Change isn’t easy. Long-term results take work and—yelp!—the courage to ask for help. Most of us aren’t so lucky as to have every resource needed to turn our lives around. Perhaps that’s why stories of overnight transformation are so appealing. Of course, a short story can’t capture all the work and support from friends and community which goes behind every life change.
Nevertheless, these tales of seemingly radical turnarounds are sure to make us feel more hopeful about the future. Read on as Redditors dish on the quickest ways they’ve seen people change their lives for the better.
1. A Doctor a Day (or Once) Keeps the Cardiac Arrest at Bay
A guy I know constantly looked so tired and napped all the time during the day. He would nap so hard that you would have to shake him to wake him up, and he could fall asleep anywhere super-fast. I asked him about it, and he told me he felt tired all the time because he couldn’t sleep at night; he figured he just had insomnia or something but refused to go to a doctor about it.
One day, he had a legit mental breakdown after a few drinks, we basically had to babysit him all night and I’m convinced it was because of his constantly exhausted state. Not long after that incident, he went to the doctor about his sleep and it turns out he had been living with severe sleep apnea for years. The doctor told him he was basically on the verge of a heart attack or stroke because of it.
Now he sleeps with a special mask at night and he has completely changed for the better. He visibly has way more energy, and his performance in school went through the roof. I can’t stress enough how much getting treatment helped my friend. It’s fortunate such a debilitating condition has an effective and immediate treatment available for it, so, by all means, go check it out! Take care.
2. Now That’s Direct Action
Worked with a guy at AutoZone who had two set of kids and two sets of child support payments. He worked 40 hours with us and then 30-40 at a grocery store, just killing himself to survive. Turns out that he was like nine hours away from a degree he had begun a decade earlier and he just randomly mentioned it to a coworker while they were stocking things.
The managers at both stores knew his situation and worked his schedule together to get him the hours he needed. They started a tuition fund that anyone could donate to and both sat him down to say he needed to finish his school. The school put together a pre-req class for him, which he got an A in, and off he went, one class at a time.
One year later, he walked across the stage with a marketing degree and turned his whole life around at 41 or 42.
3. Why Trade in Pills When You Can Just Trade?
I had a friend who had an addictive personality. He was incredibly smart but liked to party too much. During junior year of high school, he got into a car accident, broke some bones, and got addicted to the pills he was prescribed. He spiraled downwards after that and barely made it out of high school. Most people lost contact with him and thought he would just be another lowlife.
A few years after high school, one of our mutual friends committed suicide and he took it very hard, but it was enough to change his attitude. He took up an interest in investments and decided to move away from his burnout friends to attend a college. He graduated in less than four years and ended up working for a reputable bank earning six figures, and now he’s always posting his luxurious vacations on Facebook.
It was a crazy turn around for him.
4. With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemies?
My lifelong friend went down the heroin/jail path in his early 20s. His personality was always to “Go with the flow,” for better or worse. He became part of a terrible group of people who routinely did awful stuff in order to score. Imagine robbing your own grandmother—that caliber of desperation. After a stint being locked up and getting clean, he stopped talking to anyone from that group.
No communication whatsoever, cold turkey. Lived with his mom, found a job he could walk to since his driver’s license was long gone, and started getting in shape physically. He did counseling, broke his heroin habit, and got into martial arts as a positive outlet for his energy. Talking to him now, he says breaking contact with all those people was the only way he made it out.
5. You Can Count on Yourself
About five years ago, I started doing this little mental trick: if there was some small thing I needed to do, I just counted to three in my head and did it. Stuff like “1, 2, 3: put on my workout clothes,” “1, 2, 3: empty the dishwasher,” “1, 2, 3: answer that email,” “1, 2, 3: turn the TV off.” I promised myself that every “1, 2, 3” would be something I could achieve in less than 10 minutes and that I would never fail to do something once I finished the countdown.
I was amazed at how many of life’s problems were solved by overcoming those little moments of inertia during the day. My level of motivation before and after that shift was night and day. It made a huge difference in my health, career, financial state, etc. I know it probably sounds silly, but my life made a massive and quick change for the better once I adopted this strategy.
