High school is a complicated time in a young person’s life. Lots of emotions, hormones, oh, and the fact that teenagers are pretty terrible to each other.
Lots of drama, folks.
In this AskReddit article, people reveal what happened to “the cool kids” in their high school when they saw them years later.
1. Dodged a bullet
“One of the football bros at my high school, who was intensely popular, came over to help install a water heater last year and tear out some rotted flooring. I remember him as being kind of a j^rkin school (not to me personally, but that was his general reputation) but he seemed to have mellowed out a lot. Now he’s married with kids. He was really polite to me and my family.
Also, the two ‘cool’ guys who cheated on me have totally let themselves go. They’ve gotten fat now, like Robert Baratheon fat, even though they were both in decent shape when I dated them. It got pretty bad for the one guy who really prided himself on his good looks and his rockin’ bod.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t gloat about it a little bit to myself, from time to time.
Anytime I need an ego boost I just look them up on Facebook and remind myself I dodged a bullet.”
2. The ‘It’ Girl
“I saw the ‘It’ girl and she still looked pretty good, although she’s a bit heavier than when I remember seeing her last at the 5-year reunion.
However, I was filled in by another classmate, later that night at the local watering hole, that she had been up to some things in her personal life.
She got pregnant then engaged to a much older man, right out of high school. That led to her dropping out of her first year of college. They broke up before any wedding and as far as I know, the guy is super gone. Then, she found a new man a couple years later and got engaged again. Except for this time, she almost literally left the guy at the altar.
She never showed up on the day of her own wedding.
Four years later, she found another man, engaged for the THIRD time. She called the whole thing off just three days before their planned wedding.
And so AGAIN last year, she met another man, got pregnant again with baby #2, and then did a super quick courthouse wedding.
She had no professional skills at all aside from finding men to dote on her (which I guess is arguably a profession if it gets you taken care of) and no aspirations to do anything except raise her 2 boys under the loving wallet/protective blanket of her new husband.
I guess it could have been 3 divorces if there is an upside.”
3. 20-Year Reunion
“I just went to my 20-year reunion, though I wasn’t just another attendee, rather I was hired to DJ for the whole event.
First, to clarify my position in the high school pecking order, I was what would be considered a weirdo in high school. I 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.
The only bullies I had when I was younger went to a different school, after junior high, and I never heard from them again. I was also a pretty big class clown. I used humor to keep the more aggressive kids at bay (which worked). When I was in school, art was my biggest passion. It was only about 5 years after I graduated that music took over my life.
So going to my reunion was a trip, to put it mildly.
First thing I noticed, I forgot 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 F*rther 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 (not bully) me, were being very friendly and genuinely happy to see me.
Admittedly I 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 or so 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 the era. The coolest thing though was that a lot of my classmates would bring their own phones up for me to play their favorite music (a lot of it, from local Southern Californian artists they were huge fans of). But perhaps the coolest moment for me was when this crew of guys 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, who lost his life by a rival gang. I gladly played it (twice even), and for a moment I saw these usually incredibly hard, tough guys break down in tears on the dance floor. This was the moment when I realized how stupid high school was, 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.
I’m glad I went to my reunion.
At first, I was a little nervous to go, but ultimately it was a great experience.
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.”
4. The cool guy
“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 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 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 (another Hollywood stereotype that is, nevertheless, true).
With a bit of sadness and nostalgia, I declined his request. I’m more than happy with my twelve Facebook friends.”
5. A charmed life
“I graduated fifty years ago. I only keep track of one person.
She seemed to be perfect in every way – even her hair was perfect every single day. She was smart, beautiful, a beautiful voice, always had the lead in the plays, the solos with the choir, was a cheerleader, lived in a beautiful house, 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, soloing with their choir. Around this 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 and wondered if she would ever go away.
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 music pieces that have been performed not only in her home city but around the world – most recently in St.
Petersburg, Russia. Some have 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 which raised two million dollars recently, is on the board of a major cancer hospital.
She continues to lead what appears online to be a charmed life.”
6. A cautionary tale
“I’m nearly 30, or at least close enough now. Many of the ‘cool kids’ from my high school stayed within the same group and kept the same friends.
As far as careers go, there doesn’t seem to be a set standard though.
Some manage coffee shops, some work at ski resorts, others work in finance, others were able to get various middle-management office jobs through connections, etc. Most of the kids who became lawyers or doctors weren’t considered ‘popular’ by the traditional definition.
I’ve got an alright job, but I’m still very much in the process of getting my life together.
On the bright side, I’ve really focused on my health the past year and most people are very surprised when I tell them I’m nearly 30.
