"Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me." We're supposed to believe that adage and live by it, brushing off any negative comments that may be thrown our way.
We're supposed to be so confident in our own worth that insulting commentary and critique are meaningless.
But that is simply not real life. Truthfully, things people say can really hurt. And the insults can stick with us, lingering for years as we try to feel a sense of self-worth in the face of that thorn in our side from long ago.
And the struggle is even more pronounced when the insult comes from somebody we thought we could trust, say a friend, parent, or relative.
Some Redditors gathered to vent about the meanest comments that they can't seem to shake.
fruitydude asked, "What insult was so mean that it permanently damaged your self-esteem?"
When You Let Your Guard Down
"When I was younger an older 'friend' that I used to look up to back then told me while we're having fun in a group: 'If could see yourself laugh, you would probably never laugh again.'"
"I'm still self conscious about my laugh 10 years later."
Toughest Meal of the Day
"'You're poor ewww.' And 'Why is your lunch so smelly.. DOG EATER.' Yeah, I grew up not super wealthy like other kids being first generation with immigrant parents. It really hurt."
"I hated eating the lunches my mom made while other kids ate lunchables and pre-packaged foods or bought food from the cafeteria."
"Looking back I shouldn't have been ashamed given my mom was making really nice bentos. So I'd forego eating lunch almost every day. I'd eat maybe a small bag of chips since that was cheap to get."
"To this day I don't really eat lunch :(."
"I had an awful step mother, her and my dad locked me in my room aside from school with nothing but a sleeping bag for 2 years. Changed the doorknob on my door so it locked on the outside.
"She would bring me my dinner, set it on the floor and say 'here doggy doggy.' It ruined me in every way."
"'It was probably something unnecessary again' - my best friend who constantly told me this when she didn't really hear what I said."
"Doesn't sound too harsh but it made me stop talking as much and thinking of myself as a boring Person people don't enjoy talking to."
Bad Connotations of a Cute Thing
"My ex and I had a common friend. When we were still dating he told our friend, 'she's like a puppy.' Our friend confided this info to me."
"I thought it was a good thing until he said that he added 'you can do whatever you want and say whatever you want and she'll still be happy to see you.' My forgiving personality was taken for granted."
"When I told my father I wanted to come home to the family property and work on it and he said that was not going to happen. He said that he had 2 useful sons to run the property why would he want a useless daughter to be involved."
"The irony is that my brothers were given the family farm and lost it, I was given nothing and now have my own farm."
An Overshadowing Identity
"'Like, why did you even go to Vegas? You're so boring. I bet you ruined it for your friends.' - My coworker, completely 100% unprompted, weeks after I had returned."
"My other coworkers jumped in basically immediately and called her out, but the damage was done. Years later I still can't help but label myself as the boring friend."
The Last Thing They Needed to Hear
"I have stretch marks because I'm very tall for my age and had a growth spurt during Quarantine."
"'You look like a tiger with these stretch marks, Everybody will think you're ugly.'"
"Thanks mom for making me hate myself even more."
"I was trying to learn guitar and I fell in love with it, I would practice everyday after school."
"I tried showing my dad how i was progressing and he told me 'is that all you can do?' it's been 5 years and I've never touched my guitar since then."
"oh boy. I was around 7 years old, my mum invited her friend round and she brought her daughter along. we were playing and the girl told me about her ballet classes."
"I asked my mum if I could go to ballet class with her and she said they'd take one look at me and tell me sumo wrestling was down the hall and I was in the wrong room."
"this was about 15 years ago and it still hurts to think about. I've brought it up before and she conveniently doesn't remember. thanks mum!"
"'You run weird.'" -- ashish19982001
"Duuuude! I got this one back in grade school and to this day it makes me avoid having to run at all costs. Need me to hurry? Best i can do is fast-walk." -- JosephSmash
An Unwelcome Return
"My 2nd grade teacher the day after I came back to school from being sick 'the class was better without you in it'" -- c00kie912
"In 2nd f***in grade? Damn." -- TheBlueLightbulb
"I've heard that teachers sometimes mentally stoop to the age that they are teaching. It explains so much about some of those grade school teachers I had."
"Not that that's an excuse; that's absolutely a horrible thing to say to any child." -- mmm_unprocessed_fish
"I got made fun of for my teeth when I was young. They were all over the place and I had to have braces TWICE and a permanent retainer to fix them."
"No notable insult comes to mind, but the other kids would laugh if I smiled or laughed because they were making fun of my teeth."
"I'm 31 with a beautiful smile now and I'm still weird about smiling."
"When I was in school I was often called a 'Garden gnome' because I was short and fat I guess. I never forgot that. I remember seeing a picture on someone's Facebook of me in a crowd and someone had wrote 'look in the back! Found the gnome.'"
"It hurt, because I was never even mean to these kids but they hated me enough to do that."
"This one time when I was a kid I was wearing my soccer shoes and running from my house to the car to go to a game. My dad was waiting for me inside the car and he saw me running."
"When I got inside he told me, 'don't run with those shoes on again,' to which I said, 'you're right, I might trip and fall, and hurt myself'..."
"...to which he replied 'I don't give a f*** about you but those shoes were expensive'... it's been about 28 years since that happened and I still remember that moment and how deep my heart hurt like it just happened."
Tough to Flirt After That
"At a party, the host's girlfriend told a room full of her single friends that I was a shy guy, useless to date, and a lost cause."
"Still hurts like a motherf***er today."
"'You are the worst I have EVER had! Worse than the guy who raped me! And if you ever want to keep a girl or marry someone then you should never have sex ever again!'"
"So you know what? I won't. Ever. Because now I f***ing hate the thought of sex or being that vulnerable with someone who could destroy me that easily ever again."
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