6. Pedal to the Mettle
One week in high school, I decided that I would go for a bike ride every day after school. Massive improvement in attitude and motivation. I began to like school more, got my homework done earlier, and I also got into shape, which was an added bonus.
7. Better Out Than In
Might sound weird, but…they spent a night in jail. A friend of mine had been a little bit of a screwup the past few years. Good kid at heart but had a terribly addictive personality and was hanging out with crummy people, in debt to all his friends because he was buying way too many drugs and way too much alcohol, lost one of his two jobs for showing up high too much, you get the idea.
He just sucked at saying “no” to people and his self-control suffered for it. Well, he ended up getting a DUI, and as part of the punishment, he had to spend the night in jail. I never used to believe in the whole “scared straight” thing, but it seriously worked. I picked him up the next day and he looked like he’d seen a ghost.
Just kept saying, “I never want to end up like the people I saw in there, man” and shaking his head. It’s been almost a year since then, and he’s been totally on the straight and narrow. Got a promotion at work, is making rent on time, I haven’t seen him have more than a couple beers in a sitting in that time. He hasn’t really elaborated on what he saw that night besides a couple of stories about some real tweakers, but whatever it was, I guess it set him straight.
8. Trade Him in For a Decent Model
My sister was in a really toxic relationship with a complete basket case. Dude was a wannabe tough guy and was always putting her down. She is a very outdoorsy person and loves going on hikes, working in the forest, and is studying to become a forestry biologist. He had zero of her interests, never went with her on hikes, hated the forest, not very fond of animals.
They never ever got along but refused to break up because it’d leave him with nothing. One day, she meets a nice guy at her new job who’s super into hiking, loves working in the forests, loves animals almost as much as she does, and genuinely enjoyed her company. Not to mention he bought his own truck with money he saved up (It was a used Toyota, but still impressive).
I think that was a wake-up call for her. I think she realized there are decent men out there and she could have one if she wanted to. She immediately broke up with her old boyfriend and started dating the new guy the same day. We were a little worried at first because breaking up with one guy and immediately going to another is usually a bad sign.
But after getting to know him, he ended up being a nice guy with a sense of humor and decent social skills. They’ve been together three or four years now and so many of the issues my sister was dealing with have dissipated, she’s more financially independent, doing well in her classes, has a better outlook on life.
9. Dial 1 to Save Your Life
A very close friend of mine decided to call me at 3 AM, sobbing uncontrollably, word vomiting about all of the problems he was facing. I sat there and talked to him until around 10 AM. We went that afternoon got him checked into some rehabilitative care. Fast forward a year to having lunch with him and having him grab my hand, half sobbing, telling me that my answering the phone is what stopped him from shooting himself.
Please, be like my friend. If you are ever struggling, please. Just make a call. To anyone.
10. Welcome to Your New State of Being
Moving to a new state and starting over. It’s short term and if you don’t keep doing the work necessary to improve, you will slide into old behaviors. But just riding the novelty of it all in the beginning can set you up nicely. A fresh start can’t happen when you’re doing the same old things.
11. The Future is On the Internet
My coworker dropped out of high school and basically just became a druggie until he was about 21, working odd jobs and occasionally being homeless. After that, he decided to take a brief web development course (I think it was an intense nine-month course or something, basically a full-time job) and now he works in web development with me.
He’ll sometimes mention how he thinks my four-year degree is impressive, how he regrets wasting all his time, etc. But I think it’s pretty impressive to go from where he was to being in the same career as me.
12. Do the Math: You’re Not Heading Places
In middle school, there was a guy who was always goofing around in class, would get in trouble a lot, and didn’t seem to care about school at all. Once high school came around, he was suddenly taking advanced calculus classes and ended up getting into a really good school after graduating. I always wondered what caused the change, until one year there was a little snippet in the yearbook about him.
He said that his cousin basically just told him to stop messing around and start caring about school or else he wouldn’t end up in a good place in life, so that’s what he did.
