The road to wisdom is often long, hard and treacherous. Experience may be an effective teacher, but it isn’t always the kindest one. And often, people acquire crucial wisdom or knowledge that would have served them far better at an earlier time in their lives.

Painfully aware of this fact, someone recently decided to go to AskReddit and inquire of people there: “What do people learn too late?” The post has so far received more than 76,000 uprooted and over 20,000 comments.

Here are some of the most insightful ones.

Wisdom Earned Too Late

  1. Hollywood and the broader culture often present us with images of wild, extravagant and exciting lives.

When people inevitably learn that living such lives cannot be possible for everyone, they may become despondent and start worrying that they are wasting their lives. But that isn’t necessarily true. With true wisdom comes serenity. It’s okay to live simply and quietly, grounded to a few things that are important to you. That doesn’t mean you’re wasting your life. In many cases, it may be the proper path to fulfillment.

  1. Apologizing for doing something wrong can be difficult because it requires you to swallow your pride. But often, knowing when not to apologize — when to stand your ground and assert your personal boundaries — can be just as difficult. Sometimes, people are genuinely entitled to apologies. Other times, they simply use calls for one as a manipulation tactic. It requires wisdom to see the difference.

  1. Not everyone is going to like you. That’s just in the nature of things. Sometimes, the quality of a man can be judged by who his enemies are. If you find that some genuinely terrible people hate you, wear that like a badge. You will never win them over, and you shouldn’t try to do so. Focus your energy on areas where it can make a difference.

  2. Often, college is simply a scam. If you are an intellectually talented person or if something specific which requires licensure — like being a doctor or a lawyer — attracts you, it may still be a good idea to go. But for most ordinary people, trade is a much more practical — and much better — option.


If you can weld or fix a faucet, people will hire you. If all you have is a sociology degree and no personal connections, they likely won’t.

  1. Being wrong about something, admitting it and then changing your mind is not something to be ashamed of. It’s actually integral to maturity and personal growth.