Life is full of surprises, and they often come wherever we least expect them. Though we may all be accustomed to our regular routines and ways of doing things, we can never truly predict when we will suddenly discover that everything we thought we knew was actually completely wrong—and there are truly no limits to how far off we all can be sometimes! Here are 42 stories of times when people suddenly discovered that they had always been getting something wrong.
1. Hard of Earing
For more than 20 years, I’ve been saying “play it by year” instead of “play it by ear.” After a lengthy argument and a quick Google search, I was left feeling like a pretty big idiot.
2. Remotely Interesting
I once owned a used car, and didn't realize until I was already trying to sell it that it had a remote start. Person buying my now-more-used car: So this has car has a remote start? Me: No. Person: (Pushes button, starts car) Me: Well, this is awkward...
3. Tangled up in Blue
I owned a light-blue microwave for about three years that a family member had given me as a housewarming gift. I always thought it was cool, as I had never seen a blue microwave before. Then, one night, a buddy who was over at my house asked me a question that blew my mind. He asked why I had never taken the blue plastic wrap off of my microwave.
I asked him what he meant and he then proceeded to peel it off for me. Darn, that thing had secretly been silver all along. Although I’m glad that I finally learned the truth, I must admit that I still miss my blue microwave from time to time.
4. You Better Get Packing!
From a very young age until the age of 10, I always thought that the word "backpack" was actually "pack pack." It was an embarrassing day when my 5th grade peers heard me call it that for the first time and explained that I had been saying it wrong all those years…
5. He Was Probably Your Fairy Godfather
When I was about five years old, a Pizza Hut employee once told me that the powder they put on their breadsticks is called “fairy dust.” I then consistently asked for extra fairy dust on my breadsticks whenever I ordered pizza from that point on until I was around 14. By then, the original guy didn’t work there anymore.
When I asked the new employee for extra fairy dust, his response broke me. He acted puzzled and said “Do you mean garlic salt?” It still devastates me to this day to realize how obtuse I was back then.
6. Skin in the Game
For many years, I used to eat mangoes with the skin still on before I learned that you're supposed to peel them first.
7. Lending a Helping Hand
Back when I was learning to drive, my dad explained the “rule of thumb” to me regarding how to keep a safe distance behind the car in front of me when on the road. I had never heard that expression before, and so naturally I made the dumbest assumption ever. I thought that it meant to literally hold your thumb up and check if it covered your entire view of the other car.
If your thumb didn’t cover the entire car, I thought, it meant that you were too close to it. When my dad caught me lifting my thumb up while driving a short time afterwards, he asked me what I was doing. When I explained myself to him, he instantly burst out into laughter before considering the situation and concluding that it wasn’t actually such a bad idea.
8. Time to Face the Music
When I was a kid, I taught myself how to play the clarinet. I was extremely proud of myself. Then, six months later, someone saw me playing and innocently pointed out that I was playing it with the mouthpiece upside down. That was awkward…
9. A Study in Studying
I used to think that just reading textbooks over and over again was how everyone studied, so that’s how I did it too. I never quite understood why my grades were so low if I was constantly studying. I’d be like "I read the page so many times, I don’t understand what happened!" Then one day, I finally realized what I was doing wrong.
I saw my friend in the library making flow charts and summaries in his notebook. I said "We don’t have to do all that, you know" and he was like "I know, I’m just studying." Suddenly, it all made sense. It blew my mind how much better my grades got from that point on.
10. The Adams Family
I was quite shocked when I realized, at the age of 18, that the phrase is “Up and at ‘em;” rather than “Up and Adam” as I had always mistakenly thought. Over the years, I had often wondered who the heck “Adam” was and thought it was a stupid phrase. Turns out I had a point after all!
11. Shedding Some Light on This Question
I have a flashlight that I've owned for nearly a decade. I originally bought it because it looked a lot like a lightsaber and it was on sale for a pretty cheap price. Plus, you could twist the lens around to focus it—or so I thought. When I got it home and put batteries in it, I found out that twisting the top didn't actually change the focus.
I then assumed that the top being able to twist must have just been a result of the product being cheap. Fast forward to a month or so ago. A heavy storm picked up during the night one evening, so I went outside to make sure that nothing in my yard was going to blow away. As I was trying to open my gate, the flashlight slipped out of my hand and I caught it by the twisty part of the top.
As soon as I squeezed it, I found out its true purpose. A hidden compartment opened, revealing the fact that the top’s purpose all along had actually been to open up into a bright lantern that can light up an entire area. Turns out the thing wasn’t just a cheap piece of junk after all. There have definitely been times where it would have been incredibly useful to have known this.
