If there’s a time to throw the adage “People don’t change” out the window, it is now. Need convincing? The following accounts of tragic accidents, unexpected epiphanies, and mic-drop moments have resulted in some impressive personality glow-ups. Keep reading and you might be able to absorb some life-altering insights yourself.
1. You Better Work
When I was in sixth grade, I was tasked as the leader of a group project. As I was quite lethargic that day, I just asked the group for opinions on the subject we were supposed to complete.
One of the girls, who was the most popular but not the brightest, said, “You're ugly, get away from me”.
The other girls in the group nodded in agreement. I guess they were intimidated by her. I rolled my eyes. She really picked the wrong time to mess with me. I was tired and mad. I gave her an unflinching stare and started to speak.
“Look, I don't care AT ALL about you and your opinions. If you feel inferior to me, then leave. I honestly can't be bothered to entertain petty make-myself-pretty girls like you. So, either you listen up and shut your mouth or you leave the group”.
The other group members, three boys and three girls, stared at me in amazement. She replied, “Then guess what, I don’t care either. So, you either shut your mouth or I’ll ask Ms. D. to kick you out of this group”.
Things got even more heated at that point—“Well guess what, princess? I'm the leader and I absolutely detest people like you. Get. Out”. She looked at me and shook her head. I repeated myself. “GET OUT! I’ll tell Ms. D. that I can’t stand you and I will get a replacement. Now scram”.
She complained to her parents and changed to a different class the very next day. That incident changed me—I’ve been headstrong ever since. Totally worth it.
2. Home Not-So-Sweet Home
I grew up in a very rural village. It was remote, insular, and the kind of place where the same families married into the same families. Only in the past few years have things started to change.
My father, a Polish immigrant with an unhealthy intolerant streak, found kindred spirits in the local rednecks and settled there when I was barely a toddler. In my home and the village, I was taught a variety of stereotypical views about people of different races.
When an Indian doctor started practicing up the road, my father chose to drive more than 30 km (20 miles) away to see a Polish doctor instead.
My interest in other cultures was strongly discouraged. In my parochial school, we were told to give money to the church and pray for starving nations, but we weren’t allowed to ever try to learn from them.
Still, I knew enough to not believe all that I was hearing. An Indian surgeon saved my life after a bad car accident. He told me that under the skin, we all bleed red. That was maybe the first time I had a personality shift, but it wasn’t the biggest.
I went on with life, assuming I’d marry a nice Polish boy and settle into the same country life I’d been living. But my father’s mistreatment became unbearable. I escaped to the city, to one of the most run-down areas of West Buffalo as it was all that I could afford.
I was in a very diverse neighborhood and with each day that passed, I started to realize how very wrong my father was. These minorities waited with me at the bus stop to make sure that the local thugs didn’t bother or mug me.
They let me use their bus passes to go to job interviews. But that wasn’t all.
One day when I showed up to work as a personal care aide, a group of little old ladies brought out some food when they saw that I had forgotten my lunch. All these helpers were poor, and all were struggling, but they gave all they had.
And like the widow in the Bible whose two little coins were the greatest treasure, they gave more than anyone living in my childhood village had ever given of themselves.
That was my big shift.
I learned the subtle difference between honest poor and sanctimonious rich and came to prefer the company and culture of the city. I learned to love diversity and will take it over money and the comforts of an insulated life.
3. Don’t Call It A Comeback
I was the exact opposite of a popular kid in middle school. I had maybe two friends. This resulted in me developing a nasty attitude. I basically drove people away. There was one incident where I was getting roasted hard by one of the popular girls.
I kept trying to come up with witty comebacks, but none of them were landing. The cringiest one was in response to Miss Popular Abby. She said, “I just can’t stand to look at you”. The only thing I could come up with was “Well, umm. I wouldn’t want to stand on you”.
What? I held it together, but as soon as I got into my mom’s car, I broke right down and cried all the way home. I told her that day that I wanted to be homeschooled, and I was homeschooled for the rest of the year.
The next year I went to a new school, and I was determined to be a guy who people could get along with. I joined the basketball team, got my first real girlfriend, and made good friends that I still see every week.
So, thank you, Abby. Thank you for being such a royal pain. I couldn’t have done it without you.
4. Humble Pie In The Face
When I was 19, I was at a hotel party. While I was there, one guy upset another guy who then threw a bottle at him. He ducked and it ended up hitting me in the face. The consequences were disastrous—it shattered two of my teeth and pushed my canine tooth way back. Pieces of teeth fell onto my tongue.
That feeling was something I’d never wish on my worst enemy. It changed my life dramatically. It was my humble pie, served cold. The only thing I remember saying is, “OMG, I’m going to be ugly!” Beauty is not only skin-deep. Vanity is not beautiful.
Now, at age 33, I still have a plate in my mouth because I can’t afford dental implants, but I’m OK with it. The plate helps me remember to stay humble and that anything can happen to anyone at any moment but what’s important is how you deal with it and continue to love yourself.
Here's the most important thing you must remember: confidence is not sold in stores. You must be confident in yourself, love yourself, and be proud to be what you were intended to be. When they took out what was left of the three teeth, I had to go with stitches in my mouth for a month.
