Pop Culture

20 embarrassing but very relatable stories of people doing 'stupid' things to look cool

We've all been there.

genz z trends, ask reddit

Cool becomes cringe so very easily.

There's a glorious point in adult life when you suddenly realize that other people's opinion of you doesn't hold the same sway. You've cultivated enough of an authentic tribe and self-assurance that you are truly liberated from caring about how you come across—hopefully without the overcorrection of losing any and all social awareness.

But until that time comes, our adolescent selves will do things that are, as the kids say, totally cringe in order to blend in with a friend group, impress a childhood crush, emulate a beloved celebrity or feel just a little more grown-up. Sometimes these seemingly "cool" behaviors become the detriment of our own health and well-being in the long run, when they lead to addiction with drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. Other times, if we're lucky, we just wind up with a very embarrassing story to keep ourselves humble.

Which brings us to Reddit user u/Beneficial_Form8563, who asked "What is the stupidest thing you have ever done to try to be cool?"

As you can imagine, the answers were wild. No matter what outrageous thing each person did, they all left with the same bit of wisdom: Turns out this wasn't cool after all, I'm much better off just being myself. That's pretty much the theme of every young adult's life, isn't it?

Scroll below for 20 of the absolute best from the comments. And by best, we mean absolutely embarrassing. Enjoy.

1. "When I was 8 my sister had her friends over, all teenagers, and trying to be cool I jumped on the trampoline in front of them and told them I’d do a backflip. I’d never done a backflip so I landed on my neck, bounced off the trampoline and broke my wrist."

– u/Artemis64z

2. "Wore my pants backwards during the 90s when Kriss Kross was popular, so glad we didn't have social media back then."

– u/-Rocjames77

3. "Got pulled over for playing my car stereo too loud. Took the ticket, turned it back up. Took another ticket, turned it back up. Took a third ticket, turned it back up. Spent the night in jail."

– u/Small_Kick_5912

4. "Tried shotgunning a beer in front of my crush. I sneezed midway through and the beer came out my nose. Hurt really bad."

– u/Red_Christmas_Lights

4. "In 1st grade, I was very jealous of people with glasses. I wore an old pair of my mom's sunglasses and said they were prescription…My teacher saw right through it, of course.I kept taking them off to read the chalkboard and she told me to put them back on…

She called my mom and explained the situation. Mom picked me up from school and all I remember is denying it, and then my mom expressed her disappointment that I'd lie to her and to a teacher. So I told kids I switched to contacts (which were barely a thing then, especially for kids)."


– u/ahhh_ennui

5. "Rubbed poison ivy all over my face. It was the last day of school in 7th grade and since I’d never gotten poison ivy before I was convinced that meant it didn’t affect me. So I started bragging really loudly to everyone around me that poison ivy doesn’t affect me and nobody believed me so I grabbed a bunch and rubbed it all over my face.…

Spoiler alert: it definitely does affect me. That was a rough start to summer vacation."

– u/thumbingitup

6. "Jumped off the top of the jungle gym to show off to my crush from school…. I was 10 and it was at least an 8 foot fall. Landed on my feet, then my knees, then my hands….so cool, so amazing, wouldn’t do it again."

– u/GadisRKO

7. "This is so cringe but I pretended to play street hockey when I was in 5th grade because I thought it would make me seem tough. I was about an 80 pound nerdy girl and truth is I just really liked reading cat related magazines and collecting Polly Pockets. I would do things like wear a fake sling for my arm and claim I sprained it playing street hockey 😩"

– u/RhodeIslandRedChick

8. "Did the worm in front of a crush in elementary school one time. No music or anything…That one is a mainstay in my nighttime embarrassing memory replay."

– u/SithSkate03

9. "Had my mullet cut off but left a rat tail, then had it braided."


– u/TrailerParkPrepper

10. "Buying designer clothes and shoes."

– u/BrilliantMaybe4086

11. "Told someone I had a pet turkey. I have no idea why, I was like six and thought it would be cool. How did I get out of the lie? Well, conveniently Thanksgiving was right around the corner."

– u/Whickerchair

12. "In second grade I forced my mom to sign "Nolan Ryan" on my ball and took it to school to tell everyone I caught it at a game. It didn't take long for it to be pointed out that what I had brought was in fact a softball, not a baseball."

– u/wandering_nobody

13. "When I was in third grade, I told my friends that I met Power Rangers. In a train. In India. South India. During vacation. Cool Max 😎 "

– u/Historical_Love7860

14. "Not as bad as most, but I remember walking 15 - 20 feet behind my parents when we’d go to the mall. Nobody ever caught on that I was with them, right? My wife and I laugh about our kids doing the same thing."

– u/trashcanfairy

15. "2010. Cringe central. I started rapping at a party.💀💀💀"


– u/idontkillbees

16. "Write 'special edition' with a magic marker on a Lego box."

