Amazing Life Stories: Back-to-School Edition

Tell us your story for a chance to be published in Reader's Digest and win $25,000.

Make a long story short for your chance to be published in Reader’s Digest and win $25,000. Here are a few of our favorite entries so far in our “Your Life: The Reader’s Digest Version” contest. After reading these, head over to Facebook and enter your own story about a special moment or lesson that shaped your life.

“Love Letters”
By Chelsee Pengal

In fifth grade, Brett liked me. I knew because he teased me relentlessly. One day, he stole the hat from my head and used it in a game of catch with his friends. Later, I received a note that said: Sorry I took your hat. I like you. Do you like me? —Brett. My ten-year-old brain couldn’t process the strange feelings I had, so I did what any girl who might like a boy would do when faced with this dilemma. I wrote back: No. After Brett read the note, he immediately ran off and started joking with his friends as if nothing had happened, but the teasing stopped. Permanently. Almost 20 years later, I’m sure his heart has mended, but mine never has. It’s a little-known fact I learned that day in fifth grade: when you break someone’s heart, a part of yours goes missing, too.

“These Boots Were Made for Walking”
By Deborah McEwin

The local department store had a shiny pair of white boots on display in the window. Everyday on my way home from school, I would admire these boots. The cost of the boots was not in our budget. I wanted them so badly but knew we could not afford them. One day after school, the boots were gone when I went by the store. It made me so sad. I moped and felt sorry for myself all the way home. Can you imagine my surprise when I got home and found the shiny, new, white boots sitting on the table? Nancy Sinatra had a popular song at that time and I would walk everywhere (in my new boots) singing, “these boots are made for walking and that is what I’ll do” I believe I had to be the happiest 10 year old on the planet!

“My Life in 150 Words”
By Andora Henson

My life in one word is easy — blessed. My life in 150 words is a little harder. Here are some words from the beginning; poor, afraid, abused, hungry, but that was only part of it. Mix in laughter, love, family, and adventure and the picture becomes a little clearer. Words have always played a big part in my life. Reading was my escape, writing my reprieve. School was my refuge. Fast forward twenty years and I still love words, family is even more important, but those first words have changed to happy, joyous, strong, and hopeful. Now I’m saved, set free, in love with Tommy and with life. Jacob is growing and Shelby and Haley soon became our daughters. Life isn’t perfect, it’s not supposed to be, but the love of God is and that is enough. Never give up; your words can change too

By Anne Sawan

His name is Eddie. The big, tall maple that lived in our front yard. We named it Eddie because momma always said there was a refreshing eddy of a breeze that would come right around that tree in the sticky, hot summer. Eddie is in all our family photographs, the first day of school: “Go stand near Eddie so I can take a picture.” Easter: “Kids line up near Eddie. Quick, before you go get your church clothes all dirty!” Prom: “Why don’t you and George go stand over near Eddie? Ya’ll look so grownup!” Eddie was the home base for our massive neighborhood games of hide and seek “I gotcha ya!” “No way. I tagged Eddie first!” Eddie is still the first thing I see when I pull up to my parents’ house. A few less leaves, bending perhaps a bit more, but standing proud, delivering his cool breeze.

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  • Your Comments

    • Angela

      “Everyone is like a butterfly, they start out ugly and awkward and then morph into beautiful graceful butterflies that everyone loves.” This quote, by Drew Barrymore, is very relevant to my life and the challenging experiences I have had. I grew up in Colombia and always wanted to come to the United States. However, I had no idea of the challenges that I would face once I arrived, because of the lack of family support, cultural shock, and a medical condition. Today, I can honestly say, that I feel like a butterfly. I was able to cope with, and survive, hardships and find the beautiful side of myself.

      I come from a family of four that includes my mother, my father, and my older sister. I arrived in the United States in 2007, at the age of nine. My goals were to learn the language, receive a better education, and become successful. However, things did not always work out the way I anticipated. My mom stayed in Colombia because my paternal grandmother did not submit an application for her to receive her visa. Once here, we were sent to live with my grandmother, and I barely saw my dad due to work. My sister and I had to do chores for my grandmother and if we did not complete them, we would not get fed. Her attitude towards my sister and I was very negative, she was physically and mentally abusive. My father had no idea and we were afraid to tell about the conditions in which we were living. I felt very alone until, when my mother finally arrived. When she arrived, she had an argument with my grandmother because of the way we were treated and we finally moved away.

      One of my biggest difficulties after arriving in the United States, was adjusting to the new culture. At school, I had a very hard time building friendships. I did not know the language and even though I was eager to learn, I had noone to trust. I was a victim of bullying because I did not know how to defend or stand up for myself. After building relationships and learning the language a bit better, I fell in love with a boy named Abel Deluna. He was not only my boyfriend, but also my best friend. My life was turned upside down, when in the summer of 2013, he died tragically in an accident.

      Another challenging experience was the way in which I coped with all of these difficult situations. I had developed a very dangerous medical condition, bulimia. This was the way in which I took control of my life, after being victimized by my grandmother, bullied in school, and losing a loved one. This turned into a much deeper problem with depression that needed immediate attention. I am so glad that I spoke to my parents about what was happening and that I am now getting medical attention.

      The situations I experienced were very tough. I never thought that one day I would compare my life to the life of a butterfly. Looking through a different lens, I was a caterpillar my whole life with goals of becoming a butterfly that went through many trials and tribulations. The events in my life acted as my cocoon, transforming and preparing me for the right time to fly and show my beauty. I am currently able to speak with confidence, having joined the school music and theater performance team, and I am taking college dual-enrollment classes. I am proud to say that I have overcome many adversities to be an example for those in similar situations. Letting others know that I, like a butterfly, did not know the true colors of my own wings.

    • Nilo Beltran

      In my 3rd grade in school, my mother and my step dad was
      separated. I was left at my step dad house and lately he took a new wife. I
      suffered from maltreatment from both of them. I saw my self like a chicks
      without a hen that protect from the 
      enemies. Most of the time I can’t go to school because I need to do
      house jobs. During my hardship time, I realized that there are more kids and
      teenager can not afford to go for study because of money and far from school. Those
      trials in my life and situation that I have encountered made me strong and
      inspired to do a volunteerism work(mobile) 
      by teaching  SKILLS and VALUES
      to  the OUT of SCHOOL YOUTH and JOBLESS
      ADULTS in the far and remote areas in our province. I am trying to put a bridge
      from their dreams going to the reality to have an education/SKILLS ,have a good
      job and have  a joyful life with their

    • Michmwshngtn

      These stories are as flat as a pancake. Are these people serious?  They totally lack imagination.

    • Michmwshngtn

      These stories are as flat as a pancake. Are these people serious?  They totally lack imagination.

    • Michmwshngtn

      These stories are as flat as a pancake. Are these people serious?  They totally lack imagination.

    • Michmwshngtn

      These stories are as flat as a pancake. Are these people serious?  They totally lack imagination.

    • Michmwshngtn

      These stories are as flat as a pancake. Are these people serious?  They totally lack imagination.

    • HarEem IftIkhar

      how can i publish my short story?:/