Nothing in life is constant. We live in a world where nothing can be taken for granted and where drastic change can occur at any time without warning. For better or for worse, there’s no denying that change has an effect on people—and that some changes can leave people entirely different than they found them. For people whose lives were dramatically transformed by a change of some kind, there is often one precise moment they can point to that either redefined who they are, forced them to adjust their perspective, or altered the course of their lives from then on.
Here are 42 stories about those kinds of moments.
42. Ignorance is Bliss
My life hasn’t been the same since the day my husband confessed his numerous affairs to me. I had absolutely no idea. I was blissfully happy in the marriage and thought he was too. I was completely blindsided.
Now, I don't see how I could ever trust any man in any relationship again.
41. Things Can Change in an Instant
My life changing moment was the birth of our son—specifically, minutes after the birth of our son, when they found my wife full of cancer.
Life has been pretty lousy ever since. On the bright side, the kid is great.
I almost choked to death as a child at an IHOP. A doctor who had been eating at the next table saved my life by performing the Heimlich, then nonchalantly sat back down to finish his meal. My grandma was still flipping out. From that moment on, I wanted to be like that guy and have modeled my behavior after his example for my entire adult life.
39. A Tale of Two Countries
Traveling out of the country for the first time changed my life. I'm from an ultra-conservative part of Texas, so living in Switzerland for a few months was probably the best thing for the development of my worldview. I'm way more open-minded and culturally aware now than I was before, and for that, I'm pretty grateful. Plus, it gave me my new favorite hobby.
I'll be visiting countries 25-28 this summer!
38. Farewell, Dad
My father’s death. I was 20 when he died eight years ago, yet those eight years feel as long as the 20 before.
37. Slack No More
I got kicked out of college after three semesters of slacking off, oversleeping, and missing classes. I just didn't care to be there. I was 18, working part-time at a pizza place, didn't have a car or license, and had no motivation to do much of anything. This moment shocked me to my core and I completely changed my habits.
I started working full time, practiced driving and got my license, and sold my video games for the down payment on a used car. I've basically been on an upward trend since then.
36. Game Changer
For me, like most people born before the 1980s, my life is divided into two segments—Before and After Internet. People who have grown up with it have no idea what a difference it made when it first became available.
35. Plan B
The moment that changed my life was missing out on getting into my dream school’s engineering program by just 2%.
I had wanted to be an engineer and to go to that school since I was six. Now, I suddenly had to come up with a whole new plan.
34. Hit and Run
My motorcycle crash. Before it, I had never been in the hospital for any reason—ever. I see this woman pull out in front of me and make a blind left turn across a couple lanes of traffic. As I'm emergency braking, I somehow manage to look in her window and see that she's looking at her phone. BAM! Leg injured, concussion, road rash—all for her "be there in a few" text.
She didn't even come over to see if I was alright after I stopped rolling. I still don't even know what she looks like and this was three years ago. People suck. Nowadays, my eyes are constantly darting in every direction, but it took a long time for me to get back to being okay with intersections. Stay off your phone while you're driving.
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My moment was when I snuck into my ex-girlfriend's apartment to set up a surprise for her, only to find her in bed with my brother. Oh, and my other brother was covering for them.
Before this, I had an innate feeling that my family was my one safe haven in a rather dark world. Now I know it's not.
32. Coping With Loss
The death of my child. It changed me forever in ways that I could never properly put into words.
31. Moment of Truth
After years of not caring about school, I took some substances on the beach one day and had an epiphany that my life was going nowhere. Since then, I have turned my grades around and I am now on the Dean’s List.
30. Change of Pace
The moment I met my wife. It's not like everything's perfect now, but I'm not lonely, bored, or living with my overly strict parents anymore since I met her—so that's pretty awesome.
29. Winds of Change
Hurricane Katrina was my life-changing moment. I never expected that I'd still be feeling the effects of it this long after. It totally uprooted me, made me lose many friends and the vast majority of my possessions, and just completely turned my life upside down. I often think about the fact that so much of my life can be looked at as being either Pre-Katrina or Post-Katrina.
28. Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire
I lost everything in a fire. I had no money and no insurance. It was definitely the hardest time in my life. I can definitely recognize the difference in me from before the fire and after. I'm much more mature and confident now than I was two years ago. I'm in a better job and I have my own place. It was really a kick in the butt that made me into a grown up.
27. None of Your Business
When I went to a recruiting event for a business fraternity at my school. Growing up, I never really had any friends. My freshman year of college wasn't much different, and I also wasn't happy with my major. By my sophomore year, I switched into the business school and wanted it to be a fresh start. I heard about this fraternity and thought it sounded interesting, so I went to their mixer event.
