This I Believe

Matt Lakis - Willow Springs, Illinois
Entered on February 25, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

“Second Chances”

My life has been full of regrets and sorrows. Every time I am reminded of my past there is always something that I wish could have been different. Something better. Most people would say that life isn’t lived in the past, but the present. However, it’s the past that shapes our futures, and with that, everyone should be given an extra opportunity to paint their future to the brightest. I believe in second chances.

When I was a child I was always getting into mischief; fighting with my friends, breaking my brother’s toys, and not always listening to directions. I was a brat. Of course, in hand with being a brat came far too many lectures from my father. My father, a hard working man, always got so frustrated with me. He had it rough as a child, not me. It was so hard for him to understand why children these days acted so spoiled and self-centered. And with that lack of understanding, led to many speeches starting with, “You know when I was a kid…”

My father is a perfect example of a second chance, taken advantaged of. He grew up in a two flat apartment, on the rough streets of Cicero. There, great opportunities were seldom. The schools were bad and the guidance was terrible, but that did not stop him from fighting to make the most of his life.

He studied every night knowing that the best ticket out of a menial life was a great education. His only hope relied on a full ride scholarship to a well known university because he did not have enough money to pay it himself. He often would bike 10 miles to his friend’s home every morning and walk another 2 just to attend the best high school in the area. To my father, nothing was standing in his way of happiness.

After four years of strenuous effort and dedication my father was accepted to Bradley and Northwestern University, both on full ride scholarships. At the time it was common for most seniors to just finish high school and move on to a job at a factory or a nearby restaurant, but not my father; he had his eyes set on higher sights.

When judgment day came my father chose Bradley and upon four years of strenuous work, graduated in the top of his class. After graduation he accepted a job to work for the government. Today, he still works for the government supporting a family of 4 and living financially easily.

Now, as a teenager, I can finally understand what his life stories were all about. They were about drive, passion, and the ability to tell those around you “No, I can do this”. The gift of my father’s stories has shaped my life and I hope it has questioned yours. If my father has taught me anything it’s that life isn’t just one chance, gone, life is full of chances and it’s your responsibility to take advantage. My father didn’t inherit his second chance, he earned it.