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Second Chances: The Greatest Gift You Can Give Yourself

This article is part of a series known as #30DaysOfThanks

second chances

We’ve all been given a second chance. Maybe we slipped up, or glossed over some crucial information. You could have failed your last exam, betrayed your friend or damaged a real love. You could have turned your back on someone, or made them turn their back on you. Maybe we got lured into wonderland by youthful misguidance, and maybe we did something we never thought we were capable of doing.

The truth is, we’re all capable of terrible things. We all do damage. But we are all creatures of redemption, if we seek it. First, we have to give ourselves a second chance. No matter what mistake we’ve made or how many of them we have made, there are more of them to come. Each time we have to learn to forgive ourselves, and to teach ourselves an unwritten lesson.

The thing about making mistakes is that we often know better, but we choose to ignore it. Sometimes we’re dominated by the full force of impulse, and we act. We do things that we never saw coming, and we crash through life like hurricane waves on white sand. We don’t realise the magnitude of the pain we cause until it’s too late, or how foolish we were until we have nothing left. We scramble for forgiveness.

Maybe we failed, and maybe we let someone down. But we have to have faith in ourselves, and sometimes we need someone else’s faith to encourage our own.

When I was younger, I used to believe that if someone wronged me that I was better off without them. I would cut them out, and I would never look back. To some extent, I am still this way. The difference is that this separation usually occurs after a second (maybe third) chance, not the first. My dad always told me that people make mistakes, and to always give someone the benefit of the doubt, but if they do it again, you’re done and that’s final. You can end up hurt again, but you’ll know the truth of a person.

[Tweet “As I grew up, I made my own mistakes. I became less idealistic and I grew more considerate. “]

As I grew up, I made my own mistakes. I became less idealistic and I grew more considerate. I became more open minded to the struggles of the human mind, and the conflict of emotions during my early twenties. I realized that I was often lured into situations that I now dread to remember (whether that’s due to tequila or shame I’m not entirely sure). I realized that I had to make a bad choice to make a good choice, and I had to break myself apart to put myself back together.

I’m thankful that others have given me the chance to reform some of my old ways, and I’m grateful that I’ve grown into a well-rounded young woman. I’m grateful that I had people by my side who gave me second chances, and made be believe that I could give them, too. I’m grateful that I was not defined by my mistakes, but more by how I rectified them.

Giving someone a second chance means trusting them again, it means believing that against all odds that they can rehabilitate themselves or abstain from creating the same problems. It means faith, and an understanding of what it is to be an imperfect human being.

More than the chances that others have given to me, I’m thankful of the second chances that I have given others. Some did deserve them, while others definitely didn’t. Whether they sabotaged their stroke of luck is irrelevant, because I’ll never be left to wonder if people are capable of change. I know that they are, but some never do. Some people need a push to grow, and some people are who they are. You’ll know when someone is built to be destructive, and you’ll know when someone made a mess with a mistake they wish they could reverse. Your belief that someone can change gives you both hope, and hope is a powerful motivator.

When was the last time you gave someone a second chance?

Maybe you never have, or maybe you hand them out like free candy. The truth is, they needed it, a chance to prove themselves – and you probably needed it too. I’m thankful for the belief I could inject into others, and for witnessing their growth when I didn’t expect it. I’m grateful for the second chances I gave myself, because they saved me when no one else could.

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About the Author

Shelley Phillips

Shelley holds a B.A. in Media Studies from Swansea University, Wales. She enjoys keeping up with a critiquing TV shows, blogging, American politics, and baking snicker doodles. She hopes to one day work as a journalist.