One of the girls was able to amass a large social media following and become an underground electronic musician.
I strongly suspect she has an addiction problem though, based off of some of the stuff she posts on social media. She posts things centered around wealth, celebrity worship, and raves – it’s the epitome of the ‘fast-life.’
In a lot of the pictures, she’s barely wearing any clothes and her skin looks thin, bruised and stretched out over her bones and ribs. Her face looks gaunt and her eyes look lifeless and sunken in.
One of her posts was a photo of her waking up in the hospital connected to various machines and IVs.
I never knew her super well, but she used to have a light and innocent curiosity that’s totally gone. It kind of makes me sad to think about because she legitimately seemed like a nice person at one point, but now she’s kind of turned into a walking cautionary tale about the dangers and sickness of excess.
It’s even worse, considering there are thousands of people online that seem to feed-into and encourage this behavior.”
7. Flamed out way too young
“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.
Fast-forward ten years, and my wife and I were walking through the local mall.
I hear a voice calling my name, and see a blond 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 the 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.
But 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.”
“A lot of the cool kids wanted to be rappers (I’m from Oregon) and you can’t really be a rapper from a suburb it seems. No one from my year made it into professional sports. Most of the cool kids went to a mediocre (according to rankings) college and got a basic job.
Nike is the only cool company in Oregon, so some of them got jobs there.
Half of the beautiful people stayed decent looking, while the other half gained a lot of weight. At our 10 year reunion, a lot of the cool kids didn’t go, probably because they were embarrassed.
As a millennial, we all had to taper our expectations about life eventually. Our parents told us we could be whatever we wanted to. But that’s not true. Not everyone can. You can try, but then you have to make a decision and that means giving up something.
One person from my year went into entertainment and that’s me actually.
Ha! A few others work on set or do the business side of entertainment. There are a few lawyers and a few doctors. The doctors and lawyers were all the smart, ‘uncool kids’ though. I was in between. The other entertainment people were theater and film kids and kinda in between.
We only had a few people go to Ivy Leagues and they were not the cool kids. A few people went into Silicon Valley tech and they weren’t the cool kids either.
Out of a class of 400 people, with like 40 cool kids, no one is envious of their lives.
I’m not sure if people find the lawyers, doctors and entertainment people to have enviable lives, but if they do, know they weren’t the cool kids in high school. But 100% is that the people that were cool and jerks or cool, pretty and mean, none of them from my year have lives that I’m jealous of.”
9. No difference, really
“I have always been the kind of person that floats between camps, never really belonging to any group but still being able to socialize and build relationships with all of them.
I can tell you that the ‘cool kids’ are not really different from the rest, they just get put in the spotlight more.
And you know what, at that age, it does two things: First, they tend to become more arrogant because why wouldn’t a teenager being treated better than other people not believe it? And second, a bubble starts to form around them which often leaves them ignorant of certain things, particularly social issues.
Of course, most teenagers live in a bubble of some sort, but the ones that live in a pleasant bubble are less likely to find their way out of it.
That being said, when I look back at the people I went to high school with and see where they are now, I can’t really see any noticeable pattern.
One ‘cool’ kid went to jail. Then there was another ‘cool kid’ that I thought for sure would end up in jail now. He actually works for NASA as an aerospace engineer.
Similarly, the kids that I would say were my circle, the ones in all of the AP classes who didn’t really get into trouble and maybe weren’t considered the ‘cool kids’ have an equally varied mixture of outcomes.
One guy became a filmmaker, another a struggling musician, a successful salesman, one guy is still living with his parents trying to figure out what to do with his life (we’re in our 30’s now), and I ended up in the wonderful world of technology.”
“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. 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 a pen.’
There was a dance coming up. I got up my courage. She was 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. 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 maybe weighed 200 lbs and had a pretty good mustache going, but it was Jessica.
I tipped her a quarter.”
11. Typical stuff
“11 years down the road. What are the cool kids of my school up to now?
Let see, one girl who bullied me in school is now a mother of 2 boys. She was the meanest girl in school before (I was isolated from everyone because she told everyone I was a ‘dirty’ girl).
She works part-time from home, trying to make ends meets for both her and her husband – she got married because she was knocked up. Her posse? Not doing much as well. Some went on to marry rich guys so they can maintain their maintenance standards, some went to become government servants.
Most just got married and became stay at home moms.
I was the last person expected to be a flight attendant. While I was in school, I was that late-bloomer girl that everyone loves to shake their head at.
When everyone started putting on makeup, I still wrestled with my younger brother in the mud. I wasn’t the nerd, more of an outcast. I live outside of everyone’s bubble and didn’t seem to be affected by social standards.
