The Best And Worst Transformations Seen During School Reunions, As Shared By These 30 Internet Users
Who you are now and who you were back in school are two totally separate people… probably. But let’s be real here for a second: class reunions can be super stressful, no matter how successful you are right now. There’s always this low-key anxiety that you haven’t lived up to your potential and that others might see you as who you were way back then, not the adult you’ve become now. Or worse, that you somehow peaked back then and it’s all been downhill from there.
We’ve collected some of the most powerful real-life stories about the biggest transformations, good and bad, that people have seen during their school reunions, as shared on r/AskReddit. It just goes to show that nobody’s future is truly set in stone. And the trajectory you’re on in high school can change drastically. Upvote the stories that impressed you the most, and let us know how your recent reunions went in the comments, dear Pandas.
When you’re done reading through this list, you might want to consider checking out Bored Panda’s earlier article about the worst school reunion stories—it’s proof that a bit of awkwardness is really nothing to worry about in comparison.
Bored Panda reached out to Lisa McLendon, the William Allen White Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications and the Coordinator at the Bremner Editing Center at the University of Kansas, to get her perspective about staying in touch with former students, and supporting them whether they're still studying or when they've graduated. You'll find her thoughts as you scroll down, dear Pandas.
Back in highschool we had a kid who has aspergers and was a little weird. He was, however, amazing at the yo-yo, having picked one up during middle school when we had that yo-yo trick assembly. After everyone else had stopped walking the dog in 8th grade, this guy was doing more and more elaborate tricks every day during lunch. He was bullied and teased but he continued doing what he loved.
So, at our ten year reunion, people from every strata of high school popularity was there, including this guy. He was his same old self, but more confident. I asked him if he still yo-yos, and he busted out his custom made titanium yo-yo that he said he made on a CNC lathe. He then starts to do some tricks and a large crowd gathered around. It was quite the show, he had gotten very good. When he finished, people clapped and cheered, and even the jockiest dudes from back in the day fist bumped him and told him how badass he was.
So I guess the biggest transformation was everyone else. Nobody teased him for being who he was anymore, they now admired him for being so passionate about something.
One of my neighbors growing up was that super motivated Type A do everything types. Co-valedictorian, captain of the hockey team, gifted musician...just always working.
10 year reunion, went just how we all expected. Full ride to Yale, Harvard MBA, six figure Wall Street job, gorgeous fiance...and he seemed utterly miserable.
10 years later, 20th reunion. He got sick of it all, quit his job, sold his house, got divorced, and got out of town. He now owns a pig farm in Upstate New York, spends his days working the farm, brewing beer, and hiking in the forest...and I've never met a happier, more satisfied person in my life.
mega obese quiet kid (so huge everyone just exempted him from cruel remarks etc) - lost hundreds of pounds and also ended up being fabulously gay - showed up with his sassy little boyfriend -- i was so happy for him
"I stay in touch with some students—social media has made this a lot easier—and there are a few I meet with in person, either to touch base as a mentor or just to catch up," Professor McLendon, from the University of Kansas, shared with Bored Panda.
"A few have gone into teaching, either full-time or part-time, which is always nice to see," she told us that some of her students have followed in her footsteps.
My boyfriend went to his 10 year over the weekend. Saw this woman he didn't know. Turned out to be one of his old football buddies... So, I'd say that was a very big transformation.
Not 10 but 5.
This kid that everyone made a scapegoat in high school is LOADED.
He was the kid that certain groups would pretend to be friends with and then do something horrible to him as a "joke" like depantsing him in front of the whole lunch room or teasing him about his small d**k till he cried (not sure if he actually had one or not just high school a**holes being a**holes)
Turns out that he won some sort of contest/scholarship thing for this space engineering idea and ended up going to school in California for free. I guess he worked super hard and was able to graduate a year early and now is just like rich as f**k working for some sort of space engineering thing that works closely with NASA.
