People Describe A High School Friend Who Took A Very Unexpected Turn In Life
Everyone remembers that one guy from high school who was supposed to end up a millionaire, or the other guy who was most likely going to work at McDonald’s for the rest of his days. However, life is totally unpredictable—five years, ten years, or 20 years later and you might not recognize the people you went to school with, no matter how close you once were.
The underlying lesson that can be learned from the following stories is that people are not defined entirely by their pasts—just because they may have been unsuccessful in high school, does not automatically mean they will be unsuccessful after graduation. Once the tassels have been flipped, everything becomes a level playing field. Read on for some interesting 180s.
#1 Worth The Wait
I knew a girl in high school who was very sweet but also very shy. She had poor eyesight, had some tough dental issues, was overweight, and lived with a foster family in a trailer park. She wasn’t particularly close to anyone in school. I got the sense that she was just trying to make it through. But she was always kind and I would talk to her a bit here and there. Mostly, she kept to herself and didn’t want to be noticed at all.
After high school, we lost touch. Then, twenty years later, I g0t a Facebook request from someone with her name but the picture looked nothing like her. Not even a vague resemblance. I accepted the request because I was curious. Well, it was indeed her! It turns out that she worked her way through community college, ended up getting a good job with a family company and worked her way up the ranks there.
By her late 20s, she saved enough money and had good insurance for eye surgery and dental surgery. She also started really focusing on getting healthy. She also started traveling around the country, during which she ended up meeting a great guy. She and her husband have a nice family, good jobs, and live in an affluent community.
She acknowledged that her early years were tough as she had such low self-esteem. She thanked me for always being kind to her. She ended our short conversation with, “I may have blossomed late, but it was worth the wait.” I’m so happy for her. We keep in touch.
#2 Why Ukraine?
I knew a really nice guy in high school who liked Queen and played the guitar a bit. After graduation, he became the bass-guitarist of the #1 rock band in Ukraine. For years, I’d overhear some people ridicule him for trying to make it big in the US. Despite his failures, he kept trucking on and, while not in the US, he now has the fame and fortune that people thought he could never achieve. Good for him.
#3 His Life Took A Prayerful Turn
The son of my teacher was a football player. Once he graduated, he went to work at a restaurant for a year and as far as I knew, he was going to attend college the following year but he had no idea of what his major was going to be. I just found out two weeks ago that he got accepted to a local seminary and is going to become a priest! I was shocked, to say the least—he was very attractive in high school, with a beautiful girlfriend and everything.
#4 Once A Goof-Off, Always A Goof-Off
He was probably the smartest guy in class but he never actually paid attention to the teacher or did his homework. He was always sleeping during lessons or doing his own thing, just goofing off. At some point after graduation, he founded a startup that ended up being worth eight figures; however, he recently sold it and is now back to goofing off.
#5 Maybe She Has A Lot Of Lawyer Friends
I knew a girl who got into a fair amount of trouble. She skipped school, had a bad attitude and was more interested in hanging out with friends than learning. She ended up becoming a lawyer and eventually the assistant DA of a city with about three million people. I guess at some point she realized she needed to get her life together, and she did.
#6 Zero To Hero
A guy who sat behind me in homeroom class was a good student, but not an intellectual superstar by any means. After I relocated to eastern Pennsylvania, he moved to western New Jersey. He became a multimillionaire; the former CEO of a pharmaceutical company. He was a great guy and I was super happy for him, but it was all truly unexpected.
#7 Over The Top Worked For Him
My cousin in the UK went to school with Dev Patel. Dev was apparently super into the drama club, even though people thought he was too over the top. They thought he was kind of a try-hard who would never actually become a professional actor. His success was definitely unexpected for people he knew back then, based on what my cousin told me.
#8 Could Have Used Some Career Counseling
I knew a guy who got along with mostly everyone in high school. I even considered him a friend and hung out with him on occasion. He came from a great family and while he didn’t get the best grades, he was good at things like fixing cars, so I assumed he would end up going into that field. Instead, he started a career in drinking. By the time he was 30, he had been arrested and jailed several times. He was also given two restraining orders from his former girlfriends and his family had completely given up on him. Now in his mid 40’s, he still lives in that same town, drinking himself away.
#9 What’s She Doing Now?
When I was in my early 20s, I was in my hometown visiting my parents and stopped at a gas station on my way out of town. I thought the lady at the counter was in her 50s, but apparently, I went to high school with her. I only realized such because she recognized me and brought it up. Crazy how fast doing the wrong things can visibly age you.
#10 Not A Friend, But Me
I grew up in a very strict, authoritarian Christian household. Shockingly, as soon as I left home, I ended up straight in an abusive relationship because I didn’t recognize controlling behavior as abusive behavior. It took me a long time to realize the connection between the two and learn how to form healthy relationships.
