The Power Of Second Chances
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Politics and Activism

The Power Of Second Chances

Everyone deserves one.

The Power Of Second Chances

As we come upon the end of 2015, everyone will soon be heavily reflecting on the past 12 months, maybe even more, and starting to create resolutions and goals for the next 12 to come. This got me thinking, what are some things within the past year, heck maybe even the past two years, that I wish I could have a do-over at?

Face it, we all do stupid things, we all make mistakes, and we all wish we could change the outcome of certain aspects of our lives. And while I am pretty much content with saying I have lived all these years with no regrets, I'd be lying if I tried to say there were not things I wish I could change. Things I wish played out differently, words I left unsaid that still haunt my thoughts, wishing ever so excessively to be spoken, people I left behind that I sometimes miss, and even just the everyday embarrassing mistake I wish never happened. None of these things are life threatening, I wouldn't be here writing this right now if they were, but I think reflecting on such things helps build not only our character, but our future.

After all, how can you ever really mature if you never take the time to reflect and take responsibility for your past actions?

Something I have come to realize recently is that a lot of us millennials, from where I am standing at least, are on either side of what I call "TheDo Over Spectrum." I give the spectrum this name because some of us give out second chances like they're tic tacs, and others, once scorned, refuse to ever let that person even make eye contact with us the same way they previously did. There may be some of us that fall somewhere in the middle, but for the most part I have noticed people tend to be closer to one side than the other.

Here's the problem with this: not everyone seems deserving of a second chance, and being too forgiving only causes more harm than good. But not being forgiving enough leads to a very lonely life as well. And while there are definitely people out there who burn through their second chances faster than you can say forgiveness, I've started to realize that in a weird way second chances, more often than not, benefit both parties pretty well rather than just the party who needed another shot.

On the odd chance you give someone another shot at making up for however they scorned you, or another chance to express how they feel, another chance for anything really, not only does that person grow from the opportunity to prove themselves, but you grow too. Its always nice to regain faith in humanity every now and then, and when you give someone a chance to do that for you, you are expanding yourself as a person as well as opening up new perspectives about that person and maybe even seeing a different side to yourself. Possibly a side you like.

While not everyone may deserve or seemingly deserve another chance to make things right or say something they left unsaid, etc., in a way you owe it to yourself to try and make things right for the both of you. Even if nothing comes from this second chance, even if it ends up worse than before, we all owe it to ourselves to try and live a better life, be a better person, make ourselves happier, and allow ourselves to learn and to grow. For every mistake someone made towards you, you may have 10 mistakes you wish someone would let you fix. So I bet if you had the chance, you'd take it.

So here lies another problem: not everyone takes the chance, not everyone knows they could have a second chance if they wanted one, and not everyone knows they need to give somebody one. I am a firm believer in making our own opportunities in this life, which means sometimes you have to go out there and ask for a do-over.

Scary, I know. No one wants to admit defeat. It's hard enough admitting we did the slightest thing wrong. The words "I am disappointed in you" haunt all of us equally. Taking responsibility is not always easy, for some of us (me especially), I tend to try and take responsibility for things I did not even do (welcome back to "The Do Over Spectrum"). I tend to carry around what my family likes to call "Irish Catholic Guilt," something I've done since I was born. My bad habit? Apologizing too much, and typically for things I didn't even do. But not everyone else on the planet is like me, or even can grasp the concept that its humanly possible for someone else to blame themselves for your issue. But it is. Just like it's humanly possible for someone to completely be unable and incapable of accepting their own responsibility for the role they play in their mistakes.

I am also the type of person to think I am making it obvious that I am giving someone another chance -- mainly it's by reaching out to them randomly every now and then just to see if they'll take the hint and go from there. I learned the hard way that not everyone sees that as an opportunity for discussion of past matters. And sure, small talk is important at first, but I saw a Twitter post recently that got me thinking about how small talk in times of assumed forgiveness and supposed second chances can actually be detrimental to the second chance and forgiveness itself.

This post talked about how we should climb mountains for people who may not jump puddles for us, how we should cross oceans, because it's about what you give in life, not what you get. Like I said before, giving the opportunity to someone, gives something back to you just as much as it does to them. We shouldn't be afraid to tell anyone how we feel at any given moment. If you wake up in three months and you decide you feel really bad about something you did to someone your freshman year? Tell them. Who cares how long it's been? It doesn't matter if they are over it by now, it doesn't matter how long overdue the apology is. What matters is that you think it matters.

That person may never forgive you, but by making the opportunity for yourself and taking the time to say something about it, you allow yourself to officially move on from it. The power of second chances is they can actually change your life. They can make you a much happier person, and in turn you can help someone else find resolve with things they previously may not have been able to. If we all went about our lives never owning up to anything, never apologizing, never trying again each time we failed at something, the human race wouldn't be doing so well.

Even if it's just a second chance to say the words you never got to, say it. Do it. Text that person the longest explanation you need to. Tell them everything you need to say. Get it off your chest so you can finally free yourself from how it held you back. Don't worry about if it will make them feel uncomfortable or awkward, or if they won't feel the same way, etc. You'll go to sleep happier with yourself knowing you tried.

And for those on the receiving end of said text messages? Give that person the chance they need. The chance they tried to make for themselves. Recognize the opportunity they took and allow them to do what they need to do. Even if it does make you uncomfortable, or even if you don't feel the same way, hear them out. Because they need you to hear what they have to say to you, and you may not know it then but you probably need to hear it.

The power of second chances is that they typically don't come around for all of us very often, but when they do, they're great. If you're like me, you may give them out too often to people who don't even know you're doing it, but not all of us get that lucky.

Giving someone a second chance for anything is not a waste of time. If they choose to take it they clearly are not trying to waste your time, and if you choose to give it, it clearly means enough to you to risk it.

There's so much beauty behind the power of a second chance. After all, if we really want to get to be 85 years old with no regrets, we might have to start making our own opportunities for forgiveness a little more, taking more chances, and giving more chances too.

What matters in this life is that we try. We try to live our dreams, we try to do well in everything, we try new things, we try to make a difference, we try to make things right. At the end of the day if you're trying, you're better off because of it. No one can ever hold your efforts against you, but lack of effort is another story.

So as this year is coming closer and closer to an end, think about all the things you wish you could change. Think about all the words you wish you got to say to someone. Think about all the things you'd like another shot at--no matter how much of a long shot it may seem to be, no matter if it happened ten years ago or ten minutes ago. We all ultimately deserve another chance at something. We all deserve an opportunity to make things right. We all deserve to say how we truly feel. We all deserve to be heard. We all deserve to live a life with no regrets. We all deserve the chance to try.

And next time someone seems like they want another chance, give it to them. Next time you want to take another chance? Do it. You have absolutely nothing to lose. Next time you randomly get a text message from someone who hurt you or who you may have even hurt, think about it. They may just be trying to make it right with you. Next time someone you haven't spoken to in years tries to tell you they are sorry. Hear them out. Next time you feel like you want to tell the boy or girl you've been secretly in love with for years how you feel, scream it from the rooftops. Even if it doesn't go your way, you did what you needed to do. You gave that person what they needed. You gave yourself something you may not have known you needed. You changed a life in the smallest but most meaningful of ways.

All it took was trying.

The year 2016 is a new year, with new chances to try, and new opportunities to make for yourself. Try it. Do it. Listen. Open up. Free yourself. After all, the power of the second chance comes from the power you have to give it, to make it, and to take it. Life is too short. So why not?

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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