In high school, the "cool kids" always seem to run the show. They get all the attention, they get invited to all the parties, and they determine the social pecking order. However, sometimes the phrase "peaked in high school" is all too accurate in describing these people, and their lives can take some interesting turns.
Whether it's the prom queen who ended up going off the rails, or the guy who got to college and partied himself out, it's amazing how far the mighty can fall. On the other hand, sometimes those "cool kids" become humbled by reality and end up being more modest than one might imagine. Here are some of Reddit users' wildest, most unexpected stories about what really happened to the "cool kids" from high school.
Her Decline Left Him And His Wife Feeling Sad
“I was a freshman in 1982 at a high school in the rural south. I was new to the district and knew almost no one out of a class of 560 or so students. In other words, I might have been less conspicuous if I’d tattooed ‘beat me up’ on my forehead. Needless to say, I was NOT one of the popular kids.
For reasons unknown, a large group of cheerleaders inhabited my biology class. Their leader was a sophomore, and when I tell you she was physically perfect, you’ll just have to take my word for it. Blonde hair, blue eyes, deep tan, and a body that was heart-stopping. These girls were the coolest of the cool kids. They did their best to humiliate or embarrass me at every turn. As a side note, this included flashing me. I suppose that was meant to torment dweeby me, but at 15 I couldn’t have cared less! For that reason, I could never hate them, but their contempt wasn’t exactly good for my self-esteem.
Fast-forward ten years, and my wife and I were walking through the local mall. I heard a voice calling my name and saw a blonde person sitting behind the counter of an empty jewelry store. Lo and behold, it was the chief tormentor. Although only 26, she looked closer to 40. Sunblock wasn’t a thing in the 80s and all those years of perfect tans had caused a lot of damage. Gravity had also done its thing, so her perfect physique had been rearranged in unflattering ways. She’d never bothered to study much, preferring to coast on looks and cleavage to get passing grades. She’d dropped out of college to marry a man 18 years older and thought she was going to live the dream. However, her looks declined, the older man went looking for a new trophy, and without skills or a well-developed work ethic, she wasn’t positioned for future success.
My wife and I left with a profound sense of sadness. As I said, I’d never hated her despite the lousy treatment I’d received. Now I saw a person who’d had it all, but flamed-out way too young and was looking down the barrel of 50 years’ of regrets.”
He Was Trying To Collect Witnesses To Relive His Glory Days
“Recently, I received a friend request on Facebook from a fellow who was, without question, the coolest and most popular kid at my high school forty years ago. He was tall, handsome, the quarterback for our football team, a heart-throb to legions of tongue-tied girls, and an unattainable friend of every cool-kid-wannabe. This fellow embodied EVERY Hollywood stereotype of a ‘cool kid’ in high school.
His friend request surprised me because we NEVER hung out together and exchanged no more than three words during ALL of high school. We existed in completely different realities. While he strode confidently through the halls, surrounded by throngs of admiring young fans, my world was much more tenuous, a rickety and precarious thing cobbled together from the conditional acceptance of a lamentable and easy-to-ignore segment of students. We were the unpopular ‘never-gonna-be’ group.
Curious, I clicked on his Facebook profile. The first thing I noticed was that he had acquired more than 1,500 friends. EVERYONE from our high school was there! This fellow’s ‘friend request’ suddenly seemed like an attempt to add me to an ever-expanding collection of living witnesses to his ‘glory days’ of yesteryear.
So, whatever happened to that cool kid from high school? He’s just an average, middle-aged guy now, living out his average, middle-class life. He’s not special or remarkable anymore, at least not in the grand scheme of things. In fact, many of my ‘never-gonna-be’ friends have accomplished MUCH more than that cool kid ever did.
With a bit of sadness and nostalgia, I declined his request. I’m more than happy with my twelve Facebook friends.”
When She Got To College, She Lost Her Way
“I was a nerd in high school. I was occasionally bullied, but being 6’2” and about 200 lbs probably saved me from a lot of that. Still, I was socially awkward and not at all ‘cool.’ My family didn’t have a lot of money, so I didn’t have stylish clothes or a car.