#11 All Good But Funny
My best friend’s roommate was a weird guy. He was brilliant (he got a 1600 SAT score), but he never really showered. He was dating the sweetest, kindest girl, who dumped him after two months of trying to get him to take better care of himself. We’d always try to get him to come out of his shell because he was pretty funny and we liked the guy. After not hearing from him for 15 years, we looked him up. Apparently, he cofounded Revolve clothing and became a multimillionaire. I’m genuinely happy for the guy, but I never, ever, expected him to hit it big, in fashion no less.
#12 Maybe That’s Better?
A friend of mine is a talented artist with a deep passion for video game design. He worked on projects for indie developers all throughout high school, and I thought it was certain he would quickly become an artist for some developer studio soon after. He now works as a furniture salesman. It’s really unfortunate because the guy is so good at what he does.
#13 My Story
I wanted to work on games since I was in high school. I think everyone was convinced I’d be working in gaming. After hearing the horror stories about the game industry, the lack of job security and the constant layoffs, I’m happy being just a retail stock person and doing game development on the side. I’ve also come to the realization that I’m the kind of person who, if I turn a hobby into a job, it’ll ruin my passion for it.
#14 Is He Any Good?
My brother was homeschooled. This meant he rarely went out or interacted with people. He didn’t really have the same experiences growing up like the other kids around him, so a lot of people were sure that he was going to struggle to find a career once he graduated. No one expected that he’d end up going down the path of hip hop.
#15 He Cleans Up Good
I had a friend who was the weirdest guy I’d ever met. He’d often yell random stuff for no reason, do every kind of accent, and was just generally awkward around people. I saw him a few years after graduation and he was dressed to the nines; very clean cut and socially well-adjusted. It was a complete 180 from high school. It made me rethink all my life’s choices up until that point since I was not doing so hot in life.
#16 Not A Choice
The most brilliant girl I knew in high school was also one of the most lively and outgoing people I knew. She could befriend anyone. She was so fun and energetic to be around. I thought she was destined for so much success, but she ended up passing away last year, just a couple of months shy of her 24th birthday after a lengthy and private battle with cancer.
When I found out about her illness, it was already terminal. All I could think about was how unfair it was that someone with so much potential, someone who did everything right in life could just have their life taken away like that. Her passing really got to me. I constantly remind myself to make the most of every second of my life, because hers was cut so short.
#17 What An Inspiration
This one kid I went to middle school wore a trench coat, fedora, and the occasionally a “fashionable” tail. He was a big, nerdy guy. But then, in the summer between eighth grade and freshmen year, he got rid of his braces lost about 200 pounds. He was the most attractive and popular kid in school. To be honest, wish I had that motivation.
#18 How Did Willy Wonka Inspire That?
When I was ten years old, I sat next to the sweetest boy in our class. All the other boys I had sat next to in junior high were typically dummies, so he was refreshing. I remember I lent him my Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory VHS one time and he lent me his Muppets Take Manhattan VHS in return. Then, when we turned 12 years old, we both went to different high schools. At some point during those years, I heard that he had been arrested for armed robbery. I couldn’t believe it. What happened to that kind boy from junior high?
#19 Life Change Or One Important Moment?
A girl in my high school was a terrible human being. She was selfish and totally self-absorbed. I couldn’t stand her. Really, she was one of the shallowest, nastiest people I knew. Then, twenty years later, she sacrificed her life to help save three children, completely unknown to her, from drowning in a rip current at a local beach.
#20 Something In The Water
A lovely girl in my class had severe anorexia, to the extent that she had to repeat the year. She was strikingly pretty, with the face of an angel. I always wondered if she felt self-conscious and grew obsessed about her looks because it was what people valued—nobody made the same fuss about her good grades or niceness. She is now morbidly obese, a total couch surfer and pretty much always wears the same big brown coat and tracksuit pants. I was shocked to see her go from one extreme to the other. She’s still really nice though; I hope everything works out for her.
#21 Could Have Been So Much Better
A friend I’ve known since freshmen year lived a tough life. Her home life wasn’t stellar. She had abusive stepparents and escaped them by joining the Marines. She eventually met someone, got married, had four kids and was expelled from the service for medical reasons. Later on, she got divorced and her ex-husband got full custody, so she moved back home and bounced around in a travel trailer with a younger boyfriend.
The last time she surfaced, it was on Facebook and she was selling their wedding rings It’s a real shame how things went. She’d done well in the Marines, so I’m not sure what the tipping point was. She was furious about losing custody but she wanted to uproot four kids from their home and she absolutely refused to acknowledge how horrible that would have been for them.
#22 Not Necessarily A Bad Thing
A friend of mine was really into herself and dated a lot of rich guys. She vowed not to get married or have children since she had goals to become a successful businesswoman. Fast forward ten years: she gained 120 pounds and her husband left her for another woman. She is now raising a disabled child that consumes all her time. She is an excellent mother, but she basically turned into everything that she said she would not be.
