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Four Years at the Mount

Junior year

A spotlight of generosity

Leeanne Leary
Class of 2017

(10/2015) The other night I was on the phone with one of my closest friends when he jokingly made a comment about my faulty logic. In response, I hung up and quickly called back asking for an apology. This was all in good fun, and neither of us were serious at any point in the exchange, but it hit me when brainstorming for this article. When I called back and offered a second chance, I expected him to accept and try again, and more than that, I wanted him to accept.

Looking into this small-scale example of a second chance, I found that second chances are not only desperately sought after by a person at fault, but there is just as much investment and hope coming from the person doing the offering. This got me seriously thinking about the times I have given or benefitted from second chances in my life and I realized we are constantly giving and searching for these chances in everyday life.

The first time I ever fouled out of a basketball game was in fifth grade and I cried. Looking back now, I realize it probably was not worth my tears, but when I walked off the court to sit on the bench, I waited to look to my coach expecting to be scolded. I was, briefly, but then I was put back into the next game later that day as if I had not done anything wrong. It was almost as if I got another chance the moment a new game started. It didnít take much discussion and I still fouled out of many games in my career from that moment on, but I understood that on that day, I was given a second chance without any question. This new chance probably came from the good things I had done during the first game and the hard work I had put in at practice, but regardless of where it came, from it was rooted in something.

I noticed that second chances come only when there is a mutual trust between the two parties involved. As freely as this second chance was given to me, it was not given without an unspoken expectation that I would try to not make the same mistakes again.

The unspoken expectations present in second chances seem to dictate the possibility of third and fourth chances. I see this on a larger scale in the current presidential election, world relations, and more. We, as a country, are much less likely to give a second chance to a president who has an affair or a candidate who makes a rash comment than we are to give them to our own friends, families, and even celebrities. It has to do with the expectations present in the leaders of our country and our inability to see these leaders as completely human. Second chances here are not given as freely as they were to me in my short-lived basketball career, but maybe this is the way it should be.

Second chances are given constantly; they are given to children when they forget to take out the trash on time, to little brothers who cut the hair off of your dolls, to friends for not showing up on time, to roommates for being too loud, to significant others for mistakes, to spouses for life-altering mistakes or for putting away wet dishes. We are literally surrounded by them and maybe that is why I have always taken them for granted.

Until very recently, I never thought I could do something so wrong or upset a person so much that I could not have a chance to make it right. I probably thought this because I always have been given second chances, and third, and fourth, and so on. I didnít always deserve them, but Iíve never been refused one.

Just the other week I found myself in a situation where I was genuinely afraid that I couldnít make up for a mistake I made with one of my closest friends. It wasnít until I was in this spot and feeling this incredible sadness that I truly appreciated all the times I have been give "one more try." This started a circle of thinking that I almost couldnít stop Ė as you can most likely tell by the way I am currently writing. I cannot imagine a world without second chances, and I often take them for granted, but they require understanding, they exist on both small and large scales of different magnitudes, and sometimes you just canít give or get one.

I know that second chances are rewarding to give and even more rewarding to receive, but the one thing that I have learned for certain about them is that they should not be taken for granted. They allow our world and our relationships to thrive and continue existing, even when mistakes are made, and mistakes are inevitable. They make us realize the forgiving nature of humanity and how beautiful that tendency is. They give us hope when we do seriously mess up, and they put a spotlight on the generosity of those offering the chance. They prove that both parties are searching for another chance, and most importantly, they allow me to hang up on my friends and then call right back.

Read other articles by Leeanne Leary