The couple I remember most was the head cheerleader and a basketball star. Neither of them was mean to me in school as we didn’t interact very much, and what passed between us was cordial enough. By the way, the cheerleader was drop-dead gorgeous and the basketball player was very handsome.
As it happened, only three members of my high school class matriculated to the state college where I eventually graduated: me, the cheerleader, and the basketball star. They might have had plans to continue the romance when they applied, but by the time school started, they were no longer a couple. All three of us lived in the dormitories, which shared a dining commons so I would see them almost every day.
The basketball player distinguished himself the first week by wearing his high school letterman jacket to class. The practice didn’t last long, as he quickly learned how uncool it was to try and relive your high school glory days when you were in college.
The cheerleader just seemed kind of lost. She went to the parties and drank too much. The town where I grew up was adjacent to a large Army post, and many of my classmates were children of Army personnel. Her dad was a master sergeant so she enrolled in ROTC, mainly to please him.
Toward the end of the school year, there was a formal dance for the ROTC cadets. Attendance was all but mandatory, and you couldn’t go stag. I had to recruit a mercy date from one of my lab partners. She was a good sport about it. A couple of weeks afterward, I saw the cheerleader in the dining commons and it occurred to me that she hadn’t attended the dance. I asked her why, and she replied, ‘No one asked me. I was hoping you would.’
Times had really changed; the cheerleader was hoping the nerd would ask her to the dance. I told her it never occurred to me that she would have even the smallest interest in going with me.
I think that was the last conversation I ever had with her. She didn’t return to school the next year, and I have no idea what became of her. The basketball star wound up teaching PE and coaching basketball at our old high school.”
Oh, How The Tables Have Turned
“When I was in high school, I sat behind Jessica in math class. Jessica was perfect, from the top of her raven hair to her perfectly pedicured toes and she allowed me to do her homework. Because I was doing her homework, she would talk to me. She would say things like ‘here’ and ‘thanks’ and ‘don’t use pen.’
One time there was a dance coming up, so I summoned all my courage and found her standing outside of the cafeteria with some friends. I walked up to her and asked her if she would go to the dance with me. She looked at me with a puzzled look, and started to laugh. She shared with her friends and they started to laugh. Humiliated, I went home. A few days later the principal called me. ‘We’ll put you in another math class, but you have to come back to school.’ I went back.
Fast forward 20 years. I had just adopted a three-year-old girl and was taking her for her first haircut. The ladies at Supercuts made a big fuss over her. As they were fussing over her, I noticed the operator’s license on the mirror. I looked closely, and sure enough, it was Jessica. She’s gotten pretty large and had a solid mustache going, but it was Jessica.
I tipped her a quarter.”
Some People Are In For A Big Reality Check
“I’ve just graduated, so it’s been quite interesting to see exactly what everyone has been up to. So far, most of the ‘cool kids’ seem to be on the path to pretty unassuming, normal, average lives. A few of them have had kids, and if I give it another 4-5 years, I know that many more will have them, too.
Most of the popular guys got employed as mechanics or semi-skilled laborers. Others struggled and one guy who used to bully me in middle school sent me a resume to work at my company (that was quite a power trip, but I loved every second of it). Unfortunately, I could not hire him as I have enough part-time employees to deal with my workload. Be nice to nerds, because someday you will work for one.
Another guy proclaimed that there is no point in living past high school and has since completely abused his body and mind with substances. He’s 20 now and currently hangs out at parties trying to get with 14 and 15-year-old girls. It’s pretty sad, but he was a pretentious idiot. The 10-year reunion will be interesting to see what he’s gotten up to, granted he doesn’t get himself killed or thrown in prison.
Almost none of them went to any sort of post-secondary school for anything other than trades. The vast majority of them just turned into pretty normal guys with egos that deflated enough to have a decent conversation with them, rather than about them. That’s been the biggest change I’ve found so far.”
Some People Are Very Grounded In Who They Are
“Although I was athletic, I was a nerdy kid in high school and most of my friends were nerds, with the exception of one, my friend Brandon.
