What’s Something You Learned Embarrassingly Late in Life?
Margaret Alper wins the swimming event at the National Senior Sports Classic in Syracuse, New York State, USA, 1st July 1991. (Photo by Barbara Alper/Getty Images)

In December, I was battling my third virus in as many months when I discovered blowing my nose. I’d been congested for two straight weeks and the phlegm wasn’t moving despite me mainlining Advil Cold & Sinus. So I blew. And it worked! Like a no-fail paleolithic decongestant I didn’t know existed. When I was incredulous, baffled even, I immediately understood that I should be embarrassed for feeling so.

“I’d always thought of nose-blowing as sort of optional, a response to a tickle maybe,” I announced to the office (bravely, IMO). “I didn’t realize it was my responsibility to expel the phlegm by blowing it out, I thought it just disappeared after a while.” Everyone laughed at me and asked if I was serious.

I texted my mom immediately in search of answers. How did she not teach me this? I asked. She told me I was being ridiculous and that I should look elsewhere (like inward) if I needed someone on which to pin the blame. I texted my siblings, who said I was on my own. I told my roommates, who said I was nuts. Well, shit.

I’ll say it first: 27 feels old to learn how to blow one’s nose. A mother holding a tissue to a toddler’s face and tenderly suggesting they blow feels more appropriate. But sometimes these things just slip through the cracks. I also thought the word eyebrow was pronounced and spelled “eyebral” for the first 10 years of my life. I couldn’t make these up (nor defend them).

As consolation, Leandra told me she didn’t know how to put a tampon in until she was 17, which I found endearing (and unfortunate). Harling told me her mom thought the Heimlich maneuver was called the Heimlich remover until she was 50, which seems reasonable, no? Jasmin thought cuff links were called “cufflings” until she was 15, which I find very cute. (Cuffling season!) And Amelia learned to ride a bike when she was 16, which I want to point out is a full decade after she learned to ride a horse, so you know where her priorities lie.

So, join us and give it up: What did you learn embarrassingly late in life?

Photo for Evening Standard via Getty Images.

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  • EP

    In college I thought I was losing my mind because Word kept saying tenna shoes was spelled incorrectly. After some confused googling, I called my mom incensed, at which point, she explained “tenna” is actually simply tennis.

    • Vanessa

      I still call mine “tenny shoes,” to which my boyfriend always asks for clarification on what “tenny” is.
      My other thing is learning that Green Bay (of Green Bay Packers) is in Wisconsin and not in Florida by the Gulf of Mexico. Growing up in an area without a large body of water nearby I thought stuff like that only existed by oceans. Btw, I learned this after living in Chicago for three years.

    • Haley Nahman

      east coast people always laugh at me for calling sneakers “tennis shoes” which actually kind of makes sense. it’s an insane colloquialism but kind of cute?

      • Lily

        I DO THIS TOO!!! I thought that every type of athletic shoe was just a “tennis shoe” for the LONGEST time and was astounded to learn that tennis shoes are just for tennis etc. My life was changed.

        • rachel


      • Jolie

        My bf’s first language is Spanish and he calls all sneakers “tennis” because sneakers is “tenis” in Spanish. So he’ll say “Should I wear my black tennis today?” and it gets me every time. I won’t even correct him because I love it so much.

        • Luarnaiz

          I am Mexican, we always do this. Until recently I understood that is not the correct way. And I’ve learned english since I’m in preschool.

    • Krista Anna Lewis

      *~Fun fact~* “tennis” is a made up word coming from the french “tenez” which they would yell out before hitting or something like that.

  • Aliki F

    I also learnt how to use a tampon quite late – I was probably 20 or 21…but the thing that really took me many years to learn is how to apply blush on my cheeks without looking like having undergone extensive solarium!!


    • Emma


    • Krista Anna Lewis

      I still don’t know.

  • Jackie Homan

    Until last year I thought that “wind chill” (like when you are talking about the weather) was pronounced and spelled “windshield” AND my dad is a meteorologist who talked about the temperature and the wind chill almost every day growing up, which I feel like makes it a lot worse

  • Cathy Miller

    When the Internet was making its debut, it was often called “the information highway”. I asked my roommate if our state was planning on building new roads to accommodate this new highway. I was 30.

    • _lauristia


  • Gina Fuchs

    I’m left handed, never was given left handed scissors growing up and so I still don’t know how to use them. I use right handed scissors + I cut backwards (i.e. cut towards myself)! Has been plaguing me forever, I avoid using scissors in front of people as often as possible. UGH.

    • estheresther


    • Elinor

      I’m the exact same…still

    • Krista Anna Lewis

      This makes me concerned for your safety.

    • i’m right-handed but have always cut everything holding right-handed scissors in my left hand? not sure why no one ever corrected me

    • rachel

      I don’t know how to use them either! I just jam my left hand in right handed scisors and make it work.

      On what I am sure is a totally unrelated note, I don’t know how to cut straight lines.

  • Danielle R

    How to properly pronounce Yosemite. Found out a month ago and still upset :/

    • Jackie Homan

      ok actually same, found out a few months ago

      • Haley Nahman

        what did you guys say?! yosa-mite?!

        • Jackie Homan


    • Teresa

      Don’t be upset! It just means you “learned” how to pronounce it by reading, which is NEVER a bad thing!

