As much as we all love movies and as inspirational as they can be, sometimes we have to remind ourselves of one crucially important, albeit easy to forget, fact—they’re not real.
Despite how magical and wonderful the world looks in the movies, the real thing is seldom the way it appears on the big screen. Unfortunately, real life can be much more mundane, ordinary, and anti-climactic than fiction makes it out to be.
Here are 42 stories, from the relatable to the unique, about people who discovered this first hand.
42. I Hope Your Friend Didn’t Mind…
Losing my virginity.
Where did I actually lose my virginity? In the FRONT seat (not even the back) of a car, parked in our friend’s driveway. No regrets at all, just certainly not a movie moment.
41. If You Want Something Done, You Gotta Do It Yourself
I think one of the biggest problems people have when it comes to dating is expecting something to just happen. It is a real surprise when you realize it ain’t so simple. At least now you know and can work to find someone online or in real life by actively trying to meet more people rather than waiting for some magical moment that falls down from the sky.
40. Rock-a-Bye Baby, On the Tree Top
Having a baby. Expected magic, got lots of pain and blood and sore boobs (and a cute newborn).
Double that all for breastfeeding.
39. Seems Like the Opposite of the Question…
Well, I went to Disney World for a conference right after my marriage ended and I hooked up for the week (and randomly for five years after when I was in FL or she was in LA) with an EPCOT cast member from Morocco. I’m a Disney freak, so I really had just intended to go and enjoy the parks and the escapist experience on my off-time from conferencing. It became my post-marriage sexual awakening and was really pretty important to me at the time. I wasn’t really sure there was life for a 38-year-old single man. There very much is.
38. Do the Bad Guys in Disney Movies Know That They’re the Bad Guys?
Back when I was in high school, some friends and I decided that we were all going to enroll in a fencing class being taught at the local community college. (That’s fencing with swords, for the record, not with planks of wood being erected against nosy neighbors). Being that we were sixteen-year-old dorks with swashbuckling fantasies, it should come as no surprise that we experienced a few rude awakenings, like discovering that our first session would be focused entirely on footwork. Still, we kept at it…and the wait seemed to be worthwhile, because I discovered that I was really good with a foil.
Before I go on, let me clarify that last statement: I was taller and faster than everyone else in the class, which, since we were all using the same basic techniques and strategies, made me think that I was really good with a foil. In truth, I was just a young, fit guy with a longer reach than my competitors. For quite some time, though, I was absolutely convinced that I was the best natural swordsman since Inigo Montoya, showing all the humility and self-awareness of an Instagram model.
I accepted any challenge offered to me, made quite a few of my own, and even bested the course’s instructors whenever we went toe to toe, all the while viewing myself as an underdog on a meteoric rise.
Then, one fateful evening brought a special treat to the class: A fencer who had actually competed in the Olympics showed up to offer his insights, and he was only too happy to cross swords with me.
Everyone circled around us, ready to watch this epic duel…and just before we began, one of the instructors approached the man.
“Wipe the floor with him,” I heard him murmur.
The fencer and I faced each other. The bout began. There was a clash of metal on metal…and I scored the first point.
I couldn’t see his face—it was protected by a mask—but I imagined the former Olympian blinking with surprise.
The second bout started. I scored the second point. Once again, I envisioned a look of surprise.
It was like a moment from an uplifting children’s movie: There I was, the up-and-coming newbie, about to defeat one of the best swordsmen on the planet…and with a perfect score, no less. My fingers tightened on my foil’s grip, and with an evident swagger in my step, I got into position for the final bout. Our blades came up, I lunged forward…
… and I have absolutely no idea how the guy managed to hit me so quickly.
The next two bouts were identical: As soon as I started moving, I felt the tip of a foil against my chest. I might as well have been fighting against someone who could stop and start time at will. Worse still, I couldn’t help but notice that the crowd’s cheers had grown in fervor since my opponent started making his comeback. With a deepening sense of dread and embarrassment, it eventually dawned on me that I had been given those first two points; that I was, in fact, so incredibly bad at fencing that I hadn’t even posed a challenge.
Worst of all, I realized that I had been the arrogant bad guy all along, and that the hero had just defeated me.
37. A Feast Fit for a King
My wedding reception.