I went through the motion of high school years in a blur. As I said, being a flight attendant is a career reserved for the pretty girls in school and I was definitely no beauty back then. A popular girl dreamt of being one in school, talk about how nice it would be to become a cabin crew and all the traveling she would do.
I’m doing it on behalf of her now. She always left comments on my Facebook/Instagram pictures, wondering if I’m able to get her free tickets once in a while. This is not a girl who was mean to me in school, more like she ignored my existence.
When the 10 years school reunion was held, it was a bit flattering (and sad at the same time) that most girls didn’t recognize me.
They definitely treated me better because of my appearance now, but close friends had been having a good laugh at my expense on everyone’s confusion to place me somewhere in there high school memories.
To be honest, I kinda enjoyed the ‘pin-drop silence’ moment when they realized who I was, but one of the mean girls treated me like I was still below her, but I don’t mind. Looking at the way she is living her life, I have more things to be grateful for than stoop down to her level.
I unfriended her on Facebook when I realized she was bad mouthing me. One headache was gone.
To be fair, I don’t judge someone’s popularity to be the measure of their achievement out there in the big world.
One popular girl (the drum majorette of my school) went and became the best finance expert our national Bank has, and another went on and became a popular pianist. But the mean (and popular) girls back then seem to realize that their popularity translated into nothing much once they’re out there in the real world.
As for me?
I’m happy where I am right now. Everyone talks about quitting their job and traveling for free, and I get to do it while being paid at the same time. Life has been a great surprise (and a jolly ride) after high school for me.”
12. Small town
“I graduated almost 30 years ago.
Most of the cheerleaders are now mothers with multiple kids (most of whom are either going to or already done with college). The jocks and cool guys largely stayed around town and built up business relationships there.
Some seem successful, some less so. A lot of the guys/girls ended up marrying each other (even the ones who weren’t actively dating each other in high school).
During high school football season, my Facebook page is overwhelmed with posts from people who still go to the games every week, and every 5 years, the reunion dominates the conversation for about 6 months.
I think if you grow up in a relatively small town in a relatively small state, this is probably pretty common. I can count on one hand the number of classmates who left the area and settled elsewhere without coming back.”
13. The class clown
“Our ‘class clown’ is probably, by far, the most well-known and successful person from my high school class – soon after finishing high school he started seriously working out and became a very popular model (I am very happy that he found his place).
Everyone else seems pretty much as I would have expected.
Those ‘cool kids’ who were very good at sports still seem happy and successful at their sport and also doing reasonably well education-wise.
Most of the other ‘cool kids’, who didn’t seem particularly good at or interested in anything except socializing, seem to just have spent a few years flunking out/drifting from one university program to another, eventually graduating with a bachelor’s after 5-6 years instead of 3-4, usually with poor job prospects.
Some still seem to be in that process or gave up getting a degree and are working whatever jobs they can find. Sadly, others are unemployed (though less of them seem unemployed than expected from our country’s huge youth unemployment and our high school providing basically no job skills).
They still seem to have overall been happier and more successful in private lives than I, but I wouldn’t trade.”
14. All kinds of professions
“Our class president became an ambulance-chasing lawyer with terrible ethics. However, his tremendous success has allowed him to live in a suburb of New York City in a multi-million dollar house with a trophy wife.
The popular athletes mostly became cops or retail management.
The popular cheerleader types seem to have become office workers of various sorts.
The kids that everyone would have pegged as the academic superstars became accountants and software salesmen. The kids that nobody would have thought would amount to anything pretty much didn’t amount to anything, with a few exceptions (one guy became a nurse and is now very involved in elder rights and health).
A couple went to prison. To a certain extent, many of these kids were dealt a bad hand from the beginning.
In fact, the most successful were sort of the people that weren’t popular but widely respected for one reason or another, ones that worked reasonably hard in school, were bright, but otherwise unassuming.
One went on to make over $100 million on a widely successful console game. Another became a writer for Rolling Stone. We had a couple of professional comedians. Many are professors, doctors, lawyers, and scientists (like myself).
Most of my high-school class, however, simply went to college for whatever they were interested in and took a job doing something very respectable and very average.”
“There was this popular girl in high school, called Kristy.
She thought she was so great and so pretty. Everyone thought she was super cool. I was in the same group as her and had to put up with her, even though I really didn’t like her and she didn’t like me either.
She was always making snide comments to me about my appearance or making fun of my sister’s epilepsy.
Anyway, I’m 30 now and I saw her, and she just seems sad. She looks all scraggy, needs a haircut, sunken in face, gets around in disgusting looking clothing and no shoes.
She is skin and bone. She also has 5 kids and is on welfare.”