    • Pamela Bruno

      Wait. How are you supposed to pronounce that?

      • BuffyAnneSummers97


  • Pequody

    When I was young I thought that there was a theater called Nearyou- like “Coming Soon to a Theater Near You!”. I assumed there was one theater that was always showing the latest stuff and I would beg my mother to take me to Theater Nearyou, but she would just laugh.

    • _lauristia

      OMG! I laughed so hard! hahahahahahaha

    • Hilary

      Related: I thought that “Glenn Close” was a type of way to shoot movies – like, “In Panovision” “In Glenn Close” – until years after 101 Dalmatians. What????

      • Haley Nahman

        Keep your glenn’s close and your glennemies closer!!!

        • Hilary

          Haley I’m lol’ing so hard thank u

        • Spandangle

          Glennemies shouod be added to the dictionairy this year.

  • Jamie Leland

    I didn’t know Easter was about Jesus until I was in my later elementary school years. In my defense, I was raised in a secular household.

  • How to take a mirror selfie, duh!

  • tmm16

    My boss taught me last week how to properly fold the top of a coffee bag. I had no idea air affected the way it tasted. The more ya know.

  • jess

    I feel like I’ve got a zinger here – until i was 11, I thought a woman had a penis. #growingupcatholic

    • Haley Nahman

      lolol u indeed have a zinger

  • _lauristia

    When I was a child I couldn’t belive kisses in movies I wanted to believe actress and actors wore a special lipstick during their job because you know bare lips is just for your real SO.

    • Omg me too, when I was little I actually thought actors never really KISSED in movies and then during editing process their faces would be brought closer together !!! ~* like whaaaaat? i can’t even *~ !!! so that it SEEMS like they do !!

  • Emma

    my friend (18) is the same with the tampons! maybe its quite common… the first and only time she tried using one she almost fainted…..that being said she has also had a lot of sexual interactions so im telling her that if she just tries it again it will probably work! not that im forcing her, its just that i really liked it more than pads so she might too (although NOW im using a cup and as you all already have heard: ITS THE BEST)

    • Emma

      no need to worry about me writing about her sex life online haha! she really is the samantha of my life in every good aspect! (why i love her!) <3

  • This may only be found weird to those who live in Massachusetts but like last year I found out that Cambridge and Somerville were not part of Boston and actually their own cities.

    • kay

      aaaaa that means i never lived in boston!! dammit

  • kay

    still don’t really know how to use a dinner knife- i refused to eat meat as a kid, and i guess my vegetables were always bite sized, and i still dont eat meat but my vegetables aren’t necessarily bite sized anymore and i have learned it’s impolite to cut with your fork. so i do my best with my knife but it’s usually loud and half the time i drop something.

    • Krista Anna Lewis

      I felt the same, but the “European” method is way easier for me. You have to switch which hand is holding the knife and fork, and rotate your fork from scooping position to stab position, and boy oh boy is it easier.

      • Krista Anna Lewis

        And bonus point you feel fancy

      • snakehissken

        Wait I thought this is how everyone did it… when they can’t get away with using a fork side, at least…

        • BuffyAnneSummers97

          Yeah I just heard the other day that Americans do it differently. It seems wild (barbaric???)

  • Caroline

    My friends mom always cut his grapefruits in the morning before he went to the kitchen so he thought they came like that. He threw out a lot of grapefruits freshman year of college before I asked why he was never eatting them.

  • Samantha Lee

    OMG, I didn’t learn how to use a tampon until I was almost 19 years old (which is even sadder). TBH, I was scared to stick it up there. Obvs, a magical world opened up for me when I finally did – I mean, HOW DID I WEAR A DIAPER FOR 6 YEARS?!
    It wasn’t until a couple years ago I learned that you’re supposed to punch in the sides of saran wrap boxes, so they hold the roll in place when you pull out the wrap. I feel like I can’t be alone in this one.

    • Lyla

      o_O I had no idea about saran wrap

    • dietcokehead

      I think I sort of knew this once and you just reminded me that I forgot it for the entirety of my adulthood so far holy moly

    • Tess

      Similar to you and Leandra, I didn’t put in my first tampon until 18. But not for lack of effort, I had acute vaginismus (not a venereal disease, just a really tight vag) and I thought I was simply incompetent before I got medical help.

    • Andrea Raymer

      I think i was a senior in high school when i started using tampons. i finally sat down with the instructions and figured it out one day.

      right now though i am team Thinx.

      • shoeholic

        Again— immigrant issues— I learned how to use them in college, but never actually used them until after college. I think I was 22?

    • Ann P

      Just went and checked out my saran wrap box. Huh, would you look at that. And here I was thinking I’ve kind of got this adulting thing down. I’m 44. *sigh*

    • Natty


    • Anne

      You are definitely not alone. I didn’t know how to use a tampon until a lady from planned parenthood explained it to me. I was about the same age as yours.

  • Audrey

    I learned just last year (at age 23) that ponies are a separate species and not just an alternative name for a small/young horse #mybad

    • Teresa


      • Haley Nahman


    • Olivia!

      I learned that just now by reading your comment.

      • Krista Anna Lewis


    • Pamela Bruno

      I learned that when I was like 13 and it was so confusing haha

    • Miss J

      And I just learned that now. Thanks.

