Some painfully obvious things I learned too late in life

Shannon Proudfoot: I asked people to describe their most thunderous epiphany. After 1,400 twitter replies, it’s safe to say we all discovered a lot.

On Tuesday morning, I tweeted, “What’s the most mundane but thunderous epiphany you ever had? Something so ridiculously dull or elementary that still bowled you over when you figured it out?” I was just looking to spark a fun and entirely inconsequential conversation. I figured a dozen or two people might respond, and we could have a laugh about the painfully obvious things we figured out way too late in life.

Now, 1,400 responses—and counting!—to my tweet later, it’s safe to say that everyone involved in this monster Twitter thread has learned a lot.

My original tweet was inspired by a trip to the grocery store the day before. I grabbed a carton of eggs, popped it open and started tapping the eggs while my kids sat in the shopping cart. I watched my mom do this probably weekly throughout my entire childhood, and every time, I would think worriedly to myself, “Is she insane? Why is she counting them? Can’t she tell all 12 eggs are there?”

I was in my teens by the time I realized she was rocking the eggs in their little cardboard nests to make sure none were broken. The realization felt like sunbeams blasting through clouds in a religious painting.

It turns out I’m not alone here.

In the hundreds of responses to my tweet, two themes emerged. First, there were all the people confessing to absurdly obvious things it took them way too long to figure out. And, for seemingly every single one of those self-mocking disclosures, there was someone else—sometimes several someones else—replying, “Wait a minute, what?!

Of course, Twitter being Twitter, a handful of people misunderstood the assignment and replied with a humble-brag about some esoteric bit of literature or scientific knowledge, or a pithily woke observation about human nature. No, no, Corporal Buzzkillington, the point was for us all to share the most embarrassing moment when we each felt an internal lightbulb click on. You put on that dunce cap and go sit over there for a while so the rest of us can enjoy ourselves.

More than anything, what I think this thread demonstrates is that none of us are as stupid as we feel in our dumbest moments—and none of us are smart as we think we are, either.

A selection of the best responses is below. Buckle up.

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