5 Amazing Life Stories

Updated: Mar. 28, 2022

Here are a few of our favorite entries so far in our contest. Enter your own story about an experience that shaped your life.

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 go to Facebook to enter your own witty or poignant story about a moment or life lesson that shaped your life.

“Just Be.”
by Glenore Weal

When I was 12, I wanted to be 16. When I was 16, I wanted to be 18 so badly, I could barely sit still. When I turned 18, 21 seemed the perfect age. As a child I questioned, over analyzed, speculated and assumed that when I got “older” I’d figure it all out and know who I was and what I wanted to be. I’d finally become like those annoying kids in my 5th grade class who confidently shouted, “I want to be a teacher!” “I want to be a lawyer!” I wanted to smack them. I never knew. I’m 57 and I’m still not sure. But I’m not expecting that the light will come on when I reach 60. Who was it that said life is a journey, not a destination? Corny. But true. I no longer have a pressing need to be “something”. I can just BE.

“My Journey through Foster Care”
By Heather Walker

I grew in the foster care system having some good experiences as well as some that at times would make me want to give up in my own life, feeling as though I no longer had the strength to fight for what I believed in. I was determined to be different. From the age of 13 to 16 I was placed eight times in the states of Indiana, Illinois and Georgia. I was emancipated at the age of 19. Twenty three and single I took on the responsibility of raising my 13 year old cousin. I am a foster parent myself and have adopted. I also recently wrote a children’s book called Charlie Foster “In the Beginning”. It’s a story about a child’s journey through the foster care system. I finally feel I have won this battle and have a voice. I am proud of who I am, what I’ve been through and where I’m going.

“A meaningless diagnosis”
By Brian Mayer

Most would not smile in my position. I sat across from the psychiatrist, holding my wife’s hand as our two year old son played inattentively in the background. “The severity of your son’s autism will likely prevent him from ever being independent. It is very possible that he will never speak or have friends. The comorbidity of mental retardation will compound these challenges.” The psychiatrist paused and examined our expressions. My wife clenched my hand a little tighter, but she too smiled because we knew firsthand that the diagnosis was meaningless: at age three, a psychologist told my parents the same thing about me.

“Perseverance Around Life’s Blind Corners”
By Melia Keller

I came home from the Iraq war to the job of my dreams and the resources to buy a beautiful home. Then the economy turned and I was laid off. I stayed positive and put my nose to the grindstone. Months went by with no luck, so like many Americans I sold my home at a loss and forfeited my down payment. I wouldn’t quit. I decided to aim higher and apply for more senior level positions. My homework paid off. I got am even higher paying job. The congratulatory flowers poured in. Two weeks later I was let go—no reason. I was devastated. I’m sorry flowers arrived next. I could have put my head in the sand, but I picked myself up and started consulting. A board noticed my work ethic and positive attitude while consulting. They offered me a job as their new President/CEO. I took it.

“Can you point me to my hometown?”
By Greg Grantham

“From the DC area.” It’s what I say when someone asks “where are you from?” It gets you there without getting too specific. What I can’t answer is, “where is your hometown?” upper Marlboro, Maryland, where I was adopted, caught fireflies, played baseball, wrote little stories and made sling shots and forts in the woods. Great Falls, Virginia, where we moved for better schools, returned from college, where my parents live, and where we still visit for the holidays. Richmond, where I met my wife, bought my first house and brought home our first son. And what about Atlanta? Where I’m watching my sons grow, coaching their games, carving out a career and learning to love gardening, guitar and fly fishing. My wife says, “Why does it matter, who cares?” Well, Facebook does. They just asked me to update my profile, and it got me thinking.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest