We all might have more in common than we think, especially when it comes to getting embarrassed over something we thought we knew (but really didn't). Reddit user LightningCole asked the members of the online community to share some of the things that they learned embarrassingly late. With over 18.6k comments in the thread, we can say for sure that it’s one of those universal secrets that nearly everyone can relate to. What’s obvious to you might not be obvious to us!
Remember to upvote your fave answers as you chuckle your way down this list. After you’re done, let us know in the comments what things you learned embarrassingly late in life, dear Pandas! Did you think that chocolate milk comes from brown cows until you were 30? Maybe you thought that the European Council and the Council of the European Union were one and the same at some point in your life? We can’t wait to read what you have to share.
Bored Panda spoke about embarrassing knowledge blind spots and why they're, well, embarrassing with Vanessa Bohns, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at Cornell University. Bohns also explained what the healthiest way to react to embarrassment is. Scroll down and have a read.
That not every woman who's nice to me is interested in me, they're just being friendly. Wished someone made that clearer when I was younger, would've saved me a lot of embarrassment and stupid moments in high school and early college.
When I was 20, I was presented with a really wonderful promotion. It required me to fly to a nearby state for a week of training. I was super ecstatic about the whole thing... until I remembered a friend of mine complaining about her struggles with getting a passport. So, I promptly declined the promotion. My superiors were really stumped as to why I turned down the promotion.
Me: Unfortunately, I don’t have a passport.
Manager: Boringberry... you’ve never flown before, have you?
Me: No. I have not.
Manager: You don’t need a passport to fly within the country.
And then it hit me- my friend was going to Mexico. I was just going to a neighboring state. Once the realization hit, my superiors all erupted in laughter.
The story itself followed me when I went to training. My trainer personally greeted me and asked me if I had any difficulties getting a passport before laughing.
When I was little my Dad told me the big cooling towers that are often found beside electricity generating plants were in fact cloud machines and the prime minister of the day had a switch on his desk to turn the big machine on when it got too hot.
This made complete sense to me as they did produce big clouds of white cumulus-like exhaust when operating.
Fast forward to when I was around 11 years ago and the teacher asks if anyone knows why some days are dry and some days it rains, some days have blue sky and some days have clouds.
Of course at the mention of clouds I knew immediately where clouds come from and stuck my hand up to tell everyone about the prime minister and the cloud machines.
Luckily the teacher picked someone else for the answer and I was most confused to hear someone go on about evaporation and rainfall and so on.
"We spend a lot of time and effort presenting an ideal version of ourselves to other people. When something happens that contrasts with the image we’ve been projecting—when we say or do something that shows we actually aren’t as graceful or as smart as we’d like people to believe—we feel embarrassed," Bohns said.
"Discovering you were wrong about something most everyone else around you has long known to be true is one of those moments. In that moment we learn, 'Wait a minute, maybe I haven’t been presenting the image of being smart or worldly that I thought I was presenting all this time,' which is embarrassing."
That Hawaii was a country before the U.S. annexed it. Unsurprisingly they do not teach us that in high school history class...
That the world owes you nothing.
You can be a good person and that's fine but it won't lead to you being blessed with nice things; people can use you if you're too nice to them
I grew up thinking that my life was special and that I was destined for greatness but I'm now just another fish in the sea
I have a cousin who quotes Yogi Berra on a fairly regular basis, and it wasn't until last Thanksgiving that I realized he's a real person, and that my cousin hasn't been admiring the words of Yogi Bear all this time.
Bohns pointed out to Bored Panda that embarrassment has its positive sides—it’s not all bad like some of us believe.
“One thing that’s interesting about embarrassment is that, for as much as we might experience it as painful in the moment, it’s actually very socially adaptive. Being embarrassed signals to other people that you care about what they think. And that actually draws people in to you,” she said.
“So blushing, burying your head in your hands, laughing, acknowledging how embarrassing something was, are all totally healthy ways to react,” Bohns explained to us that we shouldn’t feel embarrassed about, well, feeling embarrassed.
Rottweilers are not just fat Dobermans.
That truffles are a mushroom as well as a chocolate. When people talked about sending pigs in the forest to hunt for truffles I thought they’d buried chocolates in there to teach pigs how to dig food up
I was 21
Riding a bicycle. I learnt it at 18, my parents believed in an astrologer who told them that I would have a terrible accident when I drive or ride. So I had to learn bicycle secretly from a friend.
“The unhealthy way to react is to pretend you’re not embarrassed, that you didn’t make a mistake, or to get angry. Those things undo the positive effect of embarrassment typically has on other people by conveying insincerity and pushing people away rather than drawing them in,” Bohns said.
Knowledge blind spots are something that we’ll always have. To some extent. We’ll never be able to get rid of all of them but we should do our best to improve ourselves constantly.
However, the problem isn’t so easy because you don’t know what you don’t know or what you’re wrong about. It’s not like we spend every single second of every day analyzing every bit of knowledge in our minds. Nobody’s got that kind of time—we’ve got other things to do!
It's hard to explain this one and I can't google it to find pictures. Everyone has bought a tube of "cream" at some point (antiseptic / steroid / eczema) for example. On some of these "creams", have you noticed that the lid is circular but in the centre of the lid it has a sharp pointy end? Typically, these tubes of "cream" have a seal and I used to remove the lid and break the seal by finding anything sharp and pointy nearby (pen maybe). It took my 23 years to realise that the pointy end in the centre of the lid has a purpose...
Thought an orgasm and an organism were the same thing.
Gave an entire speech to my class at 13 years old, first month at a new school, about how I wanted to be a marine biologist and work with marine orgasms. Everyone was laughing and I didn't know why. The teacher didn't say anything just laughed along as well. A girl I'd just made friends with had to fill me in after class.
Turns out, they are definitely not the same thing.
I only recently found out that ponies are not baby horses, but full-sized ponies.
Some blind spots are related to a lack of education and worldliness and can be corrected by actively seeking out new information and perspectives, bit by bit. Reading new books, watching films, going to lectures, meeting new people—all of these things slowly fill in any gaps in knowledge that we might have. It’s a long and involved process but it might just be the easy part.
Other blind spots that we have are related to our assumptions and preconceptions about the world which might not always be right. However, we’re so emotionally invested in holding on to these ideas that we don’t want to let go. Because it feels like we’re losing a part of ourselves.
I thought the phrase 'mix by hand' meant to literally shove your hands in the batter and mix, not use a spoon or a mixer. I didn't learn the truth until my mother found me wrist-deep in brownie batter.
That Washington D.C wasn't in the state of Washington...
You know when the doctor hits your knee to check your reflexes? I honestly thought you were supposed to kick your leg up high. Like you felt it and you kick. It wasn’t until I was 23 and moved to another country and had to do a physical that the doctor was like what are you doing?!
If we’re truly sincere about wanting to get rid of our blind spots, then we have to put our points of view out there and be prepared to learn that we’re wrong. Over and over again. It’s a painful process (it’s bound to bruise our egos) but it’s the quickest way to learn.
So if you’re prepared to take the temporary hits to your self-esteem, even learning new things embarrassingly late doesn’t have to be embarrassing!
Not me but my husband.
He didn't know that meat is the animals muscles. He thought every animal had a bodypart named "meat".
He had a bit of an emotional crisis when I told him. He is actually a very intelligent man, but this fact had eluded him as his mother had not wanted to upset him as a child.
That Houston is not the name of the guy astronauts talk to.
Pickles are pickled cucumbers. Took me over 30 years to figure that one out.
When I was in 4th grade i was in love with Chris brown. He was 16. I told my mom when i was 16 we would start dating.... she proceeded to inform me that when I was 16 he would no longer be 16. That’s when I realized everyone was also getting older, not just me
Martha's Vineyard isn't just some land that rich people went to that was owned by Martha Stewart.
That K9 stands for "canine"... Like K9 unit in police is dog unit.
I thought buffalos were birds, and buffalo wings were from said birds.
Glass objects should not be put on the stove. Guess how I learned that.
Thought guerilla warfare was humans in a war against gorilla's
I thought the 'do not pass' road sign literally meant 'do not die here.' I had to ask my grandpa what would happen if someone got into a car accident and died there.
The expression "You can't have your cake and eat it too" I'm like... wat? of course you can eat your cake if you have it wtf are all these people talking about? took me til my 20s to figure out it was actually meaning you cant both have the cake on the counter and have eaten it.
That I do better on my own. Took three divorces before I got a clue.
Pilot and co-pilot actually has the same hierarchy. I thought that co-pilot is some kind of assistant to the pilot
Goats are not male sheep.
I refused to touch goat cheese until I was 14.
That it's "pay per view" not "paper view".
Now I'm someone whos very uptight about sex/nudity around my parents. Imagine Hank Hill hearing his mom talk about sex. He'd say "BWAAAAAHHHH!!!"
It was the late 90s, I was 15, Limp Bizkit was all the rage. To my knowledge my mom had never heard limp bizkit. I didn't understand what the song was about. I wasn't prepared for what followed.
"What does the word Nookie mean?"
"It means an abundance of mindless repetitive sex."
And I've never felt more cringe then in that moment. That was the day I learned to always use a dictionary first.
That I was in fact NOT missing a testicle. Thought there was supposed to be 3 until I was like 14 years old.
I was circumcised. I never knew I was circumcised until I went to the pediatrician and my mom told the pediatrician that I was circumcised.
Kanga and Roo from Winnie the Pooh put together makes Kangaroo.
That Bill Nye and Bill Nighy are separate people. Junior year of college.
I learned that the teletubbies are called that way because they have television on their tummies. This was 3 years ago.
I thought 'prima donna' was 'pre-Madonna' and that it referred to a singer who embodied the era before Madonna.
Draught beer is pronounced draft beer. I thought they were two different things.
Not all attention is good attention.
I thougt His Name was Samu El Jackson. I am dumb dumb.
That the ribs my siblings and I ate as kids were not from velociraptors. My dad and mom had always called them velociraptor ribs for some reason and I guess we just figured our dad was so big and awesome that it made sense that he would often go out and kill dinosaurs for us to eat. I don't think I found out until I was in junior high that they were just regular ribs.
I only recently learned that a wolverine is an actual animal.
That my cat didn't go back to the pet store when it was sick. I had even heard all the jokes about pets "going to the farm." Still didn't strike me till waaay too late.
The proper way to say mythology. It was my favorite subject and I talked about it all the time & not one person told me it wasn't MYthology. Found out when my teacher corrected something I read out loud in English class as a senior in HS. I still cringe..
That the numbers on toasters means minutes instead of how burnt do you want your toast
Until I was about 30, I thought 'Broadway' was one theater, since they almost always refer to the entire district collectively, rather than the theater itself.
I learned to ride a bicycle at age 12. To make it even more embarrassing: I'm Dutch
Brussels sprouts don't grow directly on the ground like tiny cabbages.
I thought hooking up meant dating, I was in my 20s when I had already used that term a ton and finally found out what it really meant.
That Martin Luther King Jr. was never president. I found out I was wrong when Obama became president.
I didn’t know narwhals were actually real until almost 30.
I didn’t know that women could get pregnant without experiencing an orgasm... I learned that this year. At age 26. I’m gay and never really considered it. So dumb.
I thought lions and tigers were the same animal all throughout my teenage years — that lions were the boys, and tigers were the girls.
When I was younger, I used to think people only lived until age 40, mostly because my parents got more and more anxious the closer they got to it.
That my mom pronounces bagels as beagles on purpose to mess with me. English is her second language, so I just always assumed that she didn't know the right pronunciation. I was in my late 20's before I realized it. I should've known, it's definitely something she would do.