Everything didn’t quite go as planned, and we didn’t have an official caterer so we didn’t get any food because no one saved us any.
So we got Taco Bell on the way to our hotel. It was actually awesome, but definitely not a Disney moment.
36. We Wish You the Best of Luck!
Meeting someone. I’ve held out hope for a long time that it would be the sole thing in my life that just happens instead of only happening when I set out to achieve the goal. I thought it would happen naturally, where I would meet someone and I would be so fond of her that I would do all these things to romance her because I wanted to. That I would have a conversation and just know that we should start dating (to be honest, that did happen once, but she told me at the end of the day that she had a boyfriend).
Five years of being single later, I’m just about ready to finally discard this notion as naïveté and start slogging through the soul-crushing, numbers-game of online dating.
35. School Days
I thought my high school was going to be more like a teen movie kind of scene where I meet different people and I have a great time.
Nope. Every teenager is a psychopath and a jerk. The outsiders? They’re even bigger jerks, except they’re more adult about it.
34. Our Friendship Will Never Die?
I expected some friends and me to feel like part of a group when I grew up.
33. The Only Miracle Worker in Your Life is Yourself
Going to a psychiatrist isn’t a magical experience where you walk into the room and suddenly feel better. I was dealing with clinical depression so I didn’t have anxiety leading up to the appointments but I did feel like garbage every time I went in and wasn’t feeling better. Like I was telling the therapist that she wasn’t good at her job or something. Part of the reason I stopped going, I also felt like a failure because therapy is supposed to help but I wasn’t really getting better.
Therapy isn’t a miracle service, it’s a way to open your eyes to the things you need to work on and ultimately you’re the only one who will make yourself better. Therapy just pushes you in the right direction and you have to make the hard decisions in life. Sadly I usually make the wrong ones.
32. Life Goes On
Graduation definitely wasn’t how I imagined it. Ya, after graduation and the festivities around it, I went back to my house with my roommates we were all like welp, guess we’ll get drunk one more time. Then over the next week we all moved out one by one. Then I started work a week later. It was weird. I went from taking classes, studying for finals, and completing this monumental task of graduating from college to sitting behind a desk and questioning my life choices in like a three week time span.
31. Institutions of Higher Education
College is definitely not all it’s cracked up to be. I tried to kill myself (legit, hospitalization and then psych ward, whole nine yards) with two half-time semesters of a biochemistry degree left. My school made me mandatorily take medical leave. Even though I quit showing up and quit going, it was still in the back of my mind.
Cut to two years later after I’ve had a child and gone to hell and back, and got a job and lost a job, I reached out and found out all I had to do was reapply at the college, I could switch majors to biology, and I could graduate within a year. I can also get financial aid. So I went back and I did that and I graduated.
My point is, even though you just stop showing up if you’re depressed, talk to your school. Take medical leave. Take a freaking break. Don’t kill yourself because you’re not in school. I tried to kill myself and it was the stupidest freaking thing I’ve ever done. You can always go back and finish. Even two years later. Don’t just think it all has to be the way you imagined it in order for it to count—take proper care of yourself along the way!
30. Sounds Like Someone Got Schooled
Going to school.
In the movies, class last like ten min tops, in real life, it’s six hours.
29. The Cold Hard Truth?
The one constant reminder I get as an adult is that life is painfully unceremonious.
Things just happen, and any meaning comes from you.
28. This Just In: High School is Not a Sitcom
High school. Though, Gravity Falls basically ends with one of the main characters getting really sad when she realizes that high school is… you know. Not a sitcom?
27. Well, That’s Specific!
Seeing the movie Avengers: Infinity War. Nothing like I expected…
26. Is There More to This Story, or Did That Doctor Just Really Suck?
Getting help/being in an emergency situation.
Instead, people just looked awkwardly at me and let me choke for several minutes.
Doctors accused 16-year-old me of lying and so began my years of untreated pain and being discarded by everyone, friends and family too, because they believed the words of a stranger who didn’t take me seriously over my own cries and pleading and well, even physical symptoms that I obviously couldn’t make up.
It’s still surreal and I feel alone and unable to trust anyone, especially after my friends and family abandoned me this way and doctors bad mouthed me.
25. I Guess Things Happen That Way
Giving birth. I had an emergency C-section that was so horrible and I was in so much pain, I had the baby and we didn’t bond, but when I nursed in post-op, all of the pain disappeared. I have never had something just vanish. But before I nursed it was like “What is this messy thing?”
