An Internet User Asked, “What Did You Learn Embarrassingly Late In Life?” And Here Are The 80 Best Answers

We tend to have an idea of the various things we should know about, taxes, death, and simple math, but we are burdened with the knowledge that we are supposed to know it by a certain age. Out of embarrassment, we just don’t let on that we aren’t sure about something, as at that point we are too afraid to ask

One internet user wanted to learn what others only realized way too late in life. The lessons ranged from practical to juvenile to poignant, so make sure to upvote your favorites and comment your own experiences as you scroll through. And take notes in case some of these are relevant to your own life.

More info: Reddit


There's no such thing as "feeling like an adult" I'm 34 and still forget I'm an adult sometimes lol

Image credits: scelestai


That I don't have to become a mother if I don't want to.

Image credits: detective_kiara


Hr is there to protect the company, not you. Hr is not your friend.

Image credits: Puzzleheaded-Mood689

Not knowing something can be embarrassing. Particularly when we know that we are sort of supposed to know it already. Depending on your age, you have perhaps had that feeling of still being a child “faking it” in an adult world, despite being in your mid-twenties. It’s simultaneously relieving and unnerving that most people in the developed world do not actually feel like adults until they are 29. It’s almost like we become adults at 18 and then need a decade testing it to decide if it’s a good fit. 

So even if all of one's peers still feel like overgrown children, people still suspect that most are just well-adjusted, and competent and know that pickles are just cucumbers. Or that doves are just white pigeons, which is so deeply shocking that those city trash birds and the symbol of peace are one and the same. But the bottom line is that we tend to project competence to others while overestimating it in them. 


Trying to treat myself as I would others.

The ol' reverse golden-rule

Image credits: kageroshajima


Who I am is more important than how I look.

Image credits: Lazy-Thanks8244


4% of 25 is the same as 25% of 4

Image credits: cdn_gooner

Many of the examples are simply the age-old issue of hearing a word or phrase before reading it or vice versa. "Piqued my interest," for example, is correct, not "peaked." One would be forgiven for thinking it’s peaked, because in what other circumstances is someone saying piqued? Like many of the annoying parts of the English language, French is to blame. Piqued is simply a rendition of “pique,” meaning irritate or prick in French. From the outside, it seems silly to be judgmental towards a person for confusing a common word for a rare, foreign construction in an idiom.


Pickles are brined cucumbers. Only found out a few years ago. I'm about to turn 42.

Image credits: Goose1981


It never made sense to me that we would go under tables during an earthquake, because wouldnt the ground crack open? The table wouldnt do anything then?

Wasnt until last year I realised that it was to stop debris from falling on us. Smh

Image credits: whats_yesterday


That cows had to have had a calf to make milk. They don’t just make milk. I had to be a mom myself and nurse my kid when it dawned on me.

Image credits: ababyalady

Others shared deeper, more personal experiences. From relationships to self-worth, life is the only effective teacher. Many people end up staying in bad, toxic relationships, whether with a partner or just a bad friend group, for longer than they should, even when they recognize the toxicity of the situation. People only know what they know, which is endlessly circular logic and redundant, but remains ultimately true. If a person doesn’t know any better, they will continue to be around people who are just bad for them, since self-worth isn’t really a class one can take at school. 


That we should shake the CEO's hand with the exact same enthusiasm and firmness as the janitors hand.

Image credits: tfresh2death


1. Everyone is just f*cking winging it.
2. “The rules” do not apply evenly.
3. Everyone around you will always prioritize their needs first, regardless of any verbal assurance to the contrary.

Image credits: ohhappyday88


Parents have names too, learned at like 9 or 10

Image credits: Rooster_Keystone

Similar to the ignorance about pickles or thinking that one has to buy shoes and clothes to grow into as an adult, many people also feel embarrassed to admit that they are in a toxic relationship or friendship. We see our social circle as a reflection of ourselves, so admitting that they might be bad feels like telling everyone how dumb we are. Embarrassment is a particularly bad teacher since studies show that it doesn’t even create a drive to avoid similar behavior in the future. So it’s mostly your brain making you feel bad but refusing to build something useful out of it. The one upside is that embarrassment means you are more or less mentally normal, as a lack of embarrassment is a sign of psychopathy.


I learnt that we're supposed to brush both sides of our teeth . The inner side needs to be brushed as well.
I saw all of the commercials just showing them brushing the outer portion so i assumed that this is the way

Image credits: FaTes-EnD


That treating people with respect and being honest are not mutually exclusive

Image credits: Seannaboy0923


Why girls in high school often didn't participate during sports class.