That you can actually perform maintenance on a lawnmower (i.e. oil changes) and not just buy a new one every few years. I moved a lot growing up and as a result we didn't always hang on to larger appliances so I was like 21 before I learned lawnmowers aren't basically disposable.
Not me, but my mom thought “lol” meant “lots of love” for the longest time.
That the word "couple" does not mean "a little more than few"
That West Virginia was a state. I always assumed it worked like "Southern California / Northern California" and "Texas / West Texas"
I was a sophomore in highschool.
A few years ago in my high school English class, I realized that the word flu was short for influenza.
How many days are in each month.
In my first grade class I proudly stated that my birthday was July 32nd, the last day of the month.
It's only gone downhill from there.
The joke “Why is six afraid of seven?” I was always telling it and then one day when I was 22 I said it and it clicked and I died inside, then started busting up.
I was 16 when I found out that the rearview mirror in a car wasn't actually called a 'review mirror' because you 'reviewed' what was behind you.
How to figure out my age. Before I was trying to remember all my birthdays until I was told I could just do the math.
That Mexico is in north america
I didn't know that lambs were baby sheep until I was in my thirties. I was horrified.
I thought Gwen Stefani’s name was Gwence Defani until I was like 20.
I learned how to swallow pills at 26. Always had a problem trying to gulp 'em down and they just kept swimming around in my mouth. Up until then I always had to mush 'em up and just bear with the bitterness whenever I was sick.
Deja-vu phenomenon is common for all people. Until 19 years old I believed that I am the only one who experiences glimpses of events I have already lived. I realized my mistake when I shared this with my girlfriend and she stared at me, cringey expression on her face, didn't say a word. I was confused so I looked it up the day after and was shocked to see deja-vu is fairly common. I felt embarrassed.
What Ginuwine’s Pony is actually about.
That bambi's mother was killed by the hunter and not just disappeared form his life. I know I heard the shot etc. but as a kid I never put those two things together.
That we have to brush our teeth both morning and night. Took me 14 good years before hearing this
Didnt learn until I was 20.
White meat and dark meat come from the same chicken.
That IHOP is the International House of Pancakes.
I never made the connection that they were the same thing, so until recently I thought the International House of Pancakes was like a hall of fame-type museum restaurant...for pancakes.
The pronunciation of “pronunciation”. Always used to say “pronounciation” until someone called me out on it.
Sweet peppers have three steps: green, yellow and red. Always thought that sweet peppers exist in three different tastes but it is the same species
I thought that Arkansaw and Arkansas were two separate American states. I learned the truth a couple of months ago. I'm 30.
I thought New Zealand was in Europe for a very long time. I found it odd that people who lived so far away from Australia had a similar accent.
I was about 10 when I realized every state doesn't have their own brand of cars. Everyone in my house drove a Chevrolet, so I figured it was the 'state car,' and that maybe Texas had Honda, California had Ford, etc...
Upside down means the up side is down.
That thunder is the sound of lightning far away not clouds crashing into one another. Realised this last year, I'm 30.
My Dad told me that the end of all screwdrivers are magnetic, so you don’t have to hold the screw in place. I could never figure out why the magnets never worked when I tried it. I was in my late twenties before a friend took pity on me.
How to pronounce “albeit”. Until I was 20-something embarrassing, I thought it was “al-beet”.
Didn't learn how to tie a tie until I got my first job in tv at age 25.
It wasn’t until I was 19 that I learned tortilla chips are made out of tortillas
How to spell bologna.
I was picked to read a section of my textbook for the my high school senior class and had a shocking wake up call when I pronounced bologna “bo-log-na”
I used to pronounce Gucci as gussy as in puss* until later when I one day shouted at my friend in public "hey I love your Gucci bag" and she stared at me as if I did not just say that. So that's when I came to know about it, I was 16 at that time.
That there's a difference between an avocado and a squash. Learned that in first year of university.
Took me 26 years to realized i was lactose intolerant