It was funny listening to all the people who use to make fun of him just listen to his life story with their mouths hanging wide open. He has no debt, owns a beautiful home in California and another "cabin" home in our home state (MN), drives beautiful cars, hangs out with beautiful people. All at the ripe age of 24. You could practically smell the jealousy. Plus he brought his smoking hot gf.
It made me so happy for him :)
On the flip side I know someone who hasn't aged since high school. No extra fat, no wobbles, no gray hair, nothing. Even his voice is the same at thirty as it was at fourteen. I'm pretty sure he's a vampire.
Bored Panda wanted to get the professor's opinion on what educators can do to encourage their students to aim for the stars, and how to pick up their spirits if they haven't (yet) achieved what they set out to after graduation.
According to Professor McLendon, there are two parts to inspiring students to aim high. "One, give them a solid foundation to build their skills and knowledge on, so they’ll be able to succeed at whatever they choose to pursue," she said.
"Two, give them support and encouragement—and the benefit of your own network, if possible—to help them get where they want to be," she explained what educators can do.
Twin sisters. The good one straight A student and a perfect angel is now 90 pounds soaking wet and just finished her 4th stint in rehab for drugs. The one who was a trouble maker and constantly in trouble even arrested a few times for drugs and shop lifting while in high school, is a doctor with a family.
I used to pass notes to a guy in Algebra class... mostly song lyrics. I'd write a line pass it to him, he'd write a line, back and forth. He was a quiet kid and friends with some other friends of mine who were big into BMX bikes and skateboards. I took a bunch of photos of these guys for my photography class. At graduation, he said he was heading to California to ride BMX. He never came to a reunion... he was too busy playing rhythm guitar in Guns N Roses as Izzy Stradlin.
One girl who sat next to me in English class in junior and senior year. Thick coke bottle glasses, a bird's nest of thick curly hair. She was always very nice and very smart, but super quiet and introverted.
I was an extroverted, outgoing jacka** so I used to ask her to read parts when we studied Shakespeare, invited her into my group for group projects and made her take speaking roles, that kind of thing. She was never really comfortable talking about herself and we never hung out outside of class, so I left school not knowing much about her except that she was smart, quick to grin at a joke, and had strong feelings about "The Crucible".
Ten years later, this gorgeous woman shows up at our reunion. Smoking hot redhead, sparkling blue eyes, stacked hourglass figure. That goofy teenage grin had turned into a confident, knowing smile. She knew how to dress and make herself up to emphasize her assets and minimize her flaws. She was jaw-droppingly stunning.
We talked for a good hour. She was just a late bloomer. I apologized for always volunteering her for public speaking and she said it was one of the things that made her start to confront her shyness. She ended up going to an ivy league school and became a journalist, of all things.
We still chat from time to time.
Edit: no, we didn't bang. I was happily engaged by my 10 year reunion and well settled into my career. She lived in Africa on assignment from a wire service. We were in very different places in our lives and I was and am happy to count her as a friend.
Meanwhile, if someone feels like they still haven't lived up to their potential after graduating, the support and encouragement they get from their former professors or teachers can really help.
"Lots of people don’t get there right away, or end up somewhere else completely, and if students see how others have navigated their career paths, it helps instill some patience and also an openness to other possible pathways," the professor told us.
Whether we like it or not, we’re social animals. We need other people and their approval to feel good. We’re hardwired for communication and cooperation. That, at least in part, explains why some individuals might feel apprehensive about going to their high school reunions. They might think that who they are now won’t leave a positive enough impression on their former classmates.
You might not be where you imagined yourself when you were back in school. Or you might feel embarrassed about how you look, the choices you’ve made. Some people might even feel that they haven’t changed at all over the years. Or that they’re not as ‘cool’ as they were when they were a teenager. In short, we think it’s fair to say that nearly everyone wants to leave a positive impression. Bold, beautiful, successful, witty, and charming—that’s what we want to be seen as.