    • Anna Fiore

      Same. Lil’ Sebastian from Parks and Rec really confused things for me.

    • TrueBaconJr


  • Natalie

    Until I was about 20 I thought that a ‘hide-a-bed’ was called a Haida Bed. To make it more confusing, “Haida” is the name of an indigenous people in the area I was raised, so I just assumed the term had been appropriated or something.

    • Haley Nahman

      so good!!!

  • Abby

    My husband told me just last week that I’ve been pronouncing several words incorrectly my entire life, including epitome. I actually can’t remember what the other two words were and have been walking around questioning my own pronunciation of words ever since.

    • Haley Nahman

      I hope you said epi-tome

    • rachel

      Did you read a lot as a kid? I used to have a lot of issues where I’d only read words and never heard them, so I came up with my own pronunciations. I thought the word sobriety was pronounced “so-bear-ity” until I was 14!

      • Ashley

        I feel you on this! I thought Hermione from Harry Potter was Hermee-oh-knee until the films came out.
        I also found out when I was 26 that the things that grow out of a deer’s head are in fact antlers and NOT ‘anklers’ as I had said for my whole life. Not exactly a word that gets used on a daily basis but turned my world upside down all the same.

      • Anne

        Yes! There is a quote from someone on Twitter a few years back that says, “People who mispronounce words they’ve only ever read should be lauded, not scorned” and I am in FULL agreement. Her name escapes me, but I have the tweet blown up in my classroom (English teacher here).

      • BuffyAnneSummers97

        I am so glad I never said the word ‘tangential’ in front of anyone before I heard it on the radio the other day, because I would have got some shit about what ‘tanned genitals’ had to do with the conversation…

        • rachel

          I truly cannot stop giggling– thank you!

    • Spandangle

      That’s my own personal nightmare. My mum gives me shit for saying laaaaangth when I mean length and now I can’t say that word out loud anymore.

  • Bridget

    At 16, I learned that banana nut muffins have chopped walnuts on them and banana nuts do not, in fact, exist.

  • Jourdan

    You know in movies how they show a character as a child in a flashback? I legitimately thought they filmed the actor when they were a child, waited like twenty years, and then resumed filming when the child had grown up. It took a LONG time to realize how editing and casting worked.

    • Haley Nahman


    • Krista Anna Lewis

      Haley and I are literally lolling

    • Lauren K

      omg this is so me. I also thought that makeover scenes were legit. I remember asking my mom, while watching the princess diaries, “so now she gets to be beautiful FOREVER????”

    • Anne

      This reminds me the time when I loved Disney Channel. I remember the day I binge viewed “Lizzie McGuire” then watched “Cadet Kelly” thinking of how tired she must be from acting all day long. Neither did I know how it all works.

  • Devon Cansada Wade

    For most of my childhood I pronounced ‘backyard’ as ‘backy-ard’ (hello! being raised in the sorta-south). I always wondered why front yard was front yard but ‘backy-ard’ was different. It probably didn’t help that I spent a lot of time with my grandfather who was from the deep, deep south.

    • Haley Nahman

      literal lol

  • Rachael

    Back in the middle school AIM days, when I signed on for the first time, I asked a friend “who was online?” and she told me, “No1.” Who i promptly added to my buddies list.I thought No1 was somebody’s screen name!

  • chunny

    In second grade, before I had real typing skills, a friend told me her email was “abby_dogs@hotmail” and I typed it out “abbyunderscoredogs@hotmail” because I didn’t know what an underscore was. Needless to say, without real typing skills, this took a bit of time to type out.

    • Haley Nahman

      You were ironic before it was cool!!

  • Taylor Belmer

    I’m 24. I just learned the physics and fundamentals of cutting with a fork and knife rather than hack-sawing food with the side of my fork. I feel more elegant. I haven’t foregone the fork method though. Stick to your roots. Haha.

    • snakehissken

      Listen when you’re home using the side of the fork saves you washing a utensil, those seconds add up

  • Kelly

    I literally thought “elbow grease” was a product you could purchase in a store but I never saw on shelves (maybe it was constantly out of stock because it was so effective and so high in demand!). When I was 22 and living with a clean freak roommate, he asked me to help him scrape off a price tag on a bench he bought. I gave up halfway through and he encouraged me to continue trying and use some “elbow grease”. When I asked him where he kept it in the apartment he shot me one of those looks like, “How are you alive? You could never make it in the wild.” Needless to say, at age 29, I still have never used elbow grease.

    • Natt

      Lush have a product called elbow grease, so you weren’t wrong!

    • Lucero

      Wait, same!

    • Roxana

      OMG. Dying.

  • Rebecca

    confession here: 26 years old and still don’t know how to use a tampon. I just enjoy a good comfy pad.

    • Ellie

      Changed at 20 and seriously never thought I would but omg girl you need to your life will become so much easier

      • Haley Nahman


      • fortinbras

        I don’t know, it’s easy enough with pads. I don’t have a heavy period though so it’s not really a hassle for me.

        • Mariana

          same, i only use tampons in summer for beach.

          • Yea, I feel so effortless when I use them when participating in water-related activities but I’m terrified of TSS

    • Tess

      Absolutely nothing wrong with preferring pads, but if you’re not using tampons because you can’t/they’re painful you might want to talk to a gyno. I suggest this because I couldn’t for years and felt horrible about it, but learned it wasn’t my fault — my vagina was just too tight (vaginismus). I got help. I’m fairly vocal because if I knew someone else I could have gotten help sooner, and felt less isolated.