– u/Temporary_Ad_5947

17. "In elementary school, I was a pretty strong reader, but I heard some of the cool kids read out loud and have a lot more trouble and stumble over their words. In order to be cool I would imitate their reading style and stutter or act like I was sounding out words any time I had to read out loud."

– u/James17Marsh

18. "Back in middle school, I thought people who chewed gum look cool for some reason, so I started to imitate the motion all the time, even when I wasn’t actually chewing gum. Started a lifetime of teeth grinding and by the time I was 30…Had to reconstruct some teeth eventually and now I wear a mouth guard even when taking a 20 minute nap."


– u/thecynicroute

19. "Somehow I got it into my 14-year-old head that my ticket to the esteem of my peers was to mope around wearing all black, writing and living the most gawd awful angsty poetry… I guess I thought the other kids would consider me some brilliant, nascent philosopher and come for my counsel? Fortunately, I outgrew all that just in time to make a few actual friends in high school."

– u/zazzlekdazzle

20. "I tried chugging 3 beers at once out of a very large glass to impress a girl. It worked and she was impressed. Then she wanted to show her friends. Beer 4-6 didn’t go down as smooth and I projectile vomited all over her living room furniture. Never heard from her again."

– u/Snowman4168


From political science to joining the fight against cancer: How one woman found her passion

An unexpected pivot to project management expanded Krystal Brady's idea of what it means to make a positive impact.

Krystal Brady/PMI

Krystal Brady utilizes her project management skills to help advance cancer research and advocacy.


Cancer impacts nearly everyone’s life in one way or another, and thankfully, we’re learning more about treatment and prevention every day. Individuals and organizations dedicated to fighting cancer and promising research from scientists are often front and center, but we don’t always see the people working behind the scenes to make the fight possible.

People like Krystal Brady.

While studying political science in college, Brady envisioned her future self in public office. She never dreamed she’d build a successful career in the world of oncology, helping cancer researchers, doctors and advocates continue battling cancer, but more efficiently.

Brady’s journey to oncology began with a seasonal job at a small publishing company, which helped pay for college and awakened her love for managing projects. Now, 15 years later, she’s serving as director of digital experience and strategy at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which she describes as “the perfect place to pair my love of project management and desire to make positive change in the world.”

As a project manager, Brady helps make big ideas for the improvement of diagnosing and treating cancer a reality. She is responsible for driving the critical projects that impact the lives of cancer researchers, doctors, and patients.

“I tell people that my job is part toolbox, part glue,” says Brady. “Being a project manager means being responsible for understanding the details of a project, knowing what tools or resources you need to execute the project, and facilitating the flow of that work to the best outcome possible. That means promoting communication, partnership, and ownership among the team for the project.”

At its heart, Brady’s project management work is about helping people. One of the big projects Brady is currently working on is ASCO’s digital transformation, which includes upgrading systems and applications to help streamline and personalize oncologists’ online experience so they can access the right resources more quickly. Whether you are managing humans or machines, there’s an extraordinary need for workers with the skillset to harness new technology and solve problems.

The digital transformation project also includes preparing for the use of emerging technologies such as generative AI to help them in their research and practices.

“Most importantly, it lays the groundwork for us to make a meaningful impact at the point of care, giving the oncologist and patient the absolute latest recommendations or guidelines for care for that specific patient or case, allowing the doctor to spend more time with their patients and less time on paperwork,” Brady says.

In today’s fast-changing, quickly advancing world, project management is perhaps more valuable than ever. After discovering her love for it, Brady earned her Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification through Project Management Institute (PMI)—the premier professional organization for project managers with chapters all over the world—which she says gave her an edge over other candidates when she applied for her job at ASCO.

“The knowledge I gained in preparing for the PMP exam serves me every day in my role,” Brady says. “What I did not expect and have truly come to value is the PMI network as well – finding like-minded individuals, opportunities for continuous learning, and the ability to volunteer and give back.”

PMI’s growing community – including more than 300 chapters globally – serves as a place for project managers and individuals who use project management skills to learn and grow through events, online resources, and certification programs.

While people often think of project management in the context of corporate careers, all industries and organizations need project managers, making it a great career for those who want to elevate our world through non-profits or other service-oriented fields.

“Project management makes a difference by focusing on efficiency and outcomes, making us all a little better at what we do,” says Brady. “In almost every industry, understanding how to do our work more effectively and efficiently means more value to our customers, and the world at large, at an increased pace.”

Project management is also a stable career path in high demand as shown by PMI research, which found that the global economy will need 25 million more project managers by 2030 and that the median salary for project managers in the US has grown to $120K.

If you’d like to learn more about careers in project management, PMI has resources to help you get started or prove your proficiency, including its entry-level Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification program. For those interested in pursuing a project management career to make a difference, it could be your first step.

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