13. Uncouple Yourself from Bad Habits
My dad left my mom, and she was solidly depressed for a year. Then suddenly she exploded with self-improvement. She joined a bunch of volunteer positions, met a bunch of new people, became part of the “in” crowd in her city, literally goes out every night with her friends, and has a lover who pays for her trips to Europe, where they travel around on a motorcycle.
Also, she joined a gym and lost a bunch of weight, started taking care of her appearance. It’s strange to think just a couple years ago I would hear her sobbing in the shower and now she’s this powerhouse! This didn’t happen overnight, there were a lot of downers I left out and it took a whole lot of freaking effort on her part and some therapy, but my mom has always been very strong and able to lift herself out ruts.
She’s not the perfect person or mother, but I can only aspire to someday be the extraordinary woman that she today. My father has his faults and may not have turned his life around so drastically, but I look up to him as well.
14. Maybe the Real Legendary League is Outside
He stopped playing League of Legends. No, seriously. A friend of mine used to spend basically all of his free time in LoL. If he wasn’t sleeping, eating, or in class, he was in a game. And the weird part was that he didn’t actually seem to enjoy playing, either, like it was compulsive or something. No matter if he won or lost, he’d be crabby about it.
Even in the rare instance where he wasn’t playing a game and got invited to a social event, his sleep schedule was so messed up he usually wouldn’t make it anyway. He finally decided to try giving it up for Lent, and just never went back once he realized how much of a negative effect it’d been having on him. He started eating better (because he wasn’t just going for whatever microwave crap he could eat while playing), exercising (because now he had time and energy to do so), taking care of his appearance better (because why would he have shaved, showered regularly, and done laundry when he was just sitting in his room all day?), sleeping a normal amount, and actually connecting with people beyond just seeing them in class.
The transformation was honestly impressive. He went from one of the most stereotypical depressed neckbeard freshmen I’ve ever met to a happy, healthy college kid in the span of a couple months.
15. Don’t Drop off the Face of the Earth
I knew a guy in my Master’s program who was overworked to the point of exhaustion. He had to keep a job as well to pay for all his bills and student loans, on top of taking five high-level classes per quarter. We had an e-mail chat group with me, him, and like five others. One day, we all get an e-mail from him saying he was sorry he wasn’t going to be able to help us finish our project and that he was dropping out of school and we wouldn’t see him again.
All of us really liked the guy and we told him as such. We also told him things he probably didn’t hear too much, like “you are a vital part of our group” and that we relied on him for not only his work but his general input as well. A few hours later, he e-mailed us back saying he thought it over and was not going to drop out, and he was sorry for clogging our e-mail feed with his stuff.
A year or so later, his GF (who became a mutual friend) told us that not only was he simply thinking about dropping out of school at the time of the e-mail, but actually walked to a bridge to end his life that day. He’s a high-level manager at Amazon now with a wife and two kids. It’s fun to check up on him from time to time and see how happy he now is.
I don’t know if us just showing him gratitude that day helped him step away from the edge, but I’m sure it helped at least a bit. It makes you realize that people just don’t tell other people how grateful they are for them enough. Always let people know the nice things you are thinking of them.
16. Advice You Can Take to the Bank
About 10 years ago, a guy walked into my credit union, sat down at my desk and said, “I need help.” He sure did. Dude had thousands and thousands of dollars in high interest, unsecured debt. This debt was costing him over a thousand dollars a month in payments. He and I got to work. We consolidated, we refinanced, and we had a fun little credit card execution ceremony.
All said and done, we saved him about $500 a month in payments. We put together a plan to use half the savings to continue putting toward the debt for a snowball effect, and to save the other half in an account I would lock up for him. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. I saw him at a community event. He told me he is completely debt-free (including his house) and has savings for his children to go to college.
We hugged and chatted. He never did give me a secret gold coin or grant me three wishes, but I was beaming like a star, so that’s good.