    • xtine

      42 years old here and still never figured them out. I think I successfully did it a couple of times in college but, when I did, my uterus responded with nuclear cramps so I said F that.

      Mirena IUD forever!

  • Kelly Spicer

    I thought the word gesture was said “guess-ture” instead of “jes-ture” until a professor corrected me in college.

    And yes, I still stumbled over which was the right version as I typed that.

    • i used to love the game “guesstures!” wow I haven’t thought about that in a while

  • Abigail Larson

    Well, I believed up until LAST YEAR (WHEN I WAS 24) that islands floated so I just smoked all y’all.

    Guess I should have taken geography instead of film in high school.

    • Haley Nahman

      Okay I misread this as “learned that islands floated” and I was like OMG WHAT

    • Andrea Raymer

      You arent alone in this. I watched a video last week of a congressman expressing his concerns in a meeting that if they stationed too many military families in Guam it would tip over and capsize.


  • David Saldarriaga Ochoa

    Because of my daltonism I just learn that a pair of brown shoes that I really are actually Grey. And I’ve got them since 3 years ago. I don’t throw them out because they were a birthday gift from my mom.

  • AC

    I didn’t know it snowed in Japan until I was 27. I watched the Nagano Olympics when I was 12…

  • I didn’t know how to boil water until I was around 12. My mom always cooked and made tea so I never had to boil it myself. Once I was home alone and wanted to make myself some instant noodles but I wasn’t sure how to use the kettle. So I called her to ask, and she started laughing at me even though she’s the one that never taught me 🙁

    • Jolie

      I still don’t know how to boil water and have never done it. It’s getting more pathetic as I get older, haha!

      • It’s actually really easy! You just open the kettle, pour cold water in, close it, and then hit the boil switch/button on your kettle. Unless you have an old kettle, then you have to put it on the stove.

    • Tess

      About a year ago, my brother who was 19 at the time, asked me how to cut a bagel. My mom pretty much always makes his food. I was like, what do you mean? You just cut it…

  • Andrea

    At 26 I realized that the “Santa” in the song Mommy Kissing Santa Claus is the DAD DRESSED UP AS SANTA! I thought she was actually kissing Santa and was kind of concerned that no one thought this was cheating or inappropriate. I nearly drove off the road when I heard it on the radio and it all became clear.

    • Haley Nahman

      Wait me too?

      • Andrea


        • Jo

          Only just found out this Christmas – 33 years old…Though I was told by a 53 year old who had just figured it out!!

    • Jolie


      • Andrea

        This makes me feel so much better!!!

    • rachel

      Yeah I just realized that this Christmas (at 25). I wouldn’t feel too bad about it though, I found out because a friend of mine was telling me that he had just realized it (at 27).

      • Andrea


    • Andrea Raymer

      I literally figured this out yesterday while watching a youtube video of parents telling their kids that santa isnt real and one of them referenced that song!

    • BuffyAnneSummers97

      OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH I get it now

    • Wtfuguys

      Omg. Wait. I thought this too until just now! Mind blown wtf

    • Alex R Florence

      yes, isn’t that realization the best/worst thing about christmas? Now think about this Jackson 5 version. Did lil Michael know that Santa did/did not exist? So amazing on so many levels. Best song of the season!

  • Becca

    I thought (actually I only thought this because of my mother’s sheltering me as a child) that the ice cream man was just a MUSIC TRUCK until I was like 11.

    • Jolie


  • When I was 22, I learned that the xing signs on the road meant cross-ing rather than a mystical “zzzzz-ing” !!!!!!

  • Alex S

    My brother and I pronounced it “arts and craps” until maybe age 12. My parents never bothered to correct us.

    • kay

      AHAHAHAHzhahahahahaha dying!!!!!!!! omg I’m telling all children this forever for the rest of time

  • Abi Newhouse Vaughn

    This is horrible, but a couple years ago I realized that Egypt has big cities too. I just pictured the pyramids and desert.

  • snakehissken

    To understand how this happened, you need to know that my dad is a college professor and we moved pretty frequently for his job when I was little.

    Until I was AT LEAST 10, I thought every single town had its own university. I never understood why kids were going away to college in movies instead of just going to the local school.

    • Miss J

      I thought that until I was like, 18! I always assumed that kids move away to college because a) they were not accepted to the school in their home town, or b) they want something new and different, and/or get away from their parents.

    • Hayls

      I thought until I was like 12 that kids who grew in a city without a college just didn’t go to college… and it made me really sad that there were entire towns of people without any college education!

  • Adeline

    I thought hair commercials with beautiful people swishing their glossy locks in slow motion were filmed underwater until I was 11 YEARS OLD. Always wondered why there were no bubbles coming out of their mouths

  • Jolie

    Oh god I feel like I have so many of these, but the one coming to mind rn is that when I moved out on my own at 18, I started eating bagels with cream cheese at least once per day (sometimes more) and then was baffled as hell when I rapidly gained weight. My roommate told me that bagels had “carbs,” as did pasta and bread (both of which I’d also been eating copious amounts of on my new Freedom Diet), and that I shouldn’t be eating bagels everyday if I didn’t want to gain a lot of weight. That was the very moment that life broke me.