That didn't stop me from being a teenager. I went to parties, hung out with friends, and went on with my life. I've always said, “It's just teeth.” My mom has always encouraged me not to let anyone break my spirit.
My spirit is still alive and well. I consider myself lucky. Some people have perished from a blunt hit to the head. I’m just the girl with the broken smile.
5. No Regrets
After finishing high school, I had a few months before starting college. I had a lot of spare time, so one day I decided to go for a walk-in a nearby forest. It was dark and quiet with the odd birdsong. I started going there every day and taking my hunting firearm with me.
At first, I wasn’t very good at hunting but slowly I improved. By the time I went to college, I had developed a great passion for hunting. Whenever I came home from college, I would go hunting. In the summer, I didn’t go for an internship. My only internship was hunting all day.
I didn’t take care of myself, my hair started to get long and crazy and I grew a long beard, but I was so attached to my hunting that I didn’t care. So, one day I went on a hunt and didn’t get anything all day. I had never had a day like this as I would never miss a target no matter how far.
This day was different, though. I missed each target. The sun was setting on the horizon, and it was almost time to go home. Then I saw this big, beautiful bird right above the next tree. I suddenly took aim and got it right in the chest.
The bird came down and when I rushed to pick it up, I saw that she was holding an insect in her beak. At first, I didn’t pay any attention but then a sudden realization hit me—she was taking food to her babies!
When I looked up to the branch next to where I hit her, there was a nest, and I could hear the baby birds. HOLY GOD! I thought. What have I done? My hands were shaking as I picked up the mother bird and put her aside.
I had no idea what to do. I stood there for an hour just staring at the consequences of my actions.
Right then and there I decided to give up hunting forever. This incident changed me to the core. I developed a deep love for birds, and I often think that if this incident had never happened, I probably would have hunted thousands of birds and other animals over the years.
6. Pulling Strings
This happened on Independence Day, 2016. I had slept all day long and then in the evening, my friends called me up and invited me to come fly some kites with them. I was feeling low and was in no mood to see people, but they persuaded me and eventually, I gave in.
So I was on my way, riding my scooter. And then it happened. You might have heard about Chinese manja, the fighting kites that have powdered glass on their strings. Well, suddenly, out of the blue, I felt a thread crossing my face.
It stuck to my lips, and I felt a burning sensation. Within seconds, I was bleeding left right, and center.
I could not even register what had happened because in no time I was covered in blood. I got scared—very scared. Somehow, with one hand on my lips, I rode back home. My dad saw me riding up and that was the first time I’ve ever seen him terrified. I can’t tell you how sharp that manja was.
My dad rushed me to the hospital where I got seven stitches in the left side of my lip and three in the right. I’m so glad that my dad was home and that I was able to get the stitches done quickly.
The next day, I picked up the paper and saw that the same manja had taken some lives with it as well. The people who became entangled around the neck PERISHED ON THE SPOT. I was saved by a couple of inches.
My mind was blown. I cannot really describe what went through my head that day but the one thing that I eventually figured out was how trivial our daily life issues are. How do we keep fearing things and keep being in a state of disappointment all our lives?
What matters is this very moment. Not the past, not the future.
7. Voice Of Reason?
I used to be aggressive because I resented that women were considered the weaker gender. My feelings were reflected in my voice, my facial expressions, the way I dressed, and so on.
One day in college, I heard a girl answering a question in class. She had the sweetest, softest voice I’d ever heard in my life. I was totally enamored with her voice! It sounded purely feminine, and something about it was just so pretty.
Over the next few months, my voice changed. I don’t think I made a deliberate decision to change it, but I noticed that I was more careful not to yell. I stopped laughing loudly. I laughed less than I used to, but I smiled more. I stopped snapping at people.
Then I noticed that all my physical characteristics were changing. I stopped smirking. My hand gestures became less extreme. Even my face relaxed and settled into a gentler expression.
Maybe it’s because I’m such an auditory person that the sound coming out when I spoke had such a powerful impact on me.
My physical changes began to influence my personality. I became a lot softer and less aggressive. I was less cynical and critical.
There’s a concept called “self-signaling”. It means that the way you act on a physical level, for example, the way you dress, or the way you walk, has a powerful impact on how you see yourself and who you become.
8. A Real Eye-Opener
When I was in third-year engineering, I used to go to the gym every day in the evening. On my way home, I used to go and pray for a few minutes at the Lord Hanuman Temple. I used to ask myself and God so many things.
One evening, a boy of about 12 years was wheeled in his wheelchair to the temple. His next move had me stunned—he got down, climbed the iron gate, pulled out a cloth, got down, and started mopping the floor.
I have legs, hands, and a good physique but never did I think of sweeping or mopping—even at home!
That boy was so much less fortunate, but he still served. I had everything but never thought of serving at temple. I was always asking for things without service. From that day forward, I started believing in destiny and stopped complaining to God about small misfortunes.
Yes, I am more fortunate than a lot of people, and now I am more thankful for it.
9. What’s So Funny?
When I moved to Bangkok, I was probably the weirdest version of myself (so far at least). I was self-conscious, insecure, and repressed (e.g., I would think a million times before laughing out loud).