24. Don’t Be a Workaholic
Career. Nothing prepares you for the drudgery of 8-10 hour work days.
23. A Pleasant Surprise For a Change
Getting old doesn’t necessarily always suck as much as you might think. Both my parents lived full and happy lives.
22. Sometimes It All Just Hits You
Got accepted in dental school. It was a goal I had for over 15 years. Then it hit, school was expensive. Moving across the States would be expensive. I had to pack as much as I could into a four-door sedan. Had to leave family and friends. Four years of intensive studying was going to occur.
21. The Most Magical Lineups on Earth
My first visit to Disney World…
20. We Found Love in a Hopeless Place
Finding love is nothing like in the movies. Went on 23 first dates before meeting my fiance. It was a pain, but we make each other happy so it was all worth it in the end.
19. Not Exactly a Fairy Tale Romance
For the love of God don’t even bother with dating. It’s depressing and an absolute waste of time and money. I finally stopped giving a damn, deleted all my online dating profiles, and just started enjoying being by myself instead of being depressed wondering what the hell is so wrong with me that nobody wants to date me. Screw that noise. Wayyyyyyyy better than the years of failed dates and countless unreturned messages.
18. Stop Believing Movies, People!!
Dating. Screw you High School Musical!
17. A Man’s Home is His Castle…Eventually, At Least
There is nothing fun, romantic, or enjoyable about buying your first house. I live in the US. Here, it worked roughly like this in my state: You find a property (or a few) that you like, and narrow it down to one that you want to put in an offer on. You work with a real estate agent or a realtor to put in an offer on said property with the seller’s agent/realtor (you can do this independently, but there are miles of paperwork, it is generally preferable to use a professional).
You generally want to be pre-approved for a mortgage while looking if possible, to make securing a mortgage once your offer is accepted easier. Your mortgage lender will eventually need things from you like bank statements, credit history, an appraisal for the house to value it, and other similar things to draw up your loan with once your offer is accepted and you are further along in the process.
If they accept your offer, you put down “earnest money” to show you are serious about the offer, and write a check for an amount ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the purchase price. This is non-refundable, so if you flake on the offer, you lose this money automatically. You then get inspections done for things likes termites, asbestos, and other potentially hazardous things, and if that all comes back clean, you then move forward with the negotiations to come up with a finalized contract that pleases both parties.
You then have a formal contract to buy/sell drawn up, and negotiations are made from both ends about what is to be fixed on the property, left there, taken away, who pays closing costs, etc. Once all of the details are finalized, both parties agree to a final offer and then you go to formally close on the property where all of the final draft documents are signed and recorded.
You then go to an attorney’s office and sign stuff for a while, shake a few hands, get the keys, and then go eat fast food on the steps of your new house.
16. Growing Up is Hard to Do
Adulthood, in general, is not what I expected. I have already been out of university for three years now, sat at home alone most of that time. I literally barely leave the house. I have major social issues so that stops me from getting a job, having friends, meeting people, etc. I literally don’t have a single contact in my phone. I tried a bunch of stuff and it was all just a bit too much. I literally wake up and wait to go to bed except when I walk down to collect unemployment which I use pretty much all on alcohol.
15. Not College Again!
Graduating college. I thought that was just a step to do and bam it’ll end and then I’ll start my life.
Boy did nobody give a damn, and boy, have I not started life. Even with experience, I am having no luck. So not Disney. At all…
14. Great Expectations
I always pictured my first sexual encounter as being something magical with the person I would love forever. I thought it would be awesome (don’t get me wrong, it was, just different). I ended up losing my virginity drunk and in a hammock in our neighborhood (She lived down the street from me).
13. There Are Few Things as Romantic as Stomach Issues
My proposal and marriage. I grew up thinking it would be that typical Hollywood thing with the crying and the white dress, etc. Instead, I proposed drunkenly to him and then we ended up eloping after a month because he was starting to have some stomach issues and I wanted to get him on my insurance so he didn’t have to depend on the VA.
Four years and going on two kids later, still totally worth it.