I remember walking into the atrium and looking around at everyone mingling. I saw a group of guys talking who looked friendly, took a deep breath, walked right up to them, and introduced myself. Long story short, they're now my best friends and I can't imagine what my life would be like if I didn't go to that event and say hi to them.
26. Lifelong Trauma
I have not been the same person since I was sexually assaulted.
Now, I'm constantly scared. Before, I still thought I knew what safety was.
25. Coming Clean
The moment that forever changed my life was finally telling my parents about my addiction—and begging them to help me find the right treatment for it. Today, it feels amazing to be seven months sober!
24. Crossing the Ocean
My life changing moment was when I moved from England to the USA in June 1998, stayed, and eventually became a citizen.
23. War and Peace
I was held hostage as a Prisoner of War in Iraq for over two and a half years. Since then, as you can imagine, I can never again view the world or live my life the same way as I did before. Among many other things, my work ethic has changed completely. I used to be a workaholic, now I only work a few months each year and holiday the rest.
I don’t take any part of life for granted.
22. The Dark Side
My moment was getting beaten up in a Walmart parking lot.
Sounds lame, I know. But I went into it an idealistic, pacifist college kid; came out with a much darker perspective on humanity, and a newfound mistrust in people.
21. The Graduate
I witnessed a good friend die at a graduation party we were both at together. It dramatically changed how I approach high-risk situations.
20. Use Your Head
I had a major head injury when I was younger, and my life has not been the same since. Don't try this at home, people.
19. Clutch Hitter
My moment was realizing that my house was on fire and that I had about 30 seconds to get out. From that moment on, I tapped into a well of determination I never knew I possessed. It was a horrible experience but the realization that I had that power within me made me come out of it a much stronger, more confident person.
18. Once Was Enough
I got laid off and was without a job for six months. I had a wife and a newborn at home. Everything I've done professionally since then has been to make sure it never happens again. I'm 37 and this happened ten years ago, but it's still the defining moment of my life and always will be.
17. Bringing Out the Best
My life changed when I met my partner in high school. She's really smart, studious, and driven. At the time, I had been none of the above. Being with her made me want to work harder, learn more, and just generally keep improving. I ended up doing a degree instead of a trade, quitting smoking, and hitting the gym.
We are still together years later and I am now killing it in the corporate world, in perfect health. Love that girl!
16. The Bonds of Friendship
The moment that changed me the most was a close friend killing himself suddenly. My life and entire way of thinking are not the same now as they were before that incident.
15. It’s Not You, It’s Me
A recent breakup has basically had a life-altering effect on me. I got dumped and, after a few weeks of self-loathing and blaming her, I decided to just become the best version of me I could be. I started exercising, quit smoking, started eating healthier, and moved into a new place that makes me happy. I'm proud of the progress I have made so far, but I know I still have plenty of work ahead of me.
14. A Difficult Struggle
The moment that forever changed my life was my coming out of the closet, which led to depression and three suicide attempts—but after all that, I’m still here and hopefully on the path to a better life.
13. With a Little Bit of Luck
Cancer. A few short years ago, I was just your average, happy 12-year-old kid. Then, I found out I had Burkitt's lymphoma. If they had discovered the cancer and started my treatment a single week later, I might not have survived. After a year of painful treatment, and A LOT of luck, I was finally cancer-free and still am now.
After this terrible ordeal, I have started to care much more about my health and have become more careful about everything. Now, I understand how easy it is to lose my life. Today, I am back to my normal happy self—but I will always have this experience as a part of who I am.
12. Freedom at Last
Moving out of my parents' house and eventually cutting off all contact with them changed my life forever. I went from a very controlled environment where I had to listen to screaming and fighting almost every night and had to constantly ask for permission to do things like go out or have someone over. I finally bought a house, moved out, and never looked back.
Life is so much better now. Sometimes in the middle of the night, I wake up and hear a noise that I think is one of my parents walking around in the hall. Then I realize I'm alone and relief just washes over me. I eat when I want, shower when I want, and do whatever I want.
11. Blessing in Disguise?
Going through depression is probably the best thing that has happened in my life. Dead serious. It sucked at the time, but turned out to be a complete perspective shift for me. I'm especially grateful that it happened at 21 years old and not at 50—it shaped my life for the better from a very young age. I hope this does not sound insensitive to people going through depression currently, because I sympathize with what they’re going through.
At the same time, I really feel this way and am grateful for having gone through the experience.
10. And Baby Makes Three
The moment that changed my life was having a kid.
I can't remember what life was even like before that. It all changed the day he was born. My night shift job became an evening job, and every aspect of my daily routine was turned on its head.
9. Noisy Neighbor
I was pretty horribly bulimic for a long time, and I didn't really give a damn. One night, I was crying and throwing up in a Walgreens bathroom, when someone entered the other stall and I had to stop making noise. I realized then that I felt pathetic and that I didn't want to be this way anymore. That was what got me to start my recovery and my new life ever since.