I used to have a weak smile plastered across my face and I hardly talked about anything apart from my studies.
To add to this, when I moved into my international school in Bangkok, I was very conscious of my accent. So, basically, if anything was addressed to me, or if the teacher asked any questions, I preferred to stay mum rather than answer.
On my first day there, I met Anushree, who was also an Indian and had been living there all her life. She started hanging out with me, for some strange reason. When I first met her, I hated her. She was everything I was not.
Anushree did not give two hoots about what anyone thought of her. She used to feed our class hamsters during recess when the rest of the class was having fun outside. She laughed like crazy. When she laughed, the whole corridor knew Anushree was around there somewhere.
Sometimes, in a fit of laughter, she would crumple to the floor holding her hands on her head. I used to feel super strange when she started behaving like that, but she grew on me. She became the sister I never had. And now, I laugh like crazy.
I laugh a lot and like no one is watching me—making a high-pitched squeaky sound with all my teeth sticking out. Sometimes people ask me why I laugh like that. I think to myself then, God forbid, had you met Anushree, you would have thought that my laugh was so mild.
She helped me to open myself up more and to laugh like there is not tomorrow.
10. Smart Cookie
My 10-year-old daughter came home from school one day and walked into my office. I looked up, scowled, and spat out, “What do you want?”
She thought a moment and said, “You know, Dad, you sound angry. But you’re not angry at me. You’re angry for some other reason and you’re taking it out on me”.
It stopped me cold. When I thought about what she’d said, I knew she was right. And I knew that I couldn’t snap at her again, not without good reason. In fact, I couldn’t snap at anyone again, not without good reason, and that good reason would have to be very good.
11. All Smiles
When I was a young woman, I didn’t smile much. I’m quite intense and was always preoccupied, so I didn’t think about my face or how I appeared to others.
I should have realized something was up when young children would run from me in fear and babies would cry when they saw me.
When I was 34 and my first child was three, I noticed something: His smile got him pretty much whatever he wanted, from anybody. I’d never thought about smiling before as I have mild Asperger’s syndrome and don’t pick up on some social things.
I decided to give it a try. And my life in the world totally changed. Finally, other mothers’ babies stopped crying when they saw me. I’m happy to say, my son is still teaching me things 25 years later.
12. Snap Back To Reality
Late one evening, my sister and I were playing badminton near our apartment building. During one game, the birdie fell in between the line dividing our made-up courts.
What did we do next? We started arguing about who was to pick it up and who was to be blamed for throwing it the wrong way.
This continued for a few minutes, with the birdie just lying there on the ground. Then something happened. A young boy, who had just been walking by, noticed us arguing. He walked to the birdie, picked it up, and handed it to me.
My frustration went out the window. I smiled at the kid, took the shuttlecock, and said, “Thank you”. As he walked away, I looked at my sister, smiled, and we continued our game. To conclude, I learned that problems have simple solutions, it is we who complicate them.
13. Things That Make You Go Hmm
Not very long ago, the temperature was hitting 49C (120 F) in my part of the world. At my workplace, we were whining about the heat and constantly drinking chilled water while sitting in the air-conditioned office. We decided to take a stroll to the canteen.
We stepped out and were standing around chatting when a little bird collapsed and fell out of the sky right ahead of where I was standing. Most probably the bird was looking for water. We gave it some water and after about 10 minutes it flew away.
“Global warming,” “deforestation,” “depletion of resources”—I never cared for these issues until this little bird collapsed and fell. Make sure you take a small step to save nature. Plant two trees, one in your name and one for this feathered friend.
14. Knowing Is Half The Battle
When I was in school, I was bullied a lot because I had a different way of pronouncing words. Due to this, I stopped asking questions during lectures and I stopped doing any public speaking. A few years later, I went to college.
During one of my classes, our teacher asked me to introduce myself in front of the whole class. I froze. I refused to talk and instead, I just walked away quietly. I was afraid that people would make fun of me because I was weird, and I was angry at myself for being born like this.
Later that day, a friend of mine came to see me and asked me what was wrong. It was the first time I came to know that I have a frontal lisp. In short, that was why I was unable to pronounce certain letters clearly.
After this discovery, I started working on myself and began to gain some confidence. Last month I did my IELTS test and scored an 8 out of 9 in the speaking section. That was the moment when I was one step away from crying.
So yeah, that one incident with my friend helped me realize that I’m not weird, I’m just different.
I was bullied during the last quarter of seventh grade and ALL of eighth grade because I had entered a new school and was forced to endure the wrath of a group of girls whom I didn’t like, and they knew it. During the summer before ninth grade, I decided that it was time to fight back.
During the first week of ninth grade, I and one of the lesser members of the group of mean girls were in the bathroom. There may have been other witnesses, but I don’t remember them. I was at the sink minding my own business, when the mean girl said something nasty to me.
Little does she know; I turned a corner…
I stared at her in the mirror, and methodically turned off the water, reached for a towel, and dried my hands. I walked over to her until I was perhaps a few inches from her face and looked her in the eye.