  • Pamela Bruno

    I moved to New York last year to go to school (first time living in an English speaking country). After 6 months of saying the word ‘focus’ almost on a daily basis (we use the word focus a lot in acting school I guess haha), one of my classmates told me she loved how I pronounced ‘fuck-us’ instead of focus. So embarrassing 🙈

    • _lauristia


  • Hanna Kubis

    My mom would always box dye her hair when I was younger, and I would always start crying because I thought that she would end up looking like the women on the box (face n’ all)

  • Jelena

    I’m 23 and still don’t know how to put a tampon in…. shit.

  • Nathalie

    I’m 22 and I still don’t have a driver’s license — and no plans of getting one anytime soon (I always use public transport and travel a lot, too). One day maybe!

    • Morgane

      Didn’t get mine until I was 27 (2 years ago), and my boyfriend just got his (he’s 30). I admit it was just pure laziness from my part but I was totally fine without it! Full disclosure: we live in a dense, very bikeable European city where having a car is just ridiculous because parking space is basically non-existent. I’m a member of this car sharing service now so I do have access to cars when I need to get out of town and no public transport is available.

  • Emily

    I thought invisible force fields were real until probably high school. They were just really expensive to make so there wasn’t one near me. Also, it wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized the Burger King sign was supposed to look like a burger.

  • Miss J

    I was 17 when I found out that unicorns don’t exist. I always assumed that they live in New Zealand, or Jutland. When I told my friends they thought I was making it up. I also thought until a late age (circa 16) that reindeer aren’t real, since their fictive daddy and caretaker isn’t real either. Then I watched a Danish cooking program where they made reindeer dumplings, and I was like, wait, WTF?

    • Vanessa

      Me too! I only learned that reindeer are real two months ago at a Christmas tree farm!

  • Charlotte Dallin

    I always thought a hamburger was a “handburger” (because you eat it with your hands.)

  • Nicole

    17, late for tampons? I’m 19 here hahaha and though I don’t feel *old* per se, I do feel a little stupid for not being able to just figure the damn thing out 🙁

    • Nowadays, I simply google anything I don’t know – which would be a lot of things only my google history knows about 🙂

  • Emily

    My mum thought that eavesdropping was “ears dropping” until we had to clear that up for her when she was well into her forties. It’s adorable and actually makes a lot of sense?

  • Lola

    When I was a kid, my parents told me that when the ice cream truck plays a tune, it means they have sold out of ice cream. I lived my childhood in perpetual confusion at how often ice cream sellers underestimated the amount of ice cream they needed. Wasn’t until I unleashed my knowledge on my little mates aged about 11 that I realised I had been duped. My parents still laugh at their genius.

  • Mariana

    When I was 5, I used to put my ear near the belly button of my mom to try to hear my brother. One day my mom did some noises with her mouth and told me that it was my brother communicating with me and, in excitement, I totally believed it! When I was maybe 10 or 11 we were at home one time and my mother “Do you remember that time when I did that sound and you thought that your brother was talking to you? So Cute!” I was..”Wait..What?!?”
    To “compensate” at the same age, 5 years old, I discovered how women give birth because I found a book in our home office that was REALLY graphic (a woman with open legs and a head coming out of her vajayjay graphic) and I told my mother that “I don’t really wanna have kids because it really hurts!”

  • it wasn’t until we got married that my husband learned, from me, that it is “chest of drawers” not chester drawers. I also got to teach him that we say “nip it in the bud” not “nip it in the butt”

    • I think you shouldn’t have told him about the bud … 😉

    • A Local Honey

      don’t forget about the stitch in the back pleat! I see grown men walking around with their stitch in place and I just want to mommy them. “C’mere honeybuns…let mama just snip that for you…all set, big guy!”

  • SO

    Up until about aged 15, I thought the sky was a different colour in every country!
    Blue in England, Yellow in Nigeria…
    The sky always looked yellow in Nollywood (Nigerian) films so I just assumed…

  • Rebecca Sandell

    My Mum and Grandma always called basset hounds Rosie dogs. I thought it was a colloquial name that everyone used. When I was about 16 I said to my friend ‘look at that cute Rosie dog’ and she looked at me as if to say what the actual f**k and explained to me that no one else calls them Rosie dogs. When I told my mum that she was wrong she found it hilarious; it turns out that she had know a basset hound called Rosie when she was a child. As I’m getting older (23) I’m realising that so many of my mum’s expressions are unique to her and no one knows what I’m talking about when I use them. When my boyfriend st the time pointed this out to me, I tried to pass it off as a regional thing. To which he replied, ‘No, you’re mum is just crazy’. He was probably right.

  • Nat Ch

    I’m laughing so much at everything! (article and comments). I learnt how and where to apply blush (!) last year, at 26.

  • Natt

    I thought Europe was a country til I was 14… you can currently find me in the beautiful country of Europe hanging my head in shame

  • Becky

    I’m 24 – just learned last year that shrimp are not naturally pink. When you see them live or raw, most are actually gray! I somehow never thought of that…

  • Lady_A

    At 25, I learned that exits in the highway were numbered in correlation to the km they were in.