My husband and I went to the same high school but met years later. He was the football player all the girls wanted in bed and all the guys wanted to be with. I was the one people threw against lockers and treated like trash. When my reunion came around, one of the girls I had kept in contact with asked me to help with the website, so I said what the hell. When we showed up, quite a few people asked why he was there. He had graduated 2 years earlier. He said he was with his wife and just and took his seat. I walked in and took a seat as they were thanking those who helped with the reunion. When they announced my name, people looked around slightly confused. I stood, like the others and you could hear a pin drop. Apparently I changed quite a bit in that ten years. My husband raised his glass and smiled again. It was awesome.
One kid was fairly small, quiet and goofy. Nice kid, but nothing too special about him. We hung out a few times at speech/drama tournaments.
I had wondered what happened to him. Turns out he grew quite a lot and became quite popular. His acting career took him far. He's been in several huge films, including X-Men.
We knew him as Jimmy. Today he goes by a more mature name of James - James Marsden.
I hope he's still a cool, goofy guy deep down that I remember from the few times we hung out.
This guy was poor. Nice kid, but really poor. Only owned 2 shirts and 1 pair of pants. People always donated clothes to school to give to family. Dirty, needed groomed, overall looked homeless. You know how most kids are, mean about it, but he was cool.
Millionaire. Has started and sold quite a few businesses and is overall very successful. Invests in lots of real estate now.
The irony, of course, is that everyone’s so worried about their own self-image that they don’t really notice the things that we’re worried about. (Though, on the flip side, people really do gossip over the smallest flaws, too. But there’s no way that you can eradicate gossip without taking away what makes our species ‘human’ in the first place. And... gossip can actually have some benefits, too, like encouraging cooperation and helping 'reform' mean individuals.)
We think that it’s best to… just be yourself. If you’re happy, if you feel that you’re successful based on what’s most important to you, then that’s wonderful. But don’t skip out on your school reunion just because you think someone might not like your haircut or suit. You never know, it might be a lot of fun catching up with the people who used to be your friends. And it’s the perfect opportunity to act goofy and childlike for an evening.
One pet peeve of ours is that no matter how successful we are, the moment we walk into that reunion, someone is bound to start reminiscing about the good old days and sharing a ton of embarrassing stories that you’d rather forget. You know, Pandas, the kind of stuff you suddenly remember when you’re showering or when you go get a glass of water at 5 o’clock in the morning. Thanks, Chad, thanks for reminding everyone of the time Jim puked after eating a bad taco. You too, Stacy, you’re just wonderful for bringing up the story about how Alice got spooked on the stage and started stuttering. Brilliant…
I was this weird punk-ish nerd that none of the boys would even look at, let alone ask on a date. I had a girlstache and no boobs. And besides that, I was the only poor kid in an expensive school (yay scholarships).
10 years later, I'm hot. Pardon my lack of modesty, but I look really good, and I bought the boobs I wanted. I dress well, I speak 3 languages, and I'm one of the few who has a college degree and a steady job in my area. I'm living by myself and paying all my bills while most still live with their parents and use their money at almost 30.
Suck it, you bunch of bullies.
This girl, let's call her Jane, was always very quiet. She was never picked on, but that's because she was mostly ignored. She wrote lots of poetry and read lots of books and I never heard her talk in school outside of English class. She started smoking cigarettes and drinking when she was a teen, but she didn't like parties with lots of people. The few times I talked to her it was always about how terrible parents were or how terrible God is or how terrible the government is. She was thin and pretty too, and my friend dated her briefly, but he said he couldn't deal with her anger.
Flash forward I see her again. She put on a ton of weight. Like a ton. I thought "oh great now she has body issues on top of her other issues. Poor girl." But I talked to her and she was so happy.
She got a job writing for a travel blog and she gets to go all over the country. She came out as a lesbian and I saw pictures of her and her partner's travels. She quit drinking and she's been sober for a few years now. She's very open about her struggles with her identity, alcohol, and depression that date all the way back to high school.
So physical and mental state she had a huge transformation. And I'm glad she found a happy ending.
Tough, bada** football player with shaved head, nicknamed "Iceman". Came to the reunion a skinny, long-haired hippy/yogi and sporting one of the happiest smiles I've ever seen. I like to think he finally figured out who he really was.