Brandon and I graduated high school 35 years ago and went our separate directions, but we remained friends. He was definitely one of the cool kids, if not the coolest kid. He was a rebel and did a lot of those things that your parents told you not to do. He was a ladies man, a hard partier, and wasn’t afraid to get in a fight if it was for the right reason (like defending a young lady’s honor). What was interesting about Brandon is that I can’t recollect him ever putting down another human being because he genuinely saw the good in everyone.
I hadn’t seen Brandon for over 10 years, but this weekend we attended a board game convention in Dallas together (a shared passion) and we spent some quality time hanging out.
Let me say that he hasn’t changed one bit. Actually, I guess he isn’t a ladies man anymore due to the fact he is married, but he is as cool and likable as ever. He probably introduced me to more than a hundred people he was on a first name basis with, and still sees the good in everyone.
It really restored my faith in humanity seeing how much this wonderful person I have known for over 40 years hasn’t changed.”
That’s What Happens When You Peak Too Early
“Two of the cool kids from my school basically went to the same university, married each other, had kids, and put them in the same school. The place I lived was very sheltered and my peers were absurdly well-off. My wife and I were doing fine but we left and mixed with the rest of the world. These guys for some reason just stuck together their whole lives. I remember they were bullies.
One time I was visiting my hometown and my mother said let’s go for a drive, as she had to pick something up from school (she teaches where I used to go) and basically took me to a reunion without me knowing.
When I got there, I saw the two of them and they still looked the same. Though I wasn’t particularly fond of them, I still thought to myself, ‘ Wow, that’s so sweet, people finally grow up and have kids.’
I walked up, they say hello, and I asked how they were. The guy answered and then asked me how I was. I began to answer, but mid-first sentence the idiot walked away, shaking his head.
So yeah, the cool kids in my school suffered a halt in developmental growth, as is the case when one peaks too early.”
At The End Of The Day, Their Differences Don’t Matter
“I just went to my high school 20-year reunion, though I wasn’t just another attendee, I was hired to DJ for the whole event. To clarify my position in the high school pecking order, I was what most would consider a weirdo who didn’t prescribe to any particular tribe. I had friends from many different social circles, yet I was never a ‘cool’ kid, nor even a well-liked kid by most of my classmates. I never tried to fit in, I was just myself. At least I wasn’t a victim or rejected in school. I was also a pretty big class clown. I used humor to keep the more aggressive kids at bay (which worked). All this made going to my high school reunion a trip, to put it mildly.
First thing I noticed was that I’d forgotten all about half the people I was acquaintances with (I only consider friends people that hung out with me outside of school). But here they were, the names I had let slip into the farther reaches of my memory banks, standing right in front of me, and a flood of memories came back. I realized I was a little more liked than I thought I was in school. Even some of the kids that used to tease me were being very friendly and genuinely happy to see me.
I admittedly only spent a limited time conversing with everyone, as my job was to provide music. I started the night with a pre-made set list of indie/alternative/rock from 1989-1997 while I ate dinner and caught up with everyone. Then as the night wore on and folks started drinking more, I switched it up and played a lot of hip-hop, house, pop, etc from that era. The cool thing was that a lot of my classmates would bring their own phones up for me to play their favorite music. But perhaps the coolest moment for me was when the old gangster crew came up and asked me very politely if I could play a soul track by The Impressions from the 70s. It was their friend’s favorite song and he was sadly murdered by a rival gang when we were in school. I gladly played it, and for a moment I saw these usually incredibly hard, tough guys break down in tears on the dance floor.
That was the moment when I realized how stupid high school was, and that we were all so separated by our various cliques and cultural differences. But deep down, we were all just young human beings. With emotions, goals, desires, and vulnerabilities.
The cool kids in school ended up just like everyone else: with jobs, kids, married, some divorced. Some of us went on to do really cool things and some of us went on to DJ at our reunion.”
Her Charmed Life Seems To Go On And On
“I graduated fifty years ago and I only keep track of one person from my class. She led a charmed life then and continues to live a charmed life. She seemed to be perfect in every way—even her hair was perfect every single day. She was smart, beautiful, had a beautiful voice, always had the lead in the plays, the solos with the choir, was a cheerleader, lived in a beautiful house, and went to an exclusive college. She always seemed nice, too.