  • 25 and legitimately cannot use a can opener. I have broken every one I have owned. In college I would have to sneak away to replace my roommates’ can openers, which I also broke.

    Maybe 2017 is the year I’ll figure it out!

  • A Local Honey

    I thought weed was as dangerous as crack/heroin/et.al. until I was in my mid-twenties.

  • Angela

    I only realized like last year that the show “The Biggest Loser” wasn’t just making fun of its contestants – I always thought the name of the show was insanely mean until one day it clicked that it was the biggest loser… of pounds…

  • I read a majority of these comments last night in bed and was truly LOLing.

  • Lauren Ann Long

    I thought “Gun Point” was a town where people seemed to always get killed. I said to my mom one day watching the news, “I don’t know why anyone would ever want to live in Gun Point.” – I was 19.

  • Kelly Spicer

    I thought Alaska was an island until I was 18…it was always separated on maps of the United States like Hawaii so I thought naturally it had to be an island.

  • Lieryn Johnson

    It wasn’t until *after* college I realized that it’s “lactose intolerant” not lactose and tolerant. 🙄

  • Eun Jung Cha

    I’ve been washing my laundry with fabric softener for three years… It just smelled nice

    • M Rae

      ugh, I would pre-treat AND wash with fabric softener and my clothes would come out with blue stains on top of the older, real-er stains. the shame.

  • ella

    I didn’t learn how to tie my shoes until I was 10… those velcro-strapped sneakers tho.

  • Madeline

    A couple of months ago, I discovered that narwhals are ACTUALLY REAL. Before that, I always thought they were mythical creatures in the same realm as unicorns.

    • Lindsey

      OMG, WHAT?!

      • Madeline


    • Carolina

      They are not???

  • ellamarilla

    Thought drunk tank was literal tank of water they submerged you in and the booze left your body via reverse osmosis or something.

    • kay

      this makes complete sense. also explains why drunk people in old movies always get dunked in ye olde horse trough by their best friends

    • rachel

      Oh man I need to stop reading this thread in the library, you guys are hilarious and I am not a good laugh suppressor

      • Caryn F.

        Don’t feel too bad, I’m reading this from the reference desk!

  • Annamarie Morris

    I didn’t learn how to ride a bike until I was 20 so looks like I have Amelia beat! Somehow my dad missed the memo on teaching me and my brothers that one (and our house happened to be at the top of a hill that went down into busy two-way traffic).

  • Julie Phan

    Only in the later years of high school did I learn that pedestrian was NOT synonymous with person of colour. I was always very keen on not saying “beware of pedestrians” because I thought it was inappropriate and offensive…

  • Amanda Orlando

    My mom always told me that I was allergic to Frosted Flakes and Pop Tarts (I have a lot of allergies) so I went for nearly my whole life without eating either. Then when I was almost 20 I decided to randomly read the ingredients of Strawberry Pop Tarts and realized they didn’t contain any of the allergens I avoid. I went on a Pop Tart bender and ate about 15 in one weekend. It was bliss.

  • Where my cervix is! 26.

  • Erica

    At 16 I learned that you’re kinda really supposed to shave the BACK of your legs too, not just the front…….

  • Emy M

    This is a great prompt. At 30, my fiancé just taught me how properly use a fork and knife. Fork in left hand, knife in dominant right hand. Prior to this, I was of the lazy “shovel it in with fork in the right hand” variety. I feel so empowered and graceful now, that I can’t help but lean over to my friends at dinner and tell them: Can I tell you a secret? I just learned to properly use my fork and knife, and it feels amazing!

  • Calli

    I still don’t know how to tie my shoes with the “loop-swoop-pull” method. My husband still makes fun of me for my bunny ear method.

    • BuffyAnneSummers97

      Do you have trouble reading maps and have to really think about left and right too? You might have mild dyspraxia. I was the same. My dad would get so angry with me when I couldn’t understand how to tie my laces after the fiftieth demo!

  • giftofthefab

    Hmmm….where to begin. Let’s see…Until I was twenty, I thought the Caisse Populaire downtown was a French nightclub (it’s French for “bank”). Also, until was twenty, I honestly thought you could see Japan from Tofino Beach, British Columbia Canada. Seriously, look at it on the map – totally feasible. You are likely wondering where the hell I grew up.

  • Olivia

    Sigh. I didn’t know Alaska was connected to Canada until I was 25. I grew up in California. When we looked at a map of the United States, there would be Alaska in a box to the side and Hawaii on a box to the side. The teacher would say something like “But of course Alaska isn’t next to Hawaii, its further north.” But NO ONE ever clarified “AND IT’S ALSO NOT AN ISLAND.”

  • Diana Fox

    Growing up when my mom said she wanted to go on a diet, I somehow thought it meant going to a place similar to a movie theater, and just sitting for a long time.

  • Han

    I legitmently thought sex was kissing naked until I was 15 years old. High school health class was a rude awakening.

  • Rheanonn Clarissa Perez

    22 & i still don’t blow my nose or ride a bike. when i try to blow my nose nothing comes out ……… i think i’m doing it wrong lmao

    • Rheanonn Clarissa Perez

      when i was in 15 i learned that they did not, in fact, take “gullible” out of the dictionary -_-

  • Coco

    I am 32 and STILL do not know how to drive a car. I am a married woman and keep asking my husband to teach me but I am secretly terrified and fine with it. But on the other hand, I feel like a 15 year old who just wants to be able to break free once in a while and hit the ol’ road.