In a very clear and confident voice, I said, “If you EVER say another word to me again, I will rip out your tongue and shove it up your behind”. She stared at me in speechless horror. I tossed the paper towel in the trash and left. I never had a problem with her or her friends again.
16. Mirror, Mirror
Growing up I had horrible self-esteem. I had no confidence in my looks or personality. I thought I was ugly, too short, too fat, too opinionated—too everything. I remember once I had been told to look in a mirror and say to myself “I am beautiful”.
It was so difficult that I broke down in tears—but my things would soon change for the better.
My friend and I got some psychostimulants and decided to enjoy a hot summer night by just hanging out and having a good trip. A couple hours in we noticed how huge our pupils were. We just stood there opening and closing our eyes, watching our eyes.
As I stared at myself in the mirror, I looked at my face and said out loud to myself, “You know, I’m really not that ugly”. As I said it, it somehow seemed different than all the other times that therapists had conned me into saying it before.
I repeated it repeatedly: “I’m not ugly. I’m not ugly. Hey! I’m not ugly!” I’ve been working on my confidence and self-esteem ever since then, but that night truly was the catalyst for my positivity journey.
17. Dad Wisdom
There was a man who used to do all the cleaning at my hostel. Whenever there was a festival like Diwali, he used to ask the boys for money. He would say, “Come on its Diwali. You must give to the people working for you”.
I didn't like that attitude and his constant requests made me feel more like not giving him anything.
One day I was on the phone with my dad, and I told him the whole story. First, he laughed about how I get so upset over little things. Then he said something that totally changed my perspective.
He said, “Kid, every father feels like he should earn a little more for his children”. Now, I am not yet a father, but the way my dad explained it made me agree with him. The next time I saw that man, I gave him the money before he even asked.
18. One Man’s Trash…
We were traveling to my aunt’s house and since it was so hot out, we bought a big bottle of water. After we drank it all, I decided to keep the bottle with me and recycle it when we got home.
When we stopped our car to buy some sweets, my dad opened the door and threw the water bottle on the road. I yelled, “Why you are throwing trash on the road? it's not fair!”
Before my dad closed the door, a scruffy elderly woman came and picked up the empty bottle.
I watched her through the window. When she saw my dad notice her, she said with an innocent smile, “I will use this empty bottle to drink water”. I started to feel guilty in the pit of my stomach. So many things were running through my mind.
After a few days, I still hadn’t forgotten that old woman. She changed my perspective on life. I wish there was some way that I could help change her situation. After much thought, I realized that even the smallest gesture can make a difference—to the planet and someone in need.
19. How Do You Like Them Apples?
I was walking down my street with my mom and little sister when we passed a house with an apple tree on its front lawn. Apples were scattered all over the grass, so I managed to pick one up without even stepping on the homeowner’s property.
“What on earth do you think you're doing? Get off my property! NOW! Who do you people think you are?” I looked up and saw an older man charging toward us and screaming. I'd never seen someone so enraged and full of hatred.
The homeowner said some terrible things to my mom, who didn't have the best command of English at the time. She is the most mild-mannered woman I know. As we started to walk away, he began to throw apples at us.
Even at that age, I knew that man reacted that way toward us because we were visible minorities. We were fresh off the boat. We were women. We could afford to buy a house in that neighborhood. But we certainly did not belong there, and he wanted us to know that.
After this incident, I became a lot less naive about how I was perceived by others. I was no longer blind to the prejudice that my parents quietly coped with so they could build a better life for my sister and me. I learned to rise above the hatred and just walk away.
20. Heavy Is The Head…
I was the makeup child, born nine months after my older sister’s passing. I always felt the dragging, stifling responsibility of being responsible for two lives. I was expected to carry my sister’s torch as well as my own, and if I failed, I would be failing her, myself, and my parents.
One day, when I finally said the words “make-up child” out loud, I realized how completely unfair and ridiculous the harness of that yoke was. I don’t think my parents consciously expected me to carry my sister’s weight. It was just kind of an accepted fact.
If I went to them and asked them about it now, I’m sure they would say they never expected such a thing, but then again, expectations can come in all sorts of hidden forms. The day I said the words out loud was the day that I said, “Enough!”
It happened on a day when I realized that I had married the man I was expected to marry and had followed the path I was expected to follow, but now I was finished being who I was expected to be.
Now, more than a year later, has it gotten easier to fight 45 years of expectations? Not exactly, but I’m trying. I’m trying to find out when my reactions are reactions and when my responses are responses.
I am reading and writing, learning, and exploring. I am living in a new city, single, and hoping for a rebirth. I only hope that all of this is not in vain, and I will emerge as a phoenix, or at the very least a little less like the chicken I used to be…
21. Friendly Fire
My friend leaned toward me and whispered, “She called you a pushover”. The “she” in question was my best friend of three years. The friend who I was in love with. The fact that she said something like that about me stung greatly, perhaps because I knew she was right.
For one, I always used to make it a point to not take part in any arguments, and I never fought for anything I wanted. Now, I usually wanted to defend myself so badly, but I found that I just couldn't. Why had my friend not told me this directly?