It’s probably a question of ‘when,’ not ‘if’ someone’s going to bring up your past. And even though our instincts might yell at us to cringe and shy away, it’s best to do the opposite. Lean into the embarrassment. Embrace it. Laugh it off. Show everyone you’re having fun. Ironically, this is what’s going to make people love you more: accepting your flaws, not trying to pretend you never had any.
Vanessa Bohns, an Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at Cornell University, explained to Bored Panda during an interview for a previous article that not hiding our embarrassment helps us connect with people better.
“Displaying signs of mild embarrassment can actually be socially constructive and make people feel more sympathetic towards you in the face of your faux pas. I don’t necessarily think you need to take pains to hide it,” she told us that others value honesty and being genuine.
Nobody changed at all.
I left Ireland three days after my leaving cert, and happened to move back a month before the reunion party. I hadn't seen a single person in the 10 intervening years, and everyone was basically *the exact same person* as they had been in school. Better-dressed, more confident, less awkward - but essentially the exact same people.
I had been dreading it, because I was never a popular kid in school - but it actually felt wonderful to be among those people again. After high school, you never really get to know anyone that well again. Add that to me having spent 10 years being an immigrant in various places, and that made re-connecting with these people extra sweet. All of the people with massive chips on their shoulders - they didn't show up. So the only people who were there were the ones who were as excited as I was.
There was one kid who changed massively, but he didn't come to the reunion. In school, he was the most dyslexic kid, worst at math, bottom of every class. His only love was making home-made bombs on his farm and blowing s**t up with them. He went to a college in Cornwall or Wales or something, that specialised in mining - because he figured that way he could work with explosives.
So fast-forward almost ten years, and I am finally getting my bachelor's degree. I took a bit longer than most people do, but I had just got the results from my last few exams and I had finally passed. I was basking in that elation when my phone rang and it's this guy. He just got his PhD for building a f*****g robot that goes into mines and fires f*****g lasers everywhere to make a 3D scan of the mine without endangering any humans. He built a robot with lasers on it. And had a PhD.
Way to take the wind out of my sails, James.
There was a guy in my class that was a big meathead and was known to be a huge bully and womanizer. He is now an easy-going artist that hugs everyone and has a very zen demeanor. At our 10 year reunion, he told me how excited he was to atone and let everyone know that he has changed. I thought it was incredibly touching and my respect for him is fully restored.
I saw me go from being a daily smoked-out stoner who breezed through each year of high school with average grades to a middle school science teacher who last year received teacher of the year honors. I bet they never saw that coming. B***hes.
By accepting our feelings of embarrassment and awkwardness, we also put a stop to them morphing into feelings of shame.
“What you want to be careful not to do is to let embarrassment morph into the more destructive self-conscious emotion of shame, where you feel so badly about a minor mistake that you start to think there is something wrong with you and feel the need to completely disappear and hide away yourself,” Vanessa said.
The kid who was stealing motorcycles and selling them for parts is now a police officer. He was never accused or convicted of course but I knew that for a fact.
Let's hope people sometimes *do* change.
Probably my wife (although we just had our 20 year reunion a couple years ago). We both went to middle and high school together, knew each other in a friendly way, you know, say hi when you pass in the hallway, but nothing more than that. Fast forward about 12 years, and I went on a blind date after coming off a glorious summer of bachelorhood. I saw her standing outside the bar, waiting for me, and I can still see it like it was yesterday. I kept on thinking, nah, this can't be her, I had seen a couple pictures but I was like this girl is drop dead gorgeous.
We hit it off that night, and within a couple weeks we were dating. About a month after that first date, we were talking about where we went to school, and she mentioned that she went to the same high school I had. So I asked her what year she graduated and lo and behold, it was the same year as me. "What middle school did you go to?" I asked. Once again, same as mine. She had our high school yearbook from our senior year in her closet, so she brought it out and we looked up our pictures. "Wait a second, you're <so and so>?". I was in shock, in high school she was someone that was bullied on a lot because of her looks. But here I was looking at this gorgeous blonde, who was just stunning. We brought out her middle school year book, and that is when it pretty much hit us that fate had brought us together. There, in faded yellow marker, she had highlighted my name. The only boy in our entire class that she highlighted was mine. We still don't really know why, but she did, and it was the like the God of Fates opened up the clouds and sent a beam of light upon us.