Because her college was near my state university, I continued to see her name occasionally, starring in the school play or soloing with their choir. Around that time, I started to get annoyed that she was still in my face.
A few years later, I saw her on television doing an infomercial, using her own name like she was a household name. I wondered if she would ever go away. And she did go away for a few years…until I started using the Internet to check in on her charmed life.
She married a billionaire; of course, what else would I expect? Fifty years later, they are still married and have two (I assume perfect) children. She is still creative and now philanthropic. She became interested in composing music and has written various music pieces that have been performed not only in her home city but around the world. Some have even been performed by a major ballet company. She donates the money from all of these ventures to charity. She has written children’s books, is director of a major symphony orchestra, breeds and shows championship dogs, co-chairs a major pet organization, and is on the board of a major cancer hospital. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. She continues to lead what appears to be a very charmed life.
I am not jealous; I may be an atheist, but do believe it is not good to covet your neighbor’s life. Besides, I have a pretty good life myself and like her, it is the one I have chosen to live. She just thought bigger than me and lives a bigger life.”
Our Only Limitations Are The Ones We Impose Upon Ourselves
“There’s this girl from my high school and she is probably the most beautiful person anyone would ever meet. She wasn’t just beautiful in a physical way, she was beautiful in every way imaginable. She had the potential to become anything she wanted. She could have been a runway model, she was that gorgeous, plus she was one of the best athletes at our school. She was smart, funny, outgoing, probably the most popular student, and literally a perfect human being.
If you asked anyone in the school who the most beautiful person attending was, they would answer with her name. She was someone that everyone expected to succeed. But if you asked her what she was going to do after she graduated, she’d say that she was going to go into real estate like her mom did. She’d say that she was going to stay in our small suburban town. She’d say that she was going to lead an average life because that’s all she could amount to.
The most amazing person I ever met said that she wasn’t going to succeed because she thought she was one of the people who ‘peak’ in high school. She didn’t think she’d amount to anything because stereotypical white, popular girls don’t amount to anything.
The cool kids in high school are just like you and me. Some of them are going to make it to the big leagues, while some don’t. Some dream that they will, and others don’t bother to dream at all. Your high school social status doesn’t play a part in anything except the influences that stereotypes impose upon us. It’s all just an illusion.”
He Got Tired Of Living The ‘Phony’ Life
“I wish the cool kids well but I really don’t care. Everyone knew who I was when I went to high school. I had a cool car, tight friends, could freely socialize among all groups, for the most part, was voted most likely to succeed senior year, and I went to a fancy college/medical school. However, a chronic mental illness has pretty much derailed everything. No one knew how depressed I was and how much I was struggling, not even my parents. Nothing is what it seems unless you have actually lived someone else’s life.
Facebook is an absolute no-no for me. The brief time I spent on it, I saw that most people landed decent jobs and some may have the potential to go far in their chosen careers. I am from a ‘Wisteria Lane’ type neighborhood that was not expensive when I was a kid, but most families were intact and kids had good values for the most part.
The few people who knew me back then that I run into on rare occasions are shocked that I did not end up doing great things, but they understand. I am disappointed in myself, but I still consider myself ‘successful’ because I am still in the game when I could have killed myself many times over. I have not been able to have a career or family, but I accept that. I am still fighting but 20 years on it is becoming more difficult.
The bottom line is when you get older ‘cool’ is all relative. Everyone has their insecurities, and no one knows what the future holds for them.
My dad still remembers graduating from college and moving to America. Only 40 years later did he find out that one of his classmates that stayed behind died in a motorcycle accident not long after he left. Think about it, the guy had been dead 40 years and my father did well in his career, had a family, and had the good fortune to retire early. Life is truly a gift and should not be focused on petty things like how some 18-year-old that you were jealous of ‘got his/her due.’ The final thing I have to say is that I got tired of living the ‘phony’ life. I was never the person people thought I was, I was merely the person that everyone expected me to be.”