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Second Chances: My Middle School Dance to Cape Town

Joined: 3/31/2016
Posts: 1
When I was in sixth grade, I liked a boy named Sam, and I believe these romantic feelings were reciprocated.

At our first middle school dance, Sam came up to me and asked me to dance.

Although my head and heart wanted to say yes, I said no.

I went home that night pretty upset—upset at myself for saying no, upset at my shyness, my fear having nothing to say, scared of what yes would imply, what the future would hold. I was uncertain, and because of that I did not say yes, and because of that Sam did not ask me to dance again.

Yet, even though Sam did not give me a second chance, I was given a second chance on how I approached future situations—that is, situations that might seem initially scary or unknown, or minimally situations where I have a patchy sense of its end-point or how to get there.

I think it took me to the few months before my college graduation to finally embrace the second chance (per se) that Sam gave me.

I like reliability and security in my life—I love my to-do lists, I plan my life months in advance, and I always look up who wins the Bachelor on the season premiere. Yet, while deciding what I was going to do post-graduation, my career decision took an unexpected turn: I decided to do a yearlong internship with a social enterprise in Cape Town, South Africa—that is, a yearlong venture with an organization I had never heard of, in a country (and continent) I had never been to, and in a place where I knew no one.

When I was about to sign that internship agreement, I was brought back to the similar emotions and questions I felt back on the dance floor that middle school night: would I make friends? Would I like my job? Will I “fit in” in Cape Town? What will I “miss out on” in the U.S.? What will future employees think?

Yet, despite my fears, despite my inclination to plan every step of my future, despite my inability to know how this opportunity would turn out for my personal development and career path, I still signed that document. My signature signified an agreement to start a journey where I could not predict what would happen next, where I did not have all the answers, where the final outcome would not be based on calculations.

And when I signed that agreement, I oddly felt a sense of relief. I was not going to let my insecurities or fears hold me back; I was not going to turn down a potentially great opportunity because I was scared to say “yes.”

I got my second chance—11 years later. And now I want to share my message with you: say yes to things even if you are uncertain of what might happen, because I do know that if you say no, nothing will happen.
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Comment by thiegsr

Joined: 11/6/2008
Posts: 702
On behalf of the entire editorial board, I would like to congratulate you for your Feb./ March 2016 Second Chances essay being selected as our first place adult essay winner!

We will be contacting you via your registration email for prize details.

You can check this page after April 30th for all the writing contest results::

Thanks for adding your voice to our mission “Changing the World . . . One Story at a Time” and feel free to share your accomplishment with the world.

Rebecca Thiegs Co-Founder and Education Consultant
Posted: Tuesday, April 26, 2016 9:05:19 PM
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