    • linzarg

      I learned to drive at 34! I was trying to think of what to add to this but the driving thing never occurred to me until I read your comment. The terror wears off pretty quickly.

  • Roxana

    This is absolutely hilarious!

    I have a newborn right now (and a 5 year old and 3 year old) and am too sleep-deprived/brain dead to think of all the things I learned this morning (I’m 38), but in the meantime, I needed these laughs. Again, absolutely hilarious. Thank you for this!

  • Elizabeth

    For longer than I can admit, I thought a “Porta-Potty” was called “Porter-Potty'” This all was due to the fact that one of my best friends growing up is named Porter and when I was around 4 years old, I came home from school telling my mom all about this Porter Potty at school. She thought I was saying “Porter’s Party” for the longest time – and didn’t realize I was referencing an outdoor toilet until about a week later. Two things: she will not let me live this down and yes, Porter and I are still friends.

  • YasQueen

    A couple of years ago my husband proudly told me that he knew where and when the first Walgreens opened after seeing an old fashioned picture of a pharmacy. He told me that it opened in “Circa”, California in 1925. He didn’t know what circa meant until I told him that it’s not a place in California where a lot of things happened and businesses started. Not sure why he thought it was in California…

  • Iolanthe

    I couldn’t read an analog clock until my early teens. Also, I never watched much TV growing up, and I still don’t understand how to use a remote control…I’m 24.

  • Underpants…under…pants….

  • KB

    I have only recently learned at the tender age of 33 that the “cat milk” I get from the pet shop for my kitten isn’t actually milked from a production line of mother cats, but is just lactose free cows milk.

  • Kelsey

    You know how in movies when people are outside at night, they’ll pan to a shot of the stars and there will be crickets chirping in the background?
    Because of this, I thought the sound of crickets was the sound the stars made until well into adolescence.

  • Maryam Ele

    I too learned how to manoeuvre a horse before a bike! Dad didn’t teach me how to cycle till I hit the ripe age of 18!

  • Maryam Ele

    Also 20 years old and still don’t know how to use a tampon. How-to, anyone?

  • Autumn

    Up until middle school I thought when you heard a song on the radio, that band was playing it live in the radio station. Because that’s a logical thing that would happen.

    • Haley Nahman

      I TOTALLY THOUGHT THAT TOO! I remember loving this one song where the girl’s voice sounded hoarse, and I was always scared her voice would get better and would start sounding different. Insane.

  • BK

    Following a childhood swimming kerfuffle (read: near-drowning incident) I am a shit swimmer, which is embarrassing because I live in Australia with the best beaches in the world. I need to learn properly in case I ever work for FedEx, get called in to go on a charter flight just before Christmas, and the plane goes down in the stormy seas and I am cast away on an island for like five years or however long Tom Hanks was there. I feel swimming would come in handy then

  • meelaynuh .

    I grew up in a big Italian family where pasta was constantly being cooked, and was the first thing I learned to cook on my own. I learned at 20 that a pasta scoop (with the ridges and hole in the middle) isn’t in fact called a “turkeyfoot,” but that was just my uncle’s nickname for it- that everyone in the family used. definitely still calling it a turkeyfoot though.

  • M.D.

    I was 12 when I had my first period. I thought something was wrong with me and I’m going to die soon because the blood wouldn’t stop. I used up a whole box of bandage. I cried for days. I finally told me mom. She helped me in the bathroom and explained everything.

  • shoeholic

    True story: a first generation American, I didn’t learn to speak English fluently till I was probably in first or second grade. I could speak it, but just not confidentially.
    That being said, growing up all my neighbors used to sit on their front porch with their parents/grandparents and play checkers. I used to watch (trying to be James Bond smooth) from my window trying to comprehend and teach myself the rules. By the time I was confident enough to speak English, no one wanted to play checkers let alone teach me the official rules.
    The above being said, I learned to play checkers when I was 32; im hoping I’ll be able to play chess by the time I’m maybe 52? 😉

  • courtforce

    last year on a solo road trip (age 25) i stopped in a subway, the only restaurant around for miles. when i got inside i realized for the first time, rather loudly, “omg i just got that subway is called that because you sell SUBS.” i think they practically offered me a position in management on the spot.

  • Miranda Renée Horton

    I am a transgender woman so I learned so many things later in life that I should have that I could make a huge list. My whole life has been one embarrassingly late lesson. A sample–I learned how to braid my hair at 40.

  • Anna Julia

    At 19 I learned that no, I was not supposed to just be “picking up” on Dothraki while watching Game of Thrones but that I had just downloaded all seasons WITHOUT subtitles. Took me two seasons and for me to watch it with someone and have them point it out to me.

  • Anna

    I know I am coming in on this conversation super late, but I have two great ones for you all, both involving my boyfriend. He is 23 and only just learned that “sleep apnea” is not, in fact, “sleep *nap*ea” as he originally thought. The confusion was borne because his uncle, who had sleep apnea, always took a lot of naps. He was also under the impression that Georgia O’Keeffe was actually a man named George. I didn’t realize this until he was discussing our upcoming trip to Santa Fe with his family, and told them that we were going to the “George O’Keeffe Museum to see all of his paintings.” *smh*

  • Heather Barton

    How to put a condom on/ what it even looked like- age 23. How to use chopsticks properly mid-20s.