17. No Shame In Needing Attention
Last year in school I was making really, really bad grades. Wouldn’t have passed if not for the mercy of my teachers. I posted on Reddit about my aversion to work and the intense sense of dread I get just knowing I have to do something for school. Some Redditors suggested I might have ADHD. I got prescribed Vyvanse almost immediately after going to the doctors and I am now in my junior year of high school doing great.
Last year’s GPA was a 2.6. This year’s is a 4.2.
18. Drop That Emotional Baggage
Managed an apartment community where one insanely obese man splintered the bottom of his shower from simply standing on it. We replaced it at no charge, but the embarrassment got to him. Within a week, he found a dietician and started walking around the community. Within a few months, he bought a bike and started riding around the neighborhood.
Within a year, he dropped what seemed to be at least 100 lbs. Within two years, he weighed less than I do now. Casey, if you happen to see this (and I know you’re a Redditor), you’re a freaking inspiration! Keep at it!
19. This One Goes Out to You, Mom
There was a guy I knew in high school; he was a nice guy but a stoner and not going far. Sadly, his mom died suddenly at the start of our second last year. I watched the guy quit all drugs, stop overeating, and start being serious. By the end of that year, he’d dropped something stupid like 50 pounds and was super serious about his future. He ended up with a scholarship to some pretty good school by the end of our tenure in high school.
I was really happy for him, seeing him make that turnaround.
20. Not Without My Kids
My old coworker used to be on every drug under the sun, especially heroin. She was in and out of jail, she lost her driver’s license, house, friends, etc. Finally, she got to the point where she almost lost her kids and then she decided that she wasn’t going to do it anymore. She stopped using and she got a job (with my old place of work) and she really was one of the best workers we had.
She ended up getting her license back and got a house with her boyfriend. She had a baby girl and now she’s working in a nicer restaurant. It honestly made me proud. She’s a strong ass woman.
21. It’s Okay to Put Yourself First
Being selfish. I grew up watching my mother bend over backward for people that did not give a darn about her. A few years ago, I realized I was doing the same thing and was an emotional/financial/functional mess because of it. I re-examined my life and cut off the people who didn’t need to be there—it was difficult getting over the guilty mentality at first but I’m doing great now and really proud of the progress I’ve made.
I just wish my mother would do the same.
22. Any Bad Habit Can Be Rewired
In 10th grade, I sat next to a boy in history class who was known for doing hard drugs. I knew him from math class the previous year, and we talked every day about anything and everything. I came from a police family and this was the first time in my life when I realized that drugs don’t make a person bad. One day, he just snapped out of it and stopped doing drugs and drinking.
Last I checked he’s still clean and works as an electrician.
23. Breathe Easy Now
For years, I was constantly exhausted. I coughed all through the night, woke up feeling like I hadn’t slept at all, and dropped out of school sports because they made me feel like I was going to die. By the time I was in college, I thought being tired was just part of my personality. As an adult, I was diagnosed with asthma.
I went on maintenance medication and, within a couple of weeks, I felt like a completely different person. Holy moly! Turns out sleeping is supposed to be restful. I never knew!
24. Don’t Get Too Sweet on Yourself
Sugary drinks and time management. When I was in high school (a stress-inducing school because it was demanding and for gifted students), I needed Coca Cola almost every morning because I felt the need for energy all the time. When I’m studying for tests? Monster Energy drinks that kept me awake for 24 hours straight to cram meaningless numbers and words into my head.
When I moved to the US for college, I have more time to rest and organize my time more efficiently since classes only take up half of the day and not from 6 AM to 10 PM like in Vietnam. I’m also too broke to afford sugary drinks so I turn to the cheapest solution: sleep for seven hours every night and take an occasional nap during the day.
For tests night I use one shot of espresso. Dropped 10 pounds (which is 1/13 of my body weight so it’s a big deal for me) and my skin is glowing and lively. Sugar is a drug and it’s hard to drop it, but it’s not impossible!