8. Financial Freedom
Going to medical school changed my life. Before I went, I was constantly struggling to make enough money, constantly worrying about things like health insurance and debt.
Now, I have way more free time to study and pursue my interests, and my former worries are pretty much all gone.
My life changing moment was making the decision to leave my faith. I was raised and indoctrinated in a fundamentalist, extremist home. It took a very long time for me to undo all that unhealthy and damaging mindset that had been forced upon me since childhood. As a result, though, I'm much happier now than I ever was during my younger days.
6. New Reality
I divide my life into before and after the time I attempted to kill myself. It really messes with you. Obviously, being in a bad enough place to want to die messes with you—but what about the aftermath? People call you a "survivor." You're "strong." I don't feel like I'm any of those things. I no longer want to die, but the minute I left the hospital, I could immediately feel that everything would be different from that point on.
5. The Cold Hard Truth
A tornado hit my hometown. It was one of those really bad ones, and it destroyed a huge part of the town. We ended up on the news and the President visited. My mom was a nurse at a nursing home. A police officer told our neighbor that the nursing home was destroyed and that everyone there had died. She came over and told us—which was stupid, since our dad wasn't home and it was just three small kids at home.
It turned out she wasn't actually dead. In fact, as we found out a few hours later, no one at the nursing home had died. But the incident completely changed me because I realized that terrible things can happen to anyone at any time. I lost that protective child bubble where you think that nothing bad could really happen to you.
4. Look Me in the Eye
My life changed after seeing the emotional pain in someone's eyes after I told him rather harshly that he couldn't sit with me because I didn't like him. "What did I ever do to you? You're just a jerk!" he shouted. He has no idea, but his words really got to me that day. From then on, I became a much more accepting, caring, and nicer person.
3. Hitting Rock Bottom
When kidney failure, liver failure, septic shock, lactic acidosis, severe dehydration, severe malnutrition, and severe alcohol withdrawal syndrome all hit me at once, I had a less than 10% chance of living. When I awoke in the ICU eight days after being admitted, the doctor told me I was a miracle. He had no medical explanation as to how I was able to live.
My liver and kidneys basically did a complete 180, one hour after he had told my family that I would be dead by morning. They had a priest read me my last rites and everything. I'm only 24, yet I was drinking almost two litres worth of 100 proof vodka every 12 hours, for six months straight. Morning, noon, and night. I was never sober.
Nowadays, I don't drink, I eat healthy, and I run every night. My liver enzymes are perfectly healthy, and my congestive heart failure is no longer an issue. They've had to re-diagnose me as someone without heart failure. All of my muscles and vital organs are healthier than they have been since I was a child. I no longer have liver fibrosis, my legs work, and my heart is as healthy as any average young adult's.
2. The Unfriendly Ghost
I had a boyfriend who ghosted me. We were in an extremely committed, long-term relationship. Literally a week before it happened, he was talking about learning French before we have kids so that they could grow up bilingual. What happened next was and still is a huge shock. Before he left, I was already suffering from horrible depression and anxiety, and was having suicidal thoughts and tendencies. I was in therapy.
After he left, everything changed. Most of it is too emotional to ever try to explain. I had to work twice as hard in therapy so that when I went back to school the coming semester, I could do so on my own and stay focused on it. Seven months later, I am in a major life crisis, but I am getting through it. I know that I will survive whatever comes my way.
In hindsight, him leaving me may have been the best thing that has ever happened to me.
1. New Lease On Life
I was on a plane that lost power in a storm and dropped in mid-air before the pilots were able to correct the situation. It was nothing newsworthy, but enough to scare the anything out of you if you were on board. Those seconds that lasted a lifetime are forever burned into my brain. I remember everything about what was going on, even the guy across the aisle who started to rock back and forth praying out loud.
I remember being thankful that the plane was over water so that we wouldn’t hurt anyone if we went down. I remember thinking about how I wouldn't get to watch my goddaughter grow up. It made me so sad that I felt like my life was so incomplete. I never finished all of the goals I had made for myself. I felt terrible for not being true to who I wanted to be, and I vowed that the second the plane touched down, my life was going to be different.
What followed was an extremely difficult period. I had nightmares about it and refused to set foot on a plane for almost two years. But during that two-year span, I accomplished a lot. The first two weeks alone, I quit smoking, I quit drinking, I quit eating all the garbage food that was a norm to me. I managed to lose 20 pounds in three months.
I quit the job I hated and found a new one doing what made me the happiest I had ever been. I got into a relationship with an amazing person and have been with them ever since. I suppose sometimes life can scare you back into living.
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