It hurt that she was willing to speak ill of me like that to other people instead of saying it to my face. I suddenly thought to myself: Forget it. If that’s what my own best friend thinks of me, then I certainly don’t want to be a pushover anymore.
The change wasn’t easy, but slowly I forced myself to speak my mind more, and I did not relent so easily when dealing with other people. I talked more and stood up for myself and other people more.
I started having more confidence in myself, just enough so that I wouldn’t be completely intimidated by the mere presence of other people.
I was discovering new sides of myself, most notably a snarky, more sarcastic side. I was suddenly hit by the realization that I liked the new me. Heck, I discovered that I was a Gryffindor at heart.
Now, I wouldn’t say that I’m no longer a meek little thing who shies away during any sort of confrontation, but I would say that I have grown a backbone, at least. That’s a big enough change for me.
So, thanks a bunch, former best friend who was talking about me behind my back. You changed me without trying.
22. Red Scare
During one school year, I was harassed by a teacher who thought my blonde hair and blue eyes were a sign of the devil. She hated me bitterly because, even though I’m Scottish, she considered me a living example of the evil that destroyed part of her family.
My teacher was a Holocaust survivor. I was an 11-year-old kid fresh off the farm. I also suffered from terminal shyness and blushed like a beet. My classmates found this very humorous so did our teacher.
She took great pleasure in making me blush and the students’ laughter made me blush even more. Today, a shy kid from the country might find some help but back in the 1960s, a kid couldn’t just go to the principal and say that the teacher was picking on him.
That teacher, combined with the fact that I was new to the city and going through serious hormonal changes had a huge impact on me.
For the rest of my life, I avoided situations where I was the center of attention. In college classes where students were paired together for a presentation, I did most of the work but when it was time to present to the class, well, I really skipped town for the day.
Yeah, I’m still messed up. Only in the past year did I figure out where I got jammed up.
23. Just Watch Me
One day while out riding my bike, I got hit by a car. I received massive trauma to my head and was in the ICU for three days. My memory was ruined. I couldn’t remember most of that year and would forget the topic of a conversation as it was happening.
I was gone…or if I changed my mindset, I was a completely new person. I went from having a 1.7 GPA in high school to having a 3.8 GPA and being on the dean’s list at university.
Everything changed that day. I now have a mindset where I believe that I have a profound effect on my surroundings and environment. I work hard because I believe it will pay off, and it does.
Before the incident, I was not as confident in my ability to enact change in any way I wanted. I’m going to make millions making the world a better place. So, sit back and watch.
24. A Novel Outlook
I know it sounds cheesy and unbelievable, but Les Misérables (the novel) changed my life. I read Les Misérables when I was 13.
I still remember how obsessed I became with the world that Victor Hugo had created—a world where unconditional love rose from the darkest moments and people were fighting for the noblest purposes.
Before Les Misérables, I was just a normal teen girl listening to the adults talking about how to have a more secure and comfortable life—you know, earning more money, buying more fancy things, living in bigger houses.
After Les Misérables, I learned that I could be much better, and that life could be so much more.
25. Plot Twist
I was on a street corner in a bad part of London, looking lost and staring at a map. From across the street, I eyed a group of thugs. They wore leather studs, dog collars, and chains, and had spiked hair and tattoos...the works.
One particularly tall and menacing member of the group made eye contact with me and deliberately headed right toward me. I figured I was a goner as I’m slight of build and completely incapable of defending myself.
As the thug approached, I tried to act cool, but my mind was reeling. When he finally got over to me, he said, “Pardon me, but you look a bit lost. Can I help you find your way”? Life. Changed. Forever.
26. Turning Point
I used to work as a software developer. I was a happy person. I used to joke around with my co-workers. Then I was transferred to a new project. I was totally clueless about the project but accepted that my employer wanted me to learn new skills.
Unfortunately, I faced difficulties, which affected the project.
It took me longer to complete my tasks and the IT manager I was working with was very rude. She would make fun of me in passive-aggressive ways—especially when she was with her group. They excluded me from every lunch and conversation.
I caught them making faces when talking to me.
This went on for six months. I realized I was depressed. I had started to hate going to work. I was always late. I couldn’t sleep at night. I no longer talked to my family. I started to drink a lot. I was scared to leave my house. My life went downhill. Sadly, I still carry this feeling but I’m still hoping for the best.
27. Painful Lesson
I broke my jaw. No, I didn’t get in a fight. It happened because of a sandwich. I was taking a bite of a sandwich and when I bit down on it, I broke my jaw. I could not eat any solid food for six months. I ate only yogurt during this time.
During this period, I realized that: If you are having a hard time, everyone else around you will continue with their life. You may feel stuck, but the world just flows on. I also realized that if you are in hardship, YOU are the one who can make your life better again.
We live only once, and we are given this body which does not exist and function fully forever. Time is valuable. When we are alive and well, we should strive to make something out of life, for ourselves.
28. Took Her Long Enough
When I was in eighth grade and my sister Emily was in sixth grade, we rode the same bus. There were these kids who would always tease her. They made fun of her red hair, the fact she doesn’t believe in God, her nose, and her body. They even used to call her Satan’s spawn.