25. It’s The Basic Needs That Matter
There are two ways that come to mind for me: Starting treatment for depression and getting a job that greatly increases your previous income. Firstly, starting treatment for depression really helps a lot of people and since the meds can work in as short as a week or two, it’s good to see some friends and even myself feel more normal again.
And the second one seems obvious, but it’s not just financial. It seems to really increase self-confidence and self-esteem when people achieve a better financial position (considering financial issues these days, I’m not surprised). Often, it’s seen as a catalyst to make other changes when they start feeling good about themselves and have better income—pay off debt, buy a house, increase charitable giving, etc.
Moving up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a good thing.
26. I Don’t Want to Leave Like This
Not personally, but I heard one of my teacher’s stories about his brother. Dude did a ton of meth, was violent towards friends and family, spent lots of time in jail, and was just a general douchebag. The teacher and his completely disowned him. Then, the teacher’s brother got into an accident with a severe head injury and almost died. Guy did a 180 after he healed.
He believes that his near-death experience brought about his change of feelings, but I’ve been around a lot of people with traumatic brain injuries. That stuff changes you on a biological level. Getting your grey-matter rearranged changes you into a different person. This just happens to be one time where it did it for the better thankfully.
27. Fooling Around on the Web Pays Off
I met my boyfriend randomly in an online game. We became best friends. I lived 800-900 km away from him. His parents offered me a job and now I work and live in a completely different country. I used to work in a dead-end factory with no future. Life is finally good. Don’t be scared to try moving away if that’s what you want.
Maybe I got lucky, but in my case, it worked out.
28. It’s a Long Way Up from the Bottom
I was a terrible kid. I got suspended every other month from the third grade until the seventh grade and the school system gave up on me and sent me to a delinquent school. After being surrounded by people who I knew would never amount to anything (evident by high school seniors in my same math class in the seventh grade), I decided I would stop being a little freaking jerk right there. Was the fastest kid ever to leave that school and return to a regular curriculum.
In ninth grade, I realized I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life and felt like a failure all over again. Spiraling depression, stopped going to school, failed half my classes. Blah blah. After 36 absences, I had to go so summer school to retake English. During this time, I thought about going into the military after college, which meant not only did I have to make it into college, I also needed a good GPA and be competitive—at least if I wanted in the airforce.
Went from a 1.8 GPA to a 3.2 the next year. Then I found out I could do my senior year abroad in another country, and my whole world opened up. I realized the cause of my depression and why I felt trapped. I freaking despised home and everyone there. I didn’t fit in, I wasn’t challenged, I was alone, and I felt like I wanted to do something different than my whole family.
To prove to them that I wasn’t the screwup joke of my family, I was going to be better than all of them. I waited a couple months before I broke the news of my intentions having researched and tried hard to improve everything about me. None of them believed I could do it. I proceeded to get into the best youth exchange program in the world. Completely changed who I was. Was the top of the language class with 102% as a final grade.
Went abroad, paid for it my freaking self (family was poor), and was the most successful of my group. Returned on two more programs at the top universities in the country with a full scholarship in college, which is only given to two people per school. Now I’m working in sales at a great company in that country doing something I’d never thought I’d ever do in my life.
Only to prove that I could to every jerk who said I couldn’t.
29. All It Takes Is Prince Charming
Me. I was very poor and basically living in poverty. I was living in an apartment that was subsidized, and so I paid less than $100 for it. It was very cheap for the expensive city I lived in, which meant it also came with bedbugs. It was HELL living there. I went days without eating, waiting until I was allowed to use a food bank again. Life just sucked because of how poor I was.
Anyway, my best friend bought a condo and told me I could move in with him to get away from the bed bugs. I moved in with him and paid him the very little money I got in exchange for room and board. He paid all the bills, fed me and bought me clothes; he basically gave me everything I needed to live comfortably. A year after moving in, my best friend of six years proposed to me.
We have been married for eight years now and I am no longer poor. I never worry about money or food now. So, I basically went from being piss poor and having nothing one day, to living very comfortably and not worrying about money or bedbugs the next.