12. Getting Lit
My boyfriend and I had been lighting incense like regular candles for the longest time. We both loved scented candles, so we had been trying to start a collection—but every one that we bought would just ignite like a mini inferno and would never work the way that we wanted it to. We couldn’t figure out why this was happening to every single one that we bought.
We became convinced that we were probably just buying cheap garbage. Then, my roommate happened to observe us trying to light one and informed us that you are supposed to blow them out once you light them. Oops!
13. I Guess We Can Scratch That off the List...
I always thought that eggplant tasted "itchy," as if itchy was a flavor like sour or salty. Then, I fed some one day to my baby and his face turned red wherever the eggplant touched. That was when the truth hit me. I realized that we are both just allergic to eggplant, and that itchy is not actually a flavor of food…my bad, little baby.
14. How to Think Inside the Box
I was dating a girl some years ago and when we ordered Chinese takeout one night, she completely unfolded the box and laid it out flat like a plate. I asked her what she was doing, as I had never seen that done before and didn’t even realize that it was possible. She said that the box was designed that way intentionally and was supposed to be unfolded into a plate.
She added that, for the life of her, she could never understand why all of her friends always scooped their food out of the boxes and onto other plates when the box itself was a plate. I now do this all the time and it weirds people out. Apparently, most of them are still as ignorant as I once was. Get on it, people!
15. True Colors Shining
I’m colorblind and, as a result, I always thought that peanut butter was green until I turned 19. When I found out it was brown, my mind was absolutely blown. It took so long for me to find out though, because no one ever really just casually talks about the color of things for no apparent reason.
16. Sounds Like Someone’s Got a Bird Brain
For years, I was accidentally pronouncing the word “hybrid” as “Hi Bird.” Then, one day, my husband heard me say it and repeated it back to me in a Snuffaluffagus voice. I swear, I instantly had a Ratatouille-esque food critic flashback to every time in my life that I had ever said it wrong. I was 33 years old at the time.
17. They Long to Be Close to You
Back in the early 2010s, my boyfriend and I had a PlayStation that we also used for Netflix and what-not, since we didn’t have a smart TV. The controller was on such a short cord that we would always have to get up from the couch to change the channel or to push any buttons. My boyfriend also used to have to sit on the floor right up close to the TV to play his video games.
Then, my brother came to visit us one day. We started watching a show on Netflix and got up to use the remote like we always did. My brother proceeded to astound us. He unplugged the controller, hand it to us, and say “You do realize this is a WIRELESS controller, right?” No, we did not realize that. As a matter of fact, we were totally dumbfounded by the sudden revelation.
But then it all started to make sense.Why would there have been a cord coming out of it unless it was to charge our wireless controller? How could we never have made that connection? Minds. Blown.
18. You Are What You Eat
When I was a kid, I was once told by a trusted friend that the paper wrapping that comes on most cupcakes and muffins is edible. I would then spend the next decade or so eating my cupcakes and muffins with wrapper and all, until a friend finally pointed the error out to me. But, was it really my fault? What the heck was my original friend thinking?
19. Put a Lid on It
After living with my very smart and crafty fiancé for over five years, there is hardly anything that I haven’t discovered I was doing wrong at some point! Nevertheless, the most embarrassing example would have to be the time when she saw me open a new stick of deodorant. I was wrestling with that little plastic cover, trying my hardest to get it off for a full minute.
She solved my problem in the simplest way. She finally said, “Why don’t you just twist the stick up and lift it off?” I have no idea why she is interested in marrying someone like me, but I’m definitely grateful that she is.
My wife and I have this ceiling fixture in our bedroom in the house that we moved into about two years ago. It has a remote control for turning on its fan, as well as its attached lights. About a year and a half ago, the lights on it suddenly stopped working. The fan still worked perfectly well and we didn't have a ton of money lying around, so we decided to just live off our bedside lamps for a bit.
All the while, we were pretty annoyed and frustrated at how dark our room constantly was. Then, just a few weeks ago, I was scrolling through some thread on Reddit when I stumbled upon a post by someone who had thought that his lights were broken, only to find out that he had merely changed their settings to "dim" by mistake.
It sounded so much like our fan’s situation that I grabbed our remote right away to test the theory out. Yep. Dimmed. I feel pretty stupid...
21. Technologically Challenged
Until pretty recently, I somehow never realized that the address bar on a web browser is also a search engine. I always used to actually type in Google.com before putting in whatever I wanted to search for.