"You don't feel well? Why don't you go home if your sick?"

10 years later: aaaaaaahhh...

Image credits: _Steven_Seagal_

You can also take heart in the knowledge that, well, knowledge is growing a lot faster than any of us can actually process it. In the English language alone, there are between 500’000 and 1’000’000 books published every year. Even at the lowest estimate, you would need to read 1369.86 books a day to keep up. This equals roughly 57 books an hour. Even the most prolific Goodreads liars are not likely to think that is possible. More importantly, no one around you is reading 57 books an hour, much less just one. And if you want to read what embarrassingly obvious things others learned late in life, check out our other articles here and here.


“Queue” is not pronounced like “kwee wee”. I learned this in a meeting at work when I mispronounced it.

Image credits: blastocladiomycota


That I'm an introvert and shouldn't try to replicate the lives of the extroverts around me.

Also, I'm nowhere near as booksmart as I thought I was.


I learned that other people's opinions of me don't matter. MY opinion of me matters, and since I hold myself to an exceptionally high standard....I'M AWESOME!!


Insurance and credit cards. Trying to figure out basic adult finance stuff without any guidance or help will force you to feel like an idiot for a long time.

Image credits: Cheetodude625


Martha Stewart does not own Martha's Vineyard....

Image credits: valhalla-at-your-grl


Riding a bike at 15

Image credits: Graehaus


My grandmother had a clock that would break if anyone touched or tried to move it.

I always found that curious. Then some time in my 30s my wife and I were talking and it came up. I was wondering how they moved it out of their house after they passed. As I was explaining “… I think it must have had some delicately balanced mechanism or something that would be disrupted if moved…” my wife’s face made me quickly realize it was just a lie told to young me to keep my dirty clumsy hands off of it.

Also, I’m an engineer.


I got a good one! I grew up and Brooklyn, New York. Believe it or not I never knew j walking was a thing. So when I was in my 20’s I ended up in Hawaii thanks to the military. I was crossing Kalākaua Ave in the middle of the street and two cops started yelling at me. They were yelling at me about j walking and I thought they were messing with me. I started laughing and told them that not real. One of them got real mad and wanted to detain me but his partner was like “ where you from? “ I told them Brooklyn and they both started laughing and explained to me that the rest of the U.S. has this thing called j walking. ?? I felt pretty silly afterwards not knowing a pretty common law.


That the housework can wait awhile. To sit and enjoy the dinner I just cooked with my family. The dishes will still be there when I get to them, they ain't going anywhere lol


How to brush my teeth.

I was super neglected as a child so that is something I've always struggled with and even after going to a dentist for 2 years and having exams every 4 months I only learned last month that you need to brush your gums ??


If you come from a poor family, you have to work x3 as hard to get ahead.


The adults in my life never had it figured out either, they just made it seem like that to a kid.


you know metal? that genre of music that's loud and yelly?

it's called metal because it's harder than rock


That my height shapes how people perceive what I say. I'm a 6'4 male with a deep voice. I learned it at 40 when I had a boss who was 6'6. I was suddenly aware of my own height and the power position, looking up to him. I realized pretty much everyone is looking up at me, and I began smiling more and asking people questions about themselves to reduce the power implications of my height.

Image credits: ClydePincusp


Actual hygiene. It wasn’t until I was 12 and went to summer camp for the first time that I realized when you shower you’re suppose to wash yourself with soap. I would just wash my hair and hangout for while because I liked the hot water, THANK GOD I DIDN’T SWEAT A LOT.


There is no common sense.


Life is too short. Take the time to stop and smell the roses. RIP Myles grandpa loves and misses you


I used to say "f**k it I'll be dead by 20 and if not I guess I'll regret this s**t later". Almost 30 and still alive, should have died multiple times, but got lucky and now I do regret a lot of s**t. So basically I learned it's cool to live for the day, but do expect tomorrow just in case.


That paprika is just crushed red pepper


The hole women pee out of isn’t the same hole they stick the tampon in


On a more serious note. I learned way too late that sometimes I was the bad guy.

I was raised in a house where everyone was so defensive. Nothing was ever anyone’s fault. I still jump on the defense with my husband now.

After some bad decisions and burned bridges I realized that not everyone is willing to overlook you doing something wrong if all you do is say it’s not your fault. You are sometimes the bad guy in someone’s story.

I find it really difficult to deal with my family after realizing this. But hey ho.


That male circumcision is not just a Jewish thing and that I'm circumcised


How to say the last name Nguyen.


How to tie my shoes did not till 19. My parents brother and cousins all tried. I just couldn't understand it when I was 6, so I just stopped trying to learn and tucked my laces in my socks.