12. I Was Expecting a James Bond Level Bust
Reported someone in my management for harassment and sexual harassment. They also came into work drunk all the time. Didn’t follow food safety rules. Huge internal investigation, HR visited the store multiple times. At the end, they said they were sorry employees felt bad but they concluded nothing was wrong and we could always transfer stores if we wanted to.
I genuinely thought something would be done but it was just one big catastrophe of different levels of management trying to cover their own backsides and finding out which employees complained so they could figure out who to slowly drive out of the company for not being a team player.
11. Back to Reality
Graduated from college, moved to Florida with my parents, thought I’d find a hell of a job and be some kind of a professional. Surprise! The real world sucks and I’m now studying to go back and do my Masters.
10. Your Help Needs Some Help of Its Own
Everyone talks about therapy like you just show up and feel better, but that just didn’t happen for me. Nothing but anxiety leading up to those damn appointments.
9. Would a House By Any Other Name Smell Just as Sweet?
My family moving out of my childhood home. When people move out of a house on TV it’s always so sad, with the sappy music playing and they walk around the empty house, remembering all the good times that they had there. But when my house was completely emptied and I walked out for the last time I was nothing but tired from the move. I realized that a house is just a house.
8. The Dreams Were More of a Stretch Than the Limo…
Prom. Just a lousy experience with a bunch of awkward nerdy friends all in rented tuxedos. Eating some chocolate strawberries didn’t make up for the $60 tickets. Worst date night ever in my humble opinion…
7. Kissing Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be
First kiss was for sure one of the most anti-climactic experiences in high school. The build-up to it is almost always way better than the actual kiss.
It was like, oh yeah, this feels exactly how you would expect. It’s a mouth. But for some reason, I was expecting so much more sensation and magic.
6. Kissing IS All It’s Cracked Up To Be
Kissing is one of the most magic “Disney” experiences in the world in my humble opinion.
In my experience it’s like, “ew, gross, mouths aren’t for that” and I don’t want her molars fresh off chewing spinach to be so close to my tongue. But then you actually kiss and she’s softer than soft and warmer than warm and it’s a fireworks feeling all over your body. A good first kiss practically is magic. And Disney movies capture that (looking at you Enchanted) better than most.
5. And Thus Ends That Chapter of Your Life
Maybe a bit mundane, but the last day of my first job.
My first job was basic part-time barista work. Nothing fancy, by any means. To me, though, it was a place where I had been for nearly two years, was friendly or friends with all my coworkers and all the regulars, and had gone from zero experience to being a supervisor and one of the go-to people when things were getting dicey. It felt like an important part of my life. So, on my last day, I expected…. something. Some of my coworkers to drop by, or a heartwarming card, or in my heart of hearts some kind of big meaningful moment because I had been there for a while and leaving felt like a really big deal.
Instead, I walked out of the store by myself with zero fanfare, after closing at midnight, and never heard from or talked to all but one or two of those people again.
4. Not Like in the Movies
After my mom died when I was a kid I expected all woodland creatures, both large and small, to immediately take a liking to me. I rationalized, “Well, Ariel and Jasmine didn’t have moms, and Snow White had a stepmom like me now. The birds will be ecstatic to sing me their songs!”
I was attacked by a feral cat in the woods shortly after and got cat scratch fever.
3. Welcome to My World
Being handed my newborn. You know how in TV and movies the baby is all clean with an adorable little hat on and the mother is beaming with love and pride? Not really like that in real life, I was still in pain and exhausted from the labor and loss of blood during birth and baby was covered in said blood and other gross stuff. I wish I’d been warned that the “immediate rush of love” doesn’t always happen and it doesn’t mean you will turn out to be a bad mother, the bonding just takes a little longer sometimes.
2. Who’s Gonna March You Down the Aisle?
I’d say our wedding, it was great and all around as perfect as I could have hoped for. But the days leading up to it were a train wreck and I was exhausted. My wife’s dad had a heart attack and nearly died, he’s fine now, but we got like four hours of sleep in the three days before the wedding.
1. Sounds Like a Wild Goose Chase to Me
Finding my biological family.
You see these shows about adoption reunions and they make it look so wonderful and with a happy ending.
My biological mom and my biological dad actually got married and had four more kids after giving me up for adoption. I found them when I was 34 and they had been divorced for 20 years but still had this juvenile animosity towards each other. They were excited at first and then they thought I wanted money. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Sad all around.