Then one day, one of the girls said something that finally made me snap: “Emily why are you so ugly?” My sister, tears in her eyes, went to sit with her friends. I whipped around and started to scream at the kids.
“If you ever call my sister a name again, I swear on my life you will regret it. The only thing that is ugly on this bus is you and your pack of hyenas. So shut up or I’ll come back there and make you”.
I spat all that out causing my face to extremely go red. As I sat back down, I was met with applause from the other kids. Then the bus went silent and all you could hear from the back was, “Darn, she looks like a tomato.” Since this incident, I’ve realized how important it is to stick up for my family.
29. Performance Enhancing Medication
I got so sick that I almost died when I was in my teens. I was always getting teased at school because of the medications I was on and how they made me look. One day a boy from the football team started bugging me.
He leaned across the lunch table and quietly said some cruel things. Without looking up at him, I warned him to go away, or he would get hurt. He laughed and then leaned over and started in on me again.
Before he could finish his sentence, I reached up and grabbed his throat.
I looked up at him and told him to leave me alone. I then threw him back onto the lunch table behind him. I do not condone using force, but the medications I was on made me extremely strong. I never heard a peep out of him again.
My illness caused me to realize that I did not want to live the rest of my days putting up with such people. That stuck with me, past all the hurt and pain of my illness. I had fight in me. I also had restraint because I could have hurt him more than his pride.
30. DO Talk To Strangers
For most of my early years, I was extremely shy. I wouldn’t even look up most of the time as eye contact was extremely difficult. When I was 16, my sister and I were cruising Nevada Avenue and she forced me to talk to the guys in the car next to us.
She got me to do it by telling me that if I didn’t talk to them, she would yell, “She loves you!” I didn’t quite believe her, but she did yell and, of course, I was mortified! So, the next time she said, “Talk to him or else” ... I did!
I said, “Hi” and they smiled and said a friendly “hi” back. From then on, talking to people was easy for me. Soon, I started saying hi to people at school too. Then I got brave at work. From then on, I was able to look people in the eye and speak to them.
I’m not afraid of people's opinion of me at all—I just love being friendly!
31. A Dark Place
I was a very happy kid and as a teen, I was very active. One day when I was 16, I received a phone call from one of my cousins. She called me and said, “Please come here right now. Your brother has just ended his life.
When I heard her say those words, all the moments that I had enjoyed with my brother flashed in front of my eyes.
My brother was 26 when he did this. After it happened, my life went downhill fast. I started taking various substances and my father sent me to a rehabilitation clinic, which I left after the first month. I did so many things to destroy myself.
Now I’m 34 years old and I’ve been clean for almost eight years. I’m no judge, I can’t blame my brother for what happened to me. I always loved him deeply, but his passing left an unspeakable pain in me.
I saw everything and I can’t undo the images that I have from that night. As hard as it was, I have forgiven him and made peace with him.
32. Experience Is The Mother Of Wisdom
Everything changed when my mother asked me to move in with her. I live with my grandparents from my dad’s side and my uncle from that side too. My dad lives on the other side of my area.
My mother promised me that she would find a place in my area so that I could live with her and my stepdad, who I like more than my mom.
My dad wouldn’t let me move in with her, though. Later, I found out her devious secret—she had been planning to move me to an entirely different city and school, and that she only wanted me to move in with her so that she could get government benefits.
She moved in with her mother and had my half-brother within a year.
I felt so used. I was already deep into what I now consider my dark days. I was numb and empty. I spent my days wasting time, lying around in bed, and doing nothing. My depression and anxiety only worsened after realizing that my mother only wanted to use me.
I started having nightmares and I convinced myself that no one wanted me. I was paranoid that people just wanted to throw me away. I still am paranoid to this day. It’s a different kind of paranoia, though, because I know that I am loved.
Still, I always feel like there’s something bad lurking in my room or around the next corner.
33. Wake-Up Call
In twelfth grade, our class was taken on an educational trip to an institute dedicated to serving mentally disabled children. Some were handicapped and had severe ailments, while others faced mental or physical disorders.
Some couldn’t stand on their own while others couldn’t speak. Some couldn’t see while others couldn’t hear.
Whatever problem they had, they were still cheerful and playful. They were so innocent and had so much acceptance. Those little kids taught me a big lesson about how not to worry about things that you can’t control and to accept and make the best of those situations.
34. Lessons Learned
When my parents broke up, I had to step up and work hard. I got four different jobs and worked hard just to support myself and live independently, and I live in the Philippines. Now my hard work is paying off.
I was so busy working that I had no time to go to parties or be with friends as I used to.
I was too busy helping my parents and paying my rent and university tuition. This period of my life taught me to value money and time. I also learned that not all people will stick by you when you’re down. Only true friends will remain.
I’ll be graduating this March and have received a job offer, which I hope will help me in the future.
35. No Guarantees
When I was in University, me and my roommates welcomed an exchange student from the United States for one semester. We all had a great time with her and at the end of the semester, she went back to the States to finish her degree.
Several years later, I had an overseas experience and traveled all over the US, Canada, Europe, and Japan. As part of this trip, I tried to make every effort to catch up with all my friends and former flatmates.
