For many young people who enrol in intermediate VET (Ciclos Formativos de Grado Medio – CFGM, ISCED 3B), the transition from compulsory education or other alternative programmes becomes a complex process, where the possibility of reconstructing their academic identities positively is highly relevant. In this article we aim to illustrate the complexity of this process, through the narratives and trajectories of five young people who decide to restart a CFGM after having dropped out of previous ones. The data comes from a broader study, based on qualitative methodologies, which explores ways of constructing and reconstructing socio-school identities in a group of 19 students from the first year of a CFGM in an industrial specialty. The strategic use of expressions like «liarla» (messing about) and «rayarse» (getting wound up) in their stories shows the transition from a counter-school identity that is dominant in compulsory education to a process of withdrawal with regard to the subject in its passage through the CFGM. The entry into the new VET school culture will be marked by confusion and loneliness on being confronted by a new environment where the tools with which, in compulsory education, they «were at least someone» no longer have any value. The ways in which they try to reconstruct their school lives coherently show us how these attempts to combine past, present and future in their stories also involve resolving the contradictions in the educational system itself, of which in part they are an effect.