  • Sofia Anna Dolina

    I’m 22. I learned to ride a bike month ago.

  • Emily Erickson

    Narwhals exist… in real life (discovered at age 24). I still think this is an outrageously elaborate scam.

  • Carson McCrullers

    Until my boyfriend was 23 (6 years ago), he thought that the “XING” abbreviation on “PEDESTRIAN XING” signs was an actual word that was pronounced “Zing.” I almost never corrected him because I thought it was so adorable.

  • mafer!

    That pineapples don’t grow in trees. Learned that when I was 27.

    I’m 28.

  • Hannah Elizabeth Cooper

    I didn’t know how my weeks there were in a year. My boyfriend was like “how many do you think there are?” I said, ” I dunno, a hundred”…… there are 52.

  • I thought the drum beats were basket ball bouncing sounds that someone recorded before doing the song. My cousin laughed so hard when I told him this.

  • Felicity Sleeman

    oh my god I too only learned how to blow my nose last year at the age of 19. I used to just sniffle when somebody told me to go and blow my nose, then one day in a haze of illness I just decided to blow and was shocked at the results. This is such a relief to read I’m not the only one

  • Alex R Florence

    I’m so happy to be 29 and still learning to be me. Everyday a new challenge. I am definitely an introvert- best weekends spent at home with arts and crafts and hubby – but work as an RN and spend my days expending energy socializing…this can be draining.
    Overall, I’m learning about me and what I need post work – ME time, focusing on what I need, bathtime, reading, learning to say no when I want to be at home on Friday nights. Maybe I’m blooming late, but it feels so right.

  • Eleonora Rossi

    Well, my parents use homeopathy a lot, so when I was a kid they only gave me allopathic medicines when I had something very serious. Growing up, I started thinking homeopathy was bs, and as I went to live on my own and abroad, I decided I might as well not use ANY medicine at all. And save a bunch of money. Let’s just say the flu didn’t go away on its own, it rather got really worse and I had hallucinations, until my neighbor finally got me some paracetamol. Now I always have a purse with medicines on it in my suitcase.

  • viv

    I was 20 years old when j found out reindeers were real. I had put them in the “make believe” pile with Santa – alas, they are real animals!

  • Sarah

    Just now learning about “cuff links” not being “cufflings“..

  • Sarah Quartuccio

    After learning about Santa, I assumed that reindeer were also not real. I didn’t learn that they were real animals until I was about 18 when someone was talking about Christmas and reindeer and I said with great conviction “well they’re not real” and everyone looked at me like I was completely insane.

    • Caryn F.

      Same! To be fair, I’m Jewish and grew up in a fairly religious household where I was told from an early age that “all that Christmas stuff is made up”… So…

  • Emma Glennon

    Until a few weeks ago, I thought lululemon was pronounced ‘lou le mon’ for reasons I cannot explain.

    • It’s lulu-lemon, right? I pronounced it lu-lu-lah-mohn. I read that the brand chose a name with three ‘L’s’ in it so it would sound North American and appeal to a Japanese market.

  • Lady_A

    A few years back I learned that the exits in the highway were numbered according to the kilometre they are In.

  • Andrea Dilizia

    I’ve always disliked my middle name, but it took me until I was 14 to learn how to properly spell it, and even now in my mid 20’s, I still often mess it up. I was a spelling bee champ throughout elementary school and I was sort of terrified they would make me spell my middle name every year and I would lose.

  • Lars

    A friend’s boyfriend pronounced and spelled the phrase “might as well” as “minds well” and continued to do it even after multiple corrections. He was 24.

  • Bella

    In year 11 at school I did literature which meant reading and studying a lot of poems. I noticed several poems had the author as ‘Anon’ – which I thought was a middle eastern sounding name and an author who like Cher, decided to drop their second name. One day in class I said wow this ‘Anon’ person writes a lot of poems…. everyone has their mouths gaping wide open saying no mate – anon means ‘anonymous’. !!!!!!!!!!! ( In Australia, year 11 means I was 17 years old)

  • Mary

    In college we lived next door to a house that hosted band practice on Sunday nights. They only played one song: a cover of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer”. One day I heard my roommate singing along and I asked her to repeat the lyrics. She thought it went “Hold me close/I’m tired of dancing”

  • Anne

    I lived in several countries growing up, and I didn’t know that number plates change according to the country you are in, even for the same car. Until I asked my father about it and he was amazed about my silliness.

    Also, for those who speak French, I used to hear “papier génique” (toilet paper) instead of “papier hygiénique”. “Génique” reminded me of “gène” (gene). Expectedly enough, I couldn’t see the link between genes and the use of the toilet paper.

  • Brenna

    i didn’t realize the phrase “blind as a bat” referred to the animal and not the baseball stick until about 12. To be fair, baseball sticks can’t see either.

  • Madisyn

    In my junior year health class in high school, the topic of wet dreams came up with my peers. I said, “AH, HATE THOSE! Like, when you have to pee so bad you dream about using the bathroom and wet the bed… The worst!” Well, my gracious classmates quickly explained to me that was NOT what wet dreams are… 🙊