As kids, we are always given chance after chance when we fail. I was a serious troublemaker (especially in my teens) and always had brushes with the discipline masters. And despite all the wrong-doings and disappointments I have caused, I was always forgiven by the school and the teachers. But somehow when we age, those second chances seem to diminish and become non-existent. Why is that so?

There is a multitude of reasons, but off the top of my head, things like "maturity" and "responsibility" pop up. We are expected to have learnt how to do things properly, to be responsible for our actions and of course to be civilised. Not that those are bad, but in learning, when do we ever get things right on the first try?

I have been fortunate enough to have multiple second chances, especially in my musical journey. I mentioned before that I was really ignorant and did not know what it meant to study music and to become, what we call, professional.

So being 21 and ignorant, I was late for my very first lesson. It didn't take me long to learn to be early, but I was given my "second chance" and thankfully managed to graduate! When I first went to Peabody as part of the joint-degree programme, I had zero expectations and was just going there because I thought, "it's gonna be cool to study overseas". Needless to say, I was mind-blown!! My "second chance" came in year 3, when I completed the joint-degree year at Peabody, and I made sure to squeeze every last opportunity to make full use of my time there.

But the biggest "second chance" I got was actually with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. I was still a freshman that time, and was asked to play as an extra with the orchestra. Honestly, the details are not as vivid, but you can be sure I was doing things that will get me fired on the first day of the job. I arrived literally minutes before the rehearsal (as a percussionist, you don't ever do this!) and to make things worse, my stuff was already set up - that's like getting your boss to do your work for you! On top of that, I was not prepared for the rehearsal and was helplessly lost the whole time there. That was my debut with the SSO and I don't think the section or the management were too happy with it.

Along the years since then, I grew up and matured, had plenty of "second chances" and really started to take things seriously. After all, if I don't work hard for my career now, then I can count on not having one in the future. It's a miracle I got my "second chance" with the SSO in July last year, when we returned from the States. This time round, I took ownership of my part and was 1000% prepared. That is why I always consider it a privilege, playing with them every time (because you never know when your last will be) and why I work hard to play my best all the time too.

As I mentioned earlier, second chances diminish when we get older. But we are all human and as humans, we make mistakes. Some more frequently than others, but that is the whole journey of the learning cycle. We make mistakes and learn from them and hopefully, do not commit those errors again. My idealistic hope is that things change and employers are able to give "second chances" to their employees, to see their potential rather than failure, and to help them when in need instead of abandoning them. If I did not get my "second chance", I will definitely be in a different situation now, and I don't think I'll be too thrilled about it.

What about you? I would love to hear what your "second chance" was and your experience behind it. And in my next post, I'll be sharing some tips on how to not get fired! Till then, stay safe and be well! Thanks for reading!


P. S. I only felt this way this morning, but in the larger scheme of the Universe called Life, every day is like a "second chance" to love more, to care more and to be a better person. It's not too late to start anything or to mend broken bridges, and I hope we can find the courage and determination to do what we set out to achieve.