 

I don’t view obstacles as problems anymore. Instead, I see them as an opportunity to practice solution-oriented thinking. 

What is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do? 

Physical exercise. For me specifically, this means running. Every day I run anywhere from 4 to 10 miles. I always run, regardless of how busy my day is or how I’m feeling. 

As a result of running, I am happier, can think more clearly and don’t waste energy on anything nonproductive. Paradoxically, running makes me more efficient in my day so I ultimately have more time to complete other activities. 

Published December 7th, 2021