#23 But Is He Still A Bully?
There was this guy who bullied me and destroyed my self-esteem on a regular basis. He eventually became a really successful vegan chef. He has his own restaurant, cookbooks, and has been on talk shows to promote his stuff. I have no idea if he still bullies people, but with all the success he’s been having, I really hope not.
#24 But She’s Still Happy
She was voted most likely to succeed in our year. She planned on becoming a doctor and everything. She ended up staying in state for college and after some time, we lost touch. Last I heard of her, she got married and is now a stay-at-home mom. She’s traveling the world on her doctor husband’s dime, which is not a bad, but certainly unexpected.
#25 Nothing Was Enough To Save Him
This one guy I went to school with came from a wealthy family. He was good at sports and a hilarious person to be around. Even at the time, it was no secret that he had his demons, but he was just so darn smart that it if he could just grow out of his adolescent angst, everything would be fine. The guy didn’t exactly have to hit a home run to do okay in life.
I believe he’s working part-time at the grocery store now, but he may have gotten fired again. It’s always hard to keep his story straight because he doesn’t tend to hold down any particular job for long. Honestly, if he weren’t such a nice person, there might be a hint of schadenfreude there, but as it is, it’s just tragic.
#26 Everyone Was Successful
In my graduating class of 149, 148 went to college. The one guy who didn’t? He decided to go “on tour” with his band. The other members of the band were two guys who graduated from our school the year before. Six years later and they still tour full time. They’ve made a pretty good name for themselves, headlining their own tours and opening for some big-name bands. It’s pretty cool to go to one of their shows and hang out with them backstage.
#27 Good For Her
A very plain looking but nice girl I went to high school with ended up becoming one of the top 20 supermodels of all time. At some point, she married a very famous rock star. She’s a total sweetheart and to this day, she’s one of my dearest friends. She checks in on me almost daily and was there for me when I lost my daughter.
#28 Would He Have Been As Successful Sans Fall?
A guy from my school fell off a balcony in college and became a paraplegic (he was a smart kid, gifted student, but a huge partier). He ultimately sued the school for a ton of money and ended up straightening his act out.
#29 Always Looking For Something New
A girl who was in the top 10 of my graduating class had plans to become a lawyer and probably would have succeeded seeing as how her ‘mock trial’ team won state. She went to college and learned she enjoyed the arts so much more. She briefly became an actress but failed to land any significant roles. She moved back home with her parents and started her own photography business but that also failed. Now she is a very successful burlesque dancer! While she has failed in many of her endeavors, I always admire her will to find something new to try.
#30 No One Expected Any Of That
One guy from my old crew died during 911 – he was working in one of the towers. RIP Mark, love you brother.
#31 Maybe She Didn’t Change That Much
I knew a girl who was pretty but dumb as a rock. Like, she didn’t know which color was for hot and which one was for cold on the water cooler. She went on to co-host a reality show but she was also only on for one season, for reasons I can only guess.
#32 So You Didn’t Steal The Bike?
A kid I knew in middle school accused me of stealing from him in our senior year. We always got along and never had any problems, but one day I was out for a walk and all the sudden I was stopped by two cops who insisted I stole the kid’s bike. It was completely random. There was literally no reason for him to suspect me other than the fact that I happened to be out for a walk.
I’d never even been to his house before, either. He was just someone who rode my bus and occasionally hung out with me during school. They wound up not pressing charges but it was a nightmare. I Googled him out of curiosity a few years later, and it turned out he’d done a heck load of prison time since. Burglary, squatting in homes, and some more stuff. Ironic.
#33 I Wonder If She Bullies Herself Now
A girl who used to bully me in high school developed alopecia and lost all of her hair. While I don’t wish that on anyone, I appreciated the irony of someone who was so focused on looks and social standing going bald.
#34 Religious 180
One of my best friends was Arab but she didn’t give in to her parents’ traditional ways. She told her mom that she was going to backpack through Europe when she turned 18 and that she was going to study to become a police officer. Of course, her parents disapproved of all this and told her “heck no” to the traveling or becoming a police officer.
Two years after high school, she became very religious and married some guy in his late 30s. She already has two kids and only hangs out with people in her Muslim community circle. I don’t really talk to her anymore because I’m a guy (although I’m gay) because her husband disapproves of it. She also told me she doesn’t support me being gay “because it’s wrong.”
Yet, throughout high school, she was very supportive and was there for me when I came out to my parents. I don’t know what caused her to make that 180 and fall in line with her parents’ wishes, but I do miss who she used to be.
#35 So He’s Not A Millionaire?