30. You’re the Only Drug I Need
I’m really good friends with my two neighbors who are a married couple. We partied together for a long time, but they always partied way harder than everyone else. They would get blackout drunk on work nights, do a bunch of coke, get DUIs, etc. I would often be witness to their intense drunken arguments with each other and our group of friends worried that they might divorce.
The dude even set his kitchen on fire one night while cooking drunk. One day last year, out of the blue, they decided to cut it out. They quit everything. No more drinking, no drugs, no cigarettes, and they started eating clean. Since then, they’ve been promoted at their jobs, seem to be closer than ever to one another, and even dropped close to 100 pounds.
They’ve saved a bunch of money and now they’re on vacation in Thailand having the time of their lives. Our friend group still parties moderately so we don’t see them at all as often anymore, but I understand. I’m just so proud of them for turning their lives around like that, it’s really kind of inspiring me to do the same.
31. A Solider Always Looks Out for Their Own
There was a guy in my unit when I first showed up as a brand new private. His nickname was Hoffinator. We never really talked too much, just worked together, but he taught me a lot in regards to being a good soldier and how to do our job efficiently. He got out around five months after I got to the unit. I got out of the army in October 2015.
I knew he had moved to my area of Florida, so I decided to shoot him a message and see what’s up once I remembered that. He called me a few days later and I could barely hear anything he was saying because of wind. He told me he was on his apartment balcony smoking a cigarette. I wasn’t in the middle of anything when he called, so I just sat down and started talking to him we talked for over an hour.
I invited him to come drink with a few buddies of mine that upcoming weekend and he accepted. That was in February 2016. He told me a few weeks ago that when he called me that night, he was standing on an I95 overpass, planning on jumping into traffic to commit suicide. He said he called a bunch of guys from our unit and that I was the only one who picked up.
He did say that two other guys called him back later, though. He’s an EMT/paramedic now, is dating a wonderful girl, and says he’s never been so happy before in his life. I just wanted to catch up with the guy who taught me a lot of stuff when I was a dumb private. I didn’t know I was talking him off the edge, but I’m so incredibly happy he called me that night.
Please, if you’re dealing with bad stuff in your head or life seems to just be taking a fat, steaming dump on you: Talk to someone. Anyone at all. Hell, message me and I’ll talk to you.
32. Never Too Late to Turn Around
My sister drank socially for the first time when she was 12 and did cocaine for the first time at 14. 14 years passed, and with them went two teenage abortions, five cars totaled, more money for cocaine than I care to think about, and quite a few weekends in jail. That is until January five years ago when she got her FIFTH DUI.
The next morning when I picked her up, she said she going to turn her life around and was quitting everything. I can’t say I believed her; I was 23, so she had been addicted to cocaine for more than half my life. But she did it. She quit drugs and alcohol that day, cold turkey. She became a regular at NA and AA, got a landscaping job while paying a lawyer to continue her case as long as possible.
It was a year before she finally went to court, so she had a year of NA/AA and great character references from her job under her belt. The judge gave her weekends in jail so she could keep her job. Now she and her husband are sober, they have a three-year-old and two horses, and I’m so proud of her.
33. Birth Parentage Isn’t a Binding Contract
I had a mental breakdown in spring during my junior year of college. I wasn’t doing well in my classes, so I withdrew and went into some therapy. My mom (who is a narcissist) flipped out, of course, and said many horrible things to me. I had just been learning about NPD and how it affected my family from r/raisedbynarcissists, so I was able to brush it off.
I really wanted to end my contact with her though, I just wasn’t able to. I never ended up re-enrolling in school. At a music festival, I had some powerful realizations: that I really just wanted to be happy, that I needn’t be rich, and that I can remove myself from my family at will. I got a full-time job as a server with some of the best people I have ever met.
My managers are excellent, the pay is excellent. I live in an apartment with my boyfriend and our one-year-old puppy. With financial stability, I have started to pay for everything myself without struggling. I taught myself how to budget. Then, I cut contact with my parents completely. My five-year plan: I want to earn a bit of bartending experience before I move to Vegas in 2020, so that I can bartend out there. Once I am able to, I will start to set up my own business selling succulents and cacti.