As I was getting closer to the East Coast of the US, I exchanged a few emails and calls with my friend to see where and when we could catch up. Unfortunately, despite our attempts, my flight and her lecture schedules just didn’t work out.
A few months later, when I got back to my flat, I saw my flatmate crying and I learned that our American friend had perished. She was 21. Ever since that day, I always try to see my friends off (even if it is just driving them to the airport).
If I have any inclination, I don’t hesitate to tell someone that I love them. I decided to never let my last words to someone be “Next time,” because, sometimes, there isn’t one.
36. One Hand In My Pocket…
I am from a middle-class Indian family. Back in my hometown, as my parents’ only daughter, I was a very pampered child. My parents decided to send me abroad to study in Germany. I was scared—but it ended up changing my life.
While there, I learned what it feels like to live without the most important part of my life—my family.
It was still a great experience full of life lessons, though, some good and some bad. I learned to cook by myself. I still remember when I got a cut on my finger and there was no one to put turmeric on it. I realized then that I am the only one who can take care of myself.
There won’t always be someone to fix your hand, so just put your hand in your pocket and walk away. I am thankful to my parents for sending me abroad, or else I would probably just be a lazy child who is dependent on her parents.
37. He Is The Light
I grew up with a dad who I never could please. He was a former Marine, so he basically broke me but never built me back up. This happened up until I went to college. I was a decent golfer in high school and if I won a tournament, he would get mad at my score.
When I played basketball, I didn’t play well enough.
Then I went to the preppiest high school ever. If you didn’t have money or look like Tom Cruise, the girls would not even talk to you. So, my self-esteem was just about as low as it could get until, I started going to church. That’s when everything in my life turned around.
Once I turned my life over to Jesus Christ, I realized that I didn't have to please anyone anymore. Jesus sacrificed for my sins. My self-esteem came back. I found a wonderful wife at church, and we have been married for 25 years.
38. A Living Nightmare
When I was 19, I started dating a guy who was my age. Things went well the first few months until I told him to get off me and he wouldn’t. Because of my history of SA, he knew that if I asked someone to get away from me, I meant it.
It reminded me of some childhood incidents, and he knew better. Long story short, he soon started hitting me on multiple occasions, including both times I was pregnant, and one of the times he caused me to hemorrhage. I kept this mistreatment a secret for two long years.
After we finally broke up, my personality had totally changed for the better. Now I speak up for myself and no longer put up with any treatment that I DON'T DESERVE. I used to be very shy and would never ask for help, now I ask for help whenever I need it.
39. Moment Of Clarity
A few years ago, I was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. This disease slowly but relentlessly incapacitates the motor neurons that control your limbs, speech, swallowing, and breathing.
Suddenly, the vast expanse of years I thought I had laid out in front of me had been compressed to about three to five years.
The things I was in no rush to do before I was sick became urgent as I didn’t know how long I would be able to walk or pick up things. Most importantly, I have time to show (not just tell) my family how much I love them.
Before this diagnosis, I was often impatient with them and quick to anger on silly little things.
This is my bucket list: Be a better father. Be a better husband. Be a better son. Be a better brother. It saddens me that it took ALS to create this change. But it really doesn’t matter. Because what matters to me is what happens now.
40. No Lifejacket Required
I jumped into the water of my professional career in the year 2007. I had spent only a week in the US when my client told me that she was going on leave, and I would have to cover for her by facing auditors from PwC.
I was very nervous and had no idea how to handle such a situation. I had the subject matter knowledge, sure, but I had no experience handling such audits in person. I was terrified.
There were maybe eight or so Indians in that office and they had no idea of the kind of work we did in consulting. Asking for help from other American colleagues was not an option.
On the first day of the audit, I realized that the auditors were not monsters, they were human beings. They were appreciative of my subject matter knowledge and of the fact that I was new to their country and to the auditing process.
Day 2 was even better and, with each passing day, my confidence grew.
After the success of the audits, I never looked back. My seven months in the United States had changed my personality completely. It is true that “If you want to learn to swim, jump into the water”.
41. Eyes Wide Open
I’m a woman, now in my 50s. I had grown up trusting men unless a specific man showed clear indications that he was untrustworthy from the get-go.
I had grown up among educated, principled men, and assumed that the men I would meet as an adult in my professional and social circles would be similar.
A few years ago, an incident happened that changed my attitude. An older male colleague, the sort of textbook “nice older man” was sent to a prison for touching a boy in his early teens. At first, we thought it was a false accusation, but my colleague owned up to the action.
I was absolutely devastated. He had graduated from an Ivy League university, was devoted to his work, and was extremely involved with his church. He had a gentle, reflective disposition and even ended phone conversations with “God bless you”.
Now my formerly trusting attitude has been completely shattered. It is not as if I imagine that a monster lurks within each man, but I’m on my guard with each man I meet. It is more of a “defensive driving” approach.
I don’t know what they will do, so I had better be protective of myself in all circumstances.
Roughly 12 years ago, my cat crossed the rainbow bridge. It was a very emotional time for me. That was the last time I really cried for someone. I fell into a deep depression that lasted about a year and a half. It really made me bitter.