A friend of mine was a decorated student in high school. He was a top cadet in JROTC and got a scholarship geared toward any STEM major. On top of that, he joined Army ROTC in college to get in track to become a U.S citizen (he is undocumented). So what happened? He gave up everything to sell Herbalife and Amway thinking he would be a millionaire in five years. So much freaking potential just gone.
#36 He Found His Calling
My brother. He wasn’t unintelligent, just not that interested in school. He was more social and kind of lazy. He is currently an RN (Registered Nurse) in a level one trauma center, and going to school to be an NP (Nurse Practitioner). He’s married to a beautiful, kind, super smart woman who is also an ER (Emergency Room) RN. He is one of the most wonderful human beings I’ve ever met and I’m so proud of the man he’s become.
#37 The Smartest One
My high school best friend was tied for the top average grade percentage across our high school. He was an absolute scholastic unit. Now, he’s an ultimate frisbee playing, fun cycling, stay-at-home dad with a double degree and a highly successful, business-minded wife. He really was the smartest one of us.
#38 Not A Great Discovery
One of my handsome school crushes was always quiet and sweet. He never noticed me much, but I saw him 30 years later. He became a grammar school teacher. Turns out, he wasn’t shy after all. He was extremely vain and arrogant. Most of us were too ordinary for him to bother with. Man, was I clueless! Dodged a bullet there.
#39 It Pays To Keep Quiet
My best friend from middle school and onward was the smart, kind of dweeby type. That’s not an insult in the slightest— I was the exact same way, just maybe not as smart. He kept to himself unless you were in his circle, and he ALWAYS avoided any kind of confrontation. He’d go out of his way to not talk to someone if it meant he didn’t have to answer questions. Imagine my shock when, two years after graduation, I found out he was in the Secret Service. Not presidential, but still up there. He’s done good for himself, and I’m proud.
#40 Well Known Story
My dad went to school in St. Peter’s in Panchgani, India. He had a shy friend who was often ridiculed by other children for his buck teeth. He had a great passion for music and was talented, especially on the piano. He often performed in various small scale concerts around the town with his band which consisted of his fellow schoolmates.
A lot of schoolchildren from other schools nearby came to their concerts. He was always persuaded by my dad to take professional vocal coaching and become a music artist. Everyone knew he was really talented, but he never really discussed much of his future plans in detail with anyone because of his introverted nature.
He failed in his 10th grade and was expelled from the school. After that, my dad never really got in touch with him ever again. It was in the mid-’80s that my dad got to hear about a certain band called ‘Queen’. He immediately recognized that the lead singer’s voice sounded astoundingly familiar. He then did some research about the band and realized that the frontman was none other than his childhood friend Farrokh Bulsara, a.k.a ‘Freddie Mercury.’
#41 Class Clown Makes Good Dresses
A girl I knew in high school was a total low-achiever. She used to goof off in class all the time and was known by everyone as the class clown. She used to tell everyone that her goal in life was to be a trophy wife so she could watch TV all day. At some point, she landed an opportunity to show her designs at Paris fashion week. Her career in fashion ended up skyrocketing from that.
You could have knocked me over with a feather when I was flicking through a copy of Vogue Australia on my lunch break and there was a four-page article on her in there. I was so happy; she always had a heart of gold and I feel like her teen self was a reflection of what her family thought for her. She deserved to be much more than just someone’s wife.
#42 Subway’s Not Bad
The class valedictorian, who was a great french horn player, served me at Subway the other day.
#43 She Actually Did It
Not a high school friend really, but a girl I used to babysit when she was around 10 or 11. Always an outgoing girl, but a bit down on herself sometimes. Wanted to be an actress more than anything. I thought she’d do something with theatre, but getting “discovered” as an actress is freaking hard. She’s an adult now and has been in a couple of Netflix Originals. She’s a rising star in media and is gaining a lot of notoriety very quickly. It’s well deserved.
#44 Is He Nicer Now?
The popular guy at school. He’s the guy whose name you hear and it’s like you’re talking about a god instead of some average teen. He and this group of girls convinced me that he had a huge crush on me. I was elated until it turned out to be a cruel joke. It really messed with my self-esteem and made me withdraw a lot from people. Where is he now? He has a hot wife and is living his best life. He works for his dad’s hunting company and has every five-star thing he could ever want.
#45 Went A Different Route
I had this one friend, the most mature of all of us. She always insisted that she didn’t need to know exactly what she wanted to do with her life because she didn’t want to pick when she was young and foolish. She went to college, which was good. Then, she got into an abusive relationship before going back home.
She works two jobs and the little free time she has is spent coaching her younger brother’s sports team. We never realized her family basically was her identity. She has no interests beyond baking and anime, which she enjoys with her sisters. It sucks. They’re all wonderful people, but it sucks. I don’t think she even likes coaching but her mother made her do it. She was so smart and mature we figured she’d get an office job.