If at First You Don’t Succeed…

It’s easy to come into college with grand visions for the next four years.  However, if you’re like me, you will quickly realize that those original plans don’t always happen. Looking back, I wish someone had reminded me that failure isn’t final. So, I figured I would share the two big lessons that God taught me through failure. 

You’ll Wind Up Where God Wants You  

Life was good the final semester of college. I found myself interning in Los Angeles and leading a film project that could help get my foot in the door. Unfortunately, that was in 2020 and just a few months later, COVID-19 caused the internship and project to dramatically come crashing down. With options and finances running low, I made like the prodigal son and limped home to my parents. After I sent hundreds of resumes out, only Walmart gave me a call.  

Walmart was not where young Miles had planned for his career to end up. My confidence further dropped on my first night, when one coworker had a sobbing emotional breakdown, another walked out for good, and a third managed to slice their hand open with a boxcutter. The smoldering bitterness from my failure and the fear that school had wasted four years of my life was not helping either.  

However, with failure came growth. Within two months, I was considered one of the old hands at unloading trucks because only three of us were left on my shift. Then, management, with full knowledge of my introversion, poor multitasking skills and inability to think quickly on my feet, decided it would be fun to make me the only morning shift associate for the sporting goods, automotive, hardware and paint sections. Contrary to my expectations, I did not immediately fail, and despite the difficulties, I miraculously grew to enjoy the fast-paced chaos and responsibility of my job.  

This strange opportunity also helped my personal life. My spiritual walk was strengthened as attending church was now something I had to prioritize over weekend shifts. Instead of being the only thing happening on Sunday morning, church was something I had to fight for when it came to scheduling. Even my testimony became far more personal as I gained a reputation of being a “church guy” at work. This reputation allowed me to have several honest, spiritual conversations with coworkers and prompted me to treat difficult people kindly. The walking and lifting also benefited my health and kindled a newfound appreciation for exercise, though I still cannot say I love it. While this was not my plan, I learned a lot, especially things I never knew I needed to know! 

Finding the Right Humans Makes a Huge Difference

I’m not a massive fan of people because I’m not a great conversationalist. Large crowds trigger my claustrophobia, and extroverts make me pray for the Rapture. Knowing all of this, I knew working a customer service job was less than ideal. Despite the tidal wave of customer fury and the ever-present drama of cleaning up battery acid, I survived. 

My coworkers helped me stay focused through the madness, and their humor was unlike  anything I had yet experienced. They pulled me out of my shell, and soon I was the one making sarcastic jokes and training the new associates. I even became good friends with my highschool  bus driver who worked part-time there. After a few months in my new position, I was considered crazy enough to take over the announcements for my department, the closest thing to public speaking I had done in years.  

Humor is my coping mechanism, and I slowly realized that my coworkers were amused and encouraged by what I had to say.  Soon I became known as the jokester, something no one would have ever accused me of a few months earlier. This realization and the numerous tall tales my friends told rekindled my love for writing and telling stories, which would lead me to have a retail-related article published in several papers, complete a short novel, write three feature film scripts, and eventually come here to Regent to pursue a degree in writing.  By the time I left Walmart, two years had passed. There were rough days, but I learned to enjoy people–at least the ones with whom I worked.

So, chin up as the semester gets hectic and haywire. Closed doors can lead to open windows. No matter what bumps you encounter on the way, God still has a plan for you. If I have learned anything over the last few years, it’s that  life would be boring if it always went according to our plans.