If You Feel Stupid, Here Are 16 Obvious Reasons You’re Not

If You Feel Stupid, Here Are 16 Obvious Reasons You’re Not iStock

We all feel a bit stupid sometimes. I can’t tell you how many “Ugh, why did I say/do that?” moments I’ve had throughout my life — it’s basically a constant. However, I do know deep down that I’m not as much of an idiot as I think I am. If you’re struggling to accept that you’re not a dunce, here are a few things to remind yourself of.

1. You’ve made your fair share of mistakes.

young businessman using phone looking serious

Everyone has. It’s a part of life. But the difference between smart people and stupid people is what they do with those mistakes. If you’ve learned from them, it shows you’re actually pretty intelligent. It means you’re not afraid to try, to experiment, to take risks. And when things don’t go as planned, you take it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Stupidity is not making mistakes; it’s making the same mistakes over and over again without learning anything.

2. You ask a lot of questions.

woman with crossed arms at home

Asking questions is not something stupid people do. That fact that you’re willing to means that you’re not afraid to admit when you don’t know something and that you want to find the answers. It takes courage to ask questions, to admit your ignorance, and to seek knowledge. Stupid people pretend to know everything. They’re afraid to ask questions because they see it as a sign of weakness. But in reality, the willingness to ask questions is a sign of strength and intelligence.

3. You’re extremely self-aware.

young man looking serious filled with regret

Self-awareness is something that a lot of people sadly lack. The fact that you have it means that you can actually look at yourself objectively, recognize your strengths and weaknesses, and understand how your actions affect the people around you. Stupid people are not on this level. They’re oblivious to their flaws and never take the time to reflect on their actions or seek ways to improve. By being self-aware, you’re showing that you’re not only intelligent but also emotionally mature.

4. You embrace change rather than resist it.

smiling woman looking off to side

Life is all about change. Things are constantly evolving, and the ability to adapt to these changes shows that you’re not stupid even if you feel that way. It shows that you’re not rigid in your thinking, that you’re able to adjust your beliefs and actions based on new information or circumstances. Stupid people resist change. They cling to outdated beliefs and practices and refuse to adapt even when it’s clear that their ways are no longer working. By being adaptable, you’re proving that you’re not only smart but also resilient.

5. You don’t flap your gums nonstop — you know how to listen.

man with crossed arms looking serious

Listening is a skill that many people lack. It’s easy to talk, to express your own ideas and opinions. But it takes patience and humility to listen to others, to truly understand their perspectives. By listening more than you speak, you’re showing that you value other people’s ideas and experiences. You understand that everyone you meet knows something you don’t, and you’re willing to learn from them. This is a sign of intelligence and wisdom.

6. You do your own thing because you’re not a sheep.

smiling woman looking off to side

Following the crowd is easy. It doesn’t require much thought or effort. But you’re not like that. You think for yourself. You don’t let others dictate your beliefs or actions. This is a sign of intelligence. It shows that you’re not afraid to stand alone, to be different. You understand that just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s right or good. And that’s not stupidity, that’s strength.

7. You’re not afraid to be wrong sometimes.

man with striped shirt looking serious

Many people are so afraid of being wrong that they refuse to take risks or try new things, but not you. I mean, it sucks, but it’s not the end of the world. You understand that being wrong is part of the learning process. You’re not afraid to admit when you’re wrong, to adjust your beliefs or actions based on new information. No matter how stupid you feel, this proves you’re not. It shows that you’re open-minded, flexible, and willing to grow.

8. You’re always trying to learn new things.

confident beautiful woman at work

You get learning doesn’t stop when you leave school. You’re always trying to expand your knowledge and skills so that you can understand the world better. This is a sign of intelligence. Stupid people think they know it all. They see learning as a chore, but you know better. You understand that the more you learn, the more you realize how much you don’t know. And that’s a sign of genius (well, sorta, lol), not stupidity.

9. You don’t mind saying “I don’t know.”

serious man sitting on table

Many people are afraid to admit when they don’t know something and see it as a sign of weakness. You’re not like that. You’re not afraid to say “I don’t know.” You understand that it’s impossible to know everything, and you’re not afraid to admit your ignorance. This is a sign of humility and intelligence. Stupid people pretend to know everything. They’re afraid to admit their ignorance because they see it as a sign of weakness. But you know that true strength lies in the ability to admit when you’re wrong or don’t know something.

10. You’re ridiculously open-minded.

beautiful woman outside in sunshine

You’re actually willing to consider different perspectives and ideas, to challenge your own beliefs and assumptions. You’re not rigid in your thinking. You understand that the world is complex and that there’s always more to learn. Stupid people are closed-minded. They refuse to consider other perspectives, to challenge their beliefs. They’re stuck in their ways, refusing to grow or learn. But not you. You’re open-minded, curious, and always willing to learn.

11. You think about the things you’ve done.

man working at computer

Reflection is a key part of learning and growth. It means you take the time to think about your actions and decisions, to understand why you did what you did and how you can do better in the future. Stupid people don’t reflect. They repeat the same mistakes over and over again, never learning or growing. But you’re different. You understand the value of reflection. You learn from your past and strive to do better in the future.

12. You respect people’s time.

serious woman standing against wall

Valuing other people’s time is a sign of respect and emotional intelligence. You understand that everyone’s time is valuable, and you respect that. You don’t waste other people’s time with unnecessary chatter or demands. You’re considerate, understanding, and respectful. Stupid people don’t value other people’s time. They’re selfish, inconsiderate, and disrespectful. Not you!

13. You know how to laugh at yourself.

serious man looking off to the right

Being able to laugh at yourself is a sign that you’re not stupid, no matter how much you feel like you are. It means you don’t take yourself too seriously, that you’re able to see the humor in your mistakes and learn from them. Stupid people can’t laugh at themselves because they take themselves way too seriously. They see their mistakes as failures rather than opportunities to learn and grow. Sucks to be them, don’t you think?

14. You’re nice to people just because kindness costs nothing.

concentrating woman looking at computer

Being nice is so simple, but so