How to dry myself off with a towel, I didn’t have parents who taught me basic things, they had too many kids. I saw in movies they would just wrap themselves in a towel and leave the shower. That’s what I would do and I remember always being told I got water everywhere but never understood why until a few years ago…..I’m 30.


That sex is nothing to be ashamed of. I grew up in a strict, repressive household. Became sexually active at 18 but felt a lot of guilt over it which didn't go away for a couple years. Those feelings negatively impacted my relationship at that time.


My whole life is an embarrassment if that counts. I'm in my thirties and I still struggle with basics.


Stop expecting things to be fair


I have ADHD, penny dropped at 43 years old.


That there are tons of people out there who engage in sexual intercourse with other people not for the purpose of reproduction, but rather for enjoyment reasons, and that I am a part of a minority group of people called "asexuals".

I'm still trying to wrap my head around this, but it has gone a long way to explain why I see so many people in relationships with terrible people who don't want to leave, or why something as unfathomable as cheating to me can seem like something valid to many others.


That your parents don't know what's the best for you, only you do


That just because two people are in love doesn't mean they should be together


Hot showers. I was 31 when I figured them out. I know it sounds stupid but hear me out.

I showered with the same temperature water I’d wash my hands with, it was warm-ish but it wasn’t hot. I always thought it was weird they advised against washing face in shower since water was the same temperature. Id use the Vick’s shower tablets when I felt congested only to have to squat to be able to get any of the steam. I laugh back at it now

2 years ago I was having shoulder pain and was told to run hot water on it. I did my usual hot water for a few days and nothing happened then one day I turned the hot water up and bam! I felt something release after a few minutes. I had some of the vicks laying around and threw a tablet down. I had to turn it down because the smell was too strong, didn’t even need to squat.

I was ?


Envision a future you can enjoy even if if seems impossible


I thought people said “Florida ceiling” when referring to floor to ceiling windows til I was like 25 lmaooo made sense to me ??‍♀️


That you don’t have to put your knife *through the tines of the fork to cut stuff




I was late to the Santa party. I don't remember how old but old enough to feel like an idiot.


It was some point in high school, probably around 10th grade, that it was made clear to me that two non-infected gay men engaging in monogamous non-protected intercourse didn’t magically produce the hiv/aids. To be clear I literally thought the simple act of gay sex resulted in hiv/aids.


Gas stations weren't built over natural refined gas reserves below ground, and that gasoline was shipped to gas stations


That I belonged to a cult


You can't ever rely entirely on any family or friends for life.


That skunks weren't only a French thing. Pepe le Pew had me thinking all skunks live in France


That not everyone has a storyline ongoing inside their heads.
I used to be inside my own and would laugh at things happening in my story, and everyone would look at me funny; so glad that I wear a mask now.


French toast can be made with other breads besides raisin bread


That elephants aren't as big as 2 story buildings :(((. Still very dissapointed about that one


Didn't know about the arrow that points to the side the gas tank is on until I was about 40.


Women can be just as cruel as men.


I have too many... um when I learned that digimon literally means digital monsters ?


That there are no guarantees, you may never find love, tragedy may befall you, you may not win, you may die alone.


Don’t be a naive b***h, sadly I just learned this lesson


The importance of saving money or buying property early


That bob seger was not singing about a night moose. I never really bothered to listen to the lyrics and that was the only part of the song that stuck out to me.


That my parents are human beings who make mistakes and not perfect divine beings


That my happiness and feelings matter too. I have always felt that I was there to support others and being the best person I can, and all it lead to was people taking advantage of me or making me feel like I did something wrong if I wasn’t what they wanted. I don’t feel that way anymore. I am not going to apologize to people treating me like c**p anymore. I only put my energy into people that actually deserve it now.


Teachers lie when they say “there are no such things as stupid questions”. I’ve asked so many stupid questions LOL


This "Itsy Bitsy Spider" song is not in fact about a spider in a bathtub.

I always though the "water spout" in the song was the water spigot in a tub and the rain washing the spider out was someone turning the tub water on.

I was well into my 20s and looking for parts to repair my house when I realized that a "water spout" is actually a rain gutter. So the spider was in a gutter and the rain that washed it out was literally just rain.


How to navigate the academic landscape effectively.


Tibet is *not* pronounced "Ti-bay", as if it were french


That you can turn light switches on and off in og half life


Social skills. Thank you hallucinogens.


How to pronounce "salmon"


That being a fat guy my whole life was not the best choice.


Investing is super easy. Wish I would of started when I was 18.


That I know nothing