I just had to share because even though I am following a different path than many, I have never been happier or more stable. I finally feel free. One year.
34. Without You, Heaven is a Place on Earth
I was raised in a cult. Basically, every bad stereotype you’ve heard about “that creepy homeschooling family”… that was me. I had no friends outside of the cult, because all outsiders were evil. I was forced to stay home to work and take care of other children all day because training to be “a good helpmeet” was more important than education or social skills.
I was trained for my inevitable torture, starvation, and martyrdom under a One World Government. “Demons” were everywhere: in objects outside, in toys and books that people gave me, in the faces of people who tried to befriend me. Even I was “exorcised” several times. Basically, I was taught that the world was out to kill me, and it would probably succeed, but that was okay, because I’d get to Heaven sooner.
I didn’t know what it was like to dream of a future where I would grow old. I didn’t know what it was like to trust another human being, to see an open hand and expect a caress instead of a slap. I didn’t know that little girls like me weren’t supposed to be beaten, assaulted, and punched. How could I know, when that was my first memory?
And even at that moment, at four years old, the only thought in my mind was “Oh, not this again.” I didn’t know that I was allowed to think for myself, that I could have a life where I could be free and happy, and never fear for my life again. That was the Heaven I wanted…the Heaven I didn’t deserve. Then, about four years ago, I somehow made one outside friend.
She treated me like an actual human being, and I finally realized how messed up my life was, that it was wrong and horrifying and it was going to kill me. So, I ran away. I got into university with nothing, and I busted my ass. I wore the same clothes until they fell apart. I starved myself to afford classes. All on that single thread of hope, that I had a friend in the world who thought I was worth something.
Soon I was on the honor roll, getting scholarships, awards, and recognition. Nobody knew I was homeless, wearing the same clothes from high school. That sometimes after school I spent the evening crying and trembling weakly under my blankets, trying not to panic as flashbacks consumed my mind.
Today, I just finished my first year abroad, at one of the best universities in the world. I can never thank my advisors enough for teaching me and helping me adjust to living in a new country, when just four years ago I didn’t even know how to live independently in my own country. But things are getting better. I’ve made a lot of friends, even had a few romantic interests.
I’ve become a mentor for other foreign students. And when I graduate soon, I have a government job waiting for me in my new home. I’m finally free, and the world isn’t out to hurt me. This is the Heaven I always wanted.
35. Get High on Stability
I was a heroin addict for 10 years—we’re talking hundreds of dollars a day and at one point I began selling heroin to support my habit and that blew up and was more successful than I ever thought it could be…if you call that success. It also fueled addiction even harder as that whole lifestyle is more addicting than the drug.
To make a long story short: got busted due to a snitch. I continued my addiction for a few months after but one day, I was laying in my house with nothing to eat but a bag of chips and some Dr Pepper. No electricity. No running water. No gas. Nothing. I decided right there, enough was enough. Within 90 days, I had a job paying $65k, a car, and I was learning to live again on life’s terms.
October 14, 2013 is my clean date. Fast forward to the present day, I make more than two times what I did in 2013, drive a new BMW, have a nice house, and got married in August. Life isn’t perfect, but it’s still grandiose and much better than my old me. The gift of desperation changes many things.
36. You Can’t Build a House of Grass
I have recently stopped smoking weed. Not because I have anything against it, but I realized that not only was my personal use unhealthy, it was also stopping me and my partner from moving forward. We were trying to save for a house and limiting spending on everything, except I was spending $250 every two weeks, literally up in smoke.
I realized it was our house deposit I was smoking and decided to make a change. After around seven years of habitual use, it was an intimidating prospect, but I decided enough was enough. Since then, I have saved every dollar I would have spent on green and all of a sudden, our dream of our own house is becoming a reality.
This has already improved my quality of life dramatically and I look forward to seeing if this trend continues.