22. Double Whammy
You know how people always say that you're supposed to hold chopsticks the same way that you hold a pen? Well, when I was about 7 years old and went back to Taiwan with my parents, I was thoroughly mocked by my dad's family for holding my chopsticks wrong. A very confused young version of myself was like, "But I hold it the way I hold my pencil, like I'm supposed to!"
On that day, not only did I learn that I did not know how to handle chopsticks, but I also learned that I had apparently never held a pencil or pen correctly in my entire life…
23. April Showers
I always HATED taking showers because getting in, turning the water on, and getting abruptly splashed with freezing cold water was never my idea of fun. I would always end up just standing in the corner of the tub, freezing my butt off, waiting for the water to slowly warm up. I had no idea it could be so much easier than that.
Then one day, I came across a comment on Reddit where someone mentioned that they turn their shower on and run the water for several minutes before even getting in, so that the water can warm up first. I have been doing that ever since, and showering is now a waaaayy better experience for me!
24. Cutting the Cheese
I only recently discovered that I did not know how to properly make macaroni and cheese. Up until a few months ago, I would always drain the noodles and add them back to the pot, then add the milk, butter, and cheese packet. It took forever to get all the clumps out. Then I realized that it would be way easier to just add the milk, butter, and cheese to the already hot pan and make a cheese sauce while the noodles were draining. No more clumps.
25. The Wrong State of Mind
I completely thought that the White House was in Washington State until I was something like 23 years old. It was a bizarre hole in my knowledge that I can neither explain nor defend. I have since visited and confirmed that it is, in fact, in DC.
26. Costing an Arm and a Leg
My wife and I bought a nice new liquor cabinet a few years back. We got it delivered and noticed that it was a bit shorter than it had looked in the store. No biggie, though. Then, three years later, we’re moving. We lift up the cabinet and make a discovery that made our jaws drop. These beautiful, ornate screw-on legs wrapped in tape and bubble wrap fall off the bottom.
It looks so much better now!
27. It All Comes Crashing Down
Do you ever buy soda in a 6- or 8-pack of bottles and then struggle to twist and pull the bottle out of the tight plastic rings? Turns out there's actually a small pull tab connected to a serrated line through the plastic. You can just pull that tab, and then the plastic will break easily when you pull at the bottle.
My aunt taught me about this over 20 years ago, because no one in my immediate family was aware of it. I let my fiance in on the secret just last week. If that’s not a life hack, I don’t know what is!
28. Swinging in the Rain
Growing up, my family used to have this swing set in our backyard, which had a kid's swing on it. The kid's swing would always fill up with a huge puddle of water whenever it rained. To combat this, my dad would typically struggle to balance it upside down on the crossbar that it hung from. When I watched him do this, I always quietly wondered, "why doesn't he just drill a small hole through the seat to drain the water out?"
Then I thought, that's too simple a solution; he's obviously thought of it by now and knows why it's a bad idea. I'll just look like an idiot if I bring it up to him. So I held my tongue, and after a year or so of this process repeating itself each and every time that it rained, I overheard him complaining under his breath one day while he was outside trying to balance the swing again.
Curious, I approached and asked what was the matter. When he explained to me that he was growing fairly frustrated with this inefficient system of puddle removal, I finally opened my mouth and asked, "Why don't you just drill a hole through the bottom of it?" His response shook me at first. He didn't even say anything.
He just looked at me like I was an idiot, and then walked away. I was racking my brain, trying to figure out what obvious flaw in my plan I was missing. Just a few short minutes later, my dad came back with a drill in his hand. That was when I realized that the face he had just made in response to my question had not been directed at me.
The look was more of a "Why on Earth didn't I think of that?" expression once he realized that he had been handling this problem all wrong for over a year. I've started asking people questions a lot more often now.
29. Indecent Exposure
As embarrassing as this is to admit, I used to pull my pants down all the way at the urinal until the day a fellow bathroom user corrected me.
30. The Opposite of a Wisdom Tooth
My family kept a cup next to the bathroom sink at all times when I was growing up. It was there just in case anyone ever needed to rinse their mouth after brushing their teeth or maybe get a quick drink of water in the middle of the night. My grandma had the exact same cup at her house, and also kept it beside her bathroom sink.
Naturally, I casually used this cup for years whenever I was thirsty, just as I did with the one we had at my house. I never even gave the matter a second thought. The one day, I found out the disgusting truth. I was at her house and my mom saw me about to take a drink from the cup, as I had done many times in the past.
All of a sudden, she shouted out, “Don’t use that cup! That’s where grandma stores her teeth at night!” Welp, too late...