I recently had a reflective day and it made me more emotional about the whole situation. It evoked some emotions in me that have been probably closed off since my cat passed. Which has been a positive.
43. Rough Ride
Around five years ago, I was in Germany, and I was told to get out of a taxi and was shouted at my face in a language I did not understand because the driver thought I was a Gypsy who was planning to mug him and take his car.
This was the first time that I had experienced discrimination and it was one of the worst experiences I have ever had in my life. On that day, I screamed and cried nonstop after getting to my hotel. It was tough at the time, but that incident made me a better person.
That incident was my lesson on how NOT to treat someone. It is so wrong to arrive at a conclusion about someone based only on their appearance.
From that day onward, I do not even joke about someone’s differences based on their color, race, ethnicity, etc. Dear Taxi Driver: thank you.
44. A Shocking Side Effect
I had tuberculosis in 2012. My treatment lasted nine months. Every day I had to take my pills in front of a nurse. The medicine was very hard on my body, and I experienced many painful and scary side effects. At first, I was scared—but then something flipped.
After a while, though, I started doing what the doctors and nurses asked without complaining and I noticed that my thinking shifted. I started to be grateful for the experience and I started to realize that no matter what I was going through, someone always had it worse.
45. Simple Twist Of Fate
In 2014 my car was T-boned on a private road. I walked away with whiplash. A couple of days later, I had a manic episode which ultimately led me to a two-week stay in a hospital. I had been under great stress leading up to the accident and I had finally snapped.
Three years later, we come to the present day. I now take medication that works extremely well for my body, am active in my church, and my community.
Through all this, I have learned that family is one of the most important things in this short life and I am a better person because of all the trials I’ve been through.
46. Burning Question
In 2009, I went to North Korea. A professor from my university kept asking our guides if they were happy. The guides never directly answered him and always looked puzzled as he continued to persist with this question.
As he kept asking them about their happiness, I began to realize what a luxury it was to be able to ask myself this question. Now, before I ponder if I’m happy, I remind myself how blessed I am to even be able to ask myself such a question.
47. A Painful Lesson
At 10 years old, a teacher falsely accused me of leaving a jump rope on the playground. She assigned me the outrageous punishment of writing 5,000 sentences. I refused. She sent me to the principal’s office. That's when things got scary.
He used a wooden paddle to beat my buttocks and the backs of my legs 10 times.
I’ll never forget the smile on his face as he told me to bend over. I’ll never forget the agony of not being able to sit down. I’ll never forget the look on my mom’s face when she saw my bare butt on the way to the shower. It was black and blue from the butt to the back of my knees.
She asked my dad to deal with it, but he only stated that I needed to learn how to avoid trouble. I went from being a happy schoolboy to an absolute terror. I learned to evade teachers and anyone else in authority.
I played pranks on teachers, sabotaged equipment, let the air out of teachers’ car tires, put rotten onions in the piano, and more.
On days when I knew I would be caught, I executed a brilliant plan—I wore two pairs of pants and as many pairs of underwear as possible. I would fake cry when paddled and then give my schoolmates a smirk as I came out of the office.
After all, if I’m going to get punished for stuff I didn’t do, then by golly, I’m going to do as much mischief as possible and at least earn it.
This happened at a religious school. The paddling woke me up to the fact that these religious authority figures were tyrants. After that, I became an agnostic. I didn’t learn to be carefree and happy again until I had children of my own. They taught me how to laugh again.
48. Bear Witness
I was always aware of my dad's infidelities but to witness my father kissing our neighbor's wife was the last straw. It made me into an angry and troublesome child. I became the kid who always seemed to end up in the wrong place at the wrong time.
If there were family secrets to be found, I’d stumble on them. As a result, I have never had much respect for authority, I have trust issues, and I’ve had relationship troubles for most of my life.
49. Bitter Pill
I changed the morning the hospital called me and asked me if I had a DNR (do not resuscitate) order for my husband. At 6:30 am, his nursing home called me. The woman told me that my husband had fallen and bumped his head and was on the way to the ER.
I knew it was serious. I was afraid he would die. I got to the ER less than 30 minutes after the call. When I got there his brain had stopped functioning. He had no chance of surviving. He wasn’t an old man, he was 70, a very young 70. I was 57. He didn’t need to perish.
I held him in my arms when he took his last breath. I am forever changed. Little things don’t upset me anymore. I live every day like it could be my last. I’m kinder to people, even those I don’t know. I’ve also removed myself from negative situations and people.
I am happier now. I have no desire to be anything but myself. I pray a lot more. I thank God for bringing me out of my deep hole of sadness and depression. I’m a better person. I’m kinder and more understanding.
50. Be Grateful
I met that evening was a 30 year old lady with gangrene of her right hand, was in excruciating pain and was going to have an amputation of that hand! And she could not afford a prosthetic hand that cost just 50,000 INR because the husband flat out refused to pay for it.
This made me realize how silly I was getting upset over losing a dress when I had 50 more! I have fully functioning body parts, a family that loves me so much and a dream career!
That day I decided that I was never ever going to mourn the loss of replaceable objects in my life, no matter how precious or expensive they were. And I really started appreciating all those irreplaceable things I have and how lucky I am to have them!