37. The Real School is Life
One of my part-time employees was going to school because his parents made him. He freaking hated it. He wanted to make his trade his profession, and installing tile floors didn’t really facilitate a degree. About a year before he graduated, he invited me out to lunch and asked if he could go full-time. I said that would be great, but I told him that we were all pretty excited for him to graduate.
After the semester was over, he told me he was ready. He worked full-time for me for about three more years, started his own business, got married to his high school sweetheart, and popped out a kid. I’m so freaking proud of him. He calls me once a few months to thank me for giving him the opportunity.
38. To the Gut of the Issue
By getting bariatric surgery. Before surgery, my anxiety was always sky high and I had regular bouts of depression, both a direct result of how I felt about my body. I felt so stuck and hopeless. I was already active but couldn’t seem to get my eating under control and constantly yo-yo dieted. I finally said, “Screw it.”
I went to Mexico, paid cash for the surgery, and lost lots of weight in a short amount of time. Here I am two years later, have kept every pound I lost off, gone are my anxiety and depression, I have run countless miles, become a blackbelt in taekwondo, moved states, switched careers, and look fabulous in a bikini. I have never been healthier.
My entire life drastically changed from that one decision to have 85% of my stomach removed!
39. Delete an Account to Make Your Life Full
I deleted Facebook and drastically changed the way I use other social media. God knows how long I used to spend every day just scrolling through Facebook, but I didn’t realize how unhappy it was making me until I stopped using it. I thought I would miss it, but I haven’t for one second, and I’ve seen massive improvements in my mood, anxiety and overall happiness.
It’s a weird freeing.
40. All It Takes is “Sorry”
Apologizing to someone I’d hurt. It changed me and my life drastically, and that’s not hyperbole. I married the person I apologized to and now have a completely different life than I did before. Everything may not be perfect, but my home is with him. Nothing can heal a soul so much as being forgiven.
41. Scout’s Honor
I joined the Boy Scouts when I was eight or nine years old. I was having mental issues from being bullied, and the activities and volunteer work made me feel way better about myself. Once I’m out of college, I’m most likely going to rejoin as an adult.
42. Better Off Without You
I have a friend who dumped and divorced her ex-husband a couple years ago. It was an abusive relationship where the ex would call her ugly names, push/hit her, taunt/belittle her intelligence (she is very smart, even though she only has a high school education), and that’s just the start of the disgusting things he did to her. The kicker is he’s an alcoholic and is worse as a drunk.
He even treated their two boys like garbage and denied his youngest they had together, but luckily the courts did a DNA test and proved the child was his. The worst part was, he almost killed her when she was pregnant with their youngest on Christmas Eve one year. He got sent to jail for months. I saw it firsthand after the incident, and she so was terrified/visibly shaken—she was seeing her life flash before her eyes after just barely escaping death, and it was on Christmas.
It took her until late 2016 to get OUT and leave that sorry jerk. She just took her kids and ran (I mean LITERALLY RAN) from the house to her friend’s car, who was waiting for her after she finally called for help. She jumped in and told him DRIVE, and never went back. The friend is now her husband. He’s a total gentleman and he treats her 10 times better than her ex ever did.
Even her kids see him as a better father figure and even call him “Dad.” The eldest is aware of his biological father but doesn’t want to acknowledge him, and the younger child has zero memories of their life before. My friend and her new husband now have a house together. He has a great job where my friend can be a stay-at-home-parent to their kids and recently welcome a baby boy in September 2018. Life has been good since she left the ex.
Once, she told my boyfriend that if she would’ve stayed for one more week, even one more day, she probably wouldn’t have made it out. She was terrified of being killed by her ex, leaving her kids without a mom. Since getting out, she’s thanked everyone who told her to leave and has been happy ever since. As for the ex, a judge ordered him to pay child support until their youngest son (who is now a middle child now) turns 18.
He got mad and didn’t want to pay child support, or even acknowledge either of their children, and threw a tantrum. But too bad: he lives in another city and has to work to pay child support since NONE of his family is helping him out. Screw that low-life jerk. All in all, that’s the fastest way I saw someone’s life improve in a positive way.