31. Like a Rolling Stone
I’m an idiot and, for years, did not know how to properly open or use plastic wrap, aluminum foil, wax paper, etc. Apparently, the box is designed to hold the roll in place while you pull. This means that aimlessly tugging and crumpling it with all your might, as I had always done, is not actually the most effective way of going about it…
32. Locked and Loaded
I work with caulk guns. Everyone says that you're supposed to pull it towards you, and that’s how I always did it. Then, one day, I saw a comment on a Reddit thread explaining that this is not actually the way that they are designed to be used. Apparently, they're designed to be pushed away instead. So, I now do it that way.
My boss has started looking at me funny for doing it like that, but the jobs I’ve done recently have been exponentially cleaner and tighter than the old ones ever were!
33. You’re a Nut!
One day, I was with my friends and we were talking about almonds; but when I said the word, they all looked at me funny. Apparently, my pronunciation was completely wrong. And had been for years. I basically pronounced the first syllable like the name “Al,” which they all thought was hilarious for some reason.
34. A Load of Bull
My mom used to refer to me as a “bull in a china shop.” However, I always misheard it as “bowl in a china shop,” thinking it was a compliment. Many years later, when I was about 22 years old, I heard someone else use the phrase to refer to a clearly crazy person, and I suddenly realized that it was not a compliment after all…
35. Not the Smoothest Pickup Line...
The thing that I never realized I was doing wrong my entire life was wiping my butt. I always assumed that everyone reached their hands up between their legs from the front (like I did)—but after someone made a joke about wiping and mimicked doing it the proper way, I became intrigued and started asking everyone I met how they did it.
After a while, I started to realize that they all seemed to do it the same way—and it wasn’t my way…
36. Be Vewy Quiet, I’m Hunting Wabbits
For years, I had a set of rabbit ear antennas for my TV because I was too cheap to pay for cable. I always got less-than-stellar reception and I figured it was because of my cheap antenna. Then, I moved to a new place and my dad came over to help set up my TV. In one simple move, he changed my world. He took the antenna and pulled the ears out to their fully extended length.
I was shocked. I had no idea that they could extend and retract, or that adjusting them could affect the TV’s reception. I guess you learn something new every day!
37. Feel the Heat
I was fortunate enough to have recently bought my own home. I moved in and the thermostat on the wall was set to about 70 degrees fahrenheit. As time went on, I couldn't figure out why there was no visible way for me to change the temperature. My electric bill was through the roof every month. The thermostat was well above my eye level and I lived alone for quite some time, though family and friends did visit regularly.
After several months of leaving the windows open or closed to adapt to each change in the weather, I finally asked my niece to check the thermostat for a way to change the temperature. She looked around for a bit and then saw a tab that I was supposed to pull on to reveal all of the buttons and settings of the thermostat. I’m an idiot!
38. Born This Way
I’m a former school nurse. The number of high school boys who don't know what circumcision is is amazingly high. Many think that they were "born circumcised." When they finally see a foreskin, they are in complete shock and awe. When they find out that the brown ring on their private area is a scar from when their foreskin was removed, they are also amazed.
39. All Over the Lace
I tied my shoes the wrong way up until last year, when someone finally made me aware that people’s laces don’t normally come undone every single day. I am an adult.
40. I’m a Little Tea Cup
I used to always fill my kettles by pouring water into the spout. For some reason, my parents had always done it this way, and so I had always just assumed that the center part was mainly for decoration but not actually functional. I don’t know why I never questioned this in all that time—Until it all went very wrong.
Then, I bought a new tea kettle and, after using it for a few weeks, my husband noticed one day that something just seemed to taste a little off. He wanted to take a look at the inside of the kettle and see what the heck was going on. To my utter shock and bewilderment, he opened the center with great ease and pulled out a manual with instructions and whatnot.
Yea, so my husband and I were drinking wet dirty paper in our tea for like 2 weeks because I did not know how to use a kettle properly.
41. Getting to Know You
My dad just discovered that he has been spelling his own name wrong for his entire life. He’s currently 51 years old. His name is Geoffrey, and he has been spelling it like that since he first learned how to spell his name. A few months ago, however, my mom pulled out his birth certificate, and we all suddenly realized that it’s actually spelled “Jeffery” in the eyes of the law.
I’m not sure if he has started spelling it the “true” way since then, but the discovery was definitely a mind-blowing moment for him.
42. Follow Your Heart’s Direction
This is honestly so embarrassing, I don't want to confess it. For years, I was always sitting on the toilet backwards when pooping. I only found out recently that apparently no one else does this. I always thought that the back of the toilet was meant to be a shelf of sorts for your comic books and chocolate milk while you’re sitting on there!