The best part was, my nickname starts with "Crazy". I was a party animal, but I was getting near 30, and I had been dating/hanging/whatever many a crazy chick over the last 10 years. All of them were pretty big into the party life themselves. She however, was grounded. She had a good job, dressed way above my pay grade at the time, and just was a good person that had a good family. She turned my life around, and while it hasn't all been roses, we have now been married for close to 10 years and have two wonderful kids. And most importantly, I still look at her almost every day and think how lucky I am to have such a beautiful woman, both inside and out.
P.S. When she first joined Facebook way back in the day, I was already on it and had a lot of friends from high school. I made a post linking to her Facebook and just said, hey, if you remember <so and so>, we got married a few years ago so she needs some friends on here. My post was inundated with posts from high school friends, "that is <so and so>!!", "wow <so and so> you look so different", "No way that is <so and so>", including some of the very people that bullied her when she was younger. I am extremely proud of my wife for the woman that she is, both to myself and our kids. And I'm even more proud to know that this girl that grew up getting bullied because of her looks got the last laugh.
There was a girl in my class who was not comfortable in her body. She acted like a boy, talked like a boy, and always wanted to do boy things. She got made fun of. A lot. Meanly. Kids are a**holes.
I went to elementary through 12th with her, so I knew her for a long time. I'd call her my friend, mostly because we were always nice to each other, but we never saw each other out of school.
10-year comes and now he's living life as a man. Not everyone from my podunk little school saw this as a good thing (mostly the ones who still live in our home town), but most of us were happy for him.
He's on Facebook now (my 10-year was just as Facebook was spilling into the masses) and is confident and is a regular person, comfortable in his skin. Just living life.
Definitely the smelly kid. He wasn't actually smelly, but the routine beatings and teasing definitely took the toll on this guy. He was just...non-functionally weird.
He apparently blossomed in college and ended up in law school. He became a lawyer for abused women, doing orders of protection and whatnot. He said his motivation was to stand up to bullies, so that no one had to endure what he did.
The next year I got laid off due to budget cuts and opened up my own law firm, which failed. My life's back to being in the s**tter, but the reunion stands out as my high water mark.
A dude that I saw drop acid in class on multiple occasions had become a youth preacher. The girl voted best looking had become a chain-smoking drunk who had somehow aged 30 years in a decade. The goth girl that I would sometimes smoke weed and talk about John Waters movies with had become some kind of Stepford wife.
A lot of people seemed genuinely shocked that I hadn't been stabbed to death in a back alley somewhere. Never realized I had such a reputation in high school :S
Hot girl who made fun of fat girls was 300 lbs easy.
Two [passed away], one became disabled after a car accident, a couple of them came out as gay, one became a super successful entrepreneur and HEAPS got really fat.
Meanwhile, I got a haircut.
I knew guy who failed all his math courses and had me tutor him in math then he became a mathematician guess I was a great teacher
It's only been 5 years since I graduated and one of the girls in my class is a freaking rocket engineer. Working for nasa.
Like what. She used to cry about that douchebag she was dating. We did yoga in PE and talked about stupid highschool girl things.
And to think if I'd actually seriously applied myself It would have been possible for me too. good on her.
The most popular and best-looking girl (biggest b***h, really) in my class weighed about 220 and was pregnant with kid #5. From head cheerleader on her way to UW, to college dropout stay-at-home mom. I probably *could* have enjoyed seeing that more, but I'm not sure how off the top of my head.
One girl I went to high school with is now a guy I went to high school with. It's an all girls school.
Skinny nerdy guy got busted for selling a couple hundred thousand dollars worth of adobe software in college and spent 15 months in prison. He came out super buff.
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