I don't have a real dramatic story, but here's how it happened with me:
I work long and late hours at my family's business in a marginal area of town. Not exactly bad, but near a homeless shelter which is the center of activity for a certain demographic.
I'm a real homebody, back then I only went once a week to the store, once a week to a movie, and mainly just between work and home. However,
just walking across the street to my car I had lots of little incidents. The most common is a simple request for money (I don't carry cash). But another time a junkie stuck his hand in my closing (!) car door to stop me and give me his story about needing bus money. Not only had he given me the same spiel a couple weeks before, it was four in the morning! No buses. Another time, as I was crossing the street, a carload of stupid young males (tm) starting yelling crap at me from the other side of the intersection. I think they had me confused with someone, I wasn't paying much attention to their diatribe. I kind of hid behind a huge signpole where they couldn't see me. When the light turned green, they just drove past, fortunately.
I never panicked or got scared, but I felt helpless, and angry at myself for being helpless. That actually might have been the impetus for me to start taking Krav Maga (unarmed combat for those that don't know). There were numerous other times when I've gotten the eye from groups of guys, usually two young guys. You know, like they are sizing you up as a potential victim.
In the meantime I had bought a house, bought a gun to protect that house, started hanging out on Glocktalk to learn about the gun, got educated about all manner of ballistic related topics, and finally decided I would make the leap, well, more of a hop by that point, to carry.
You know, the common thread to everyone's story here seems to be a developing awareness of the world as it truly is and our delicate place in it. I don't know if being a human being on the planet Earth is a privilege or a right, but it doesn't take much to ruin our fragile position and everything we've come to cherish. The fortunate amongst us had this awareness ingrained into us from an early age by our parents. The unlucky ones had a sudden, violent awakening. I was lucky to have the chance to develop that awareness on my own time. Reading some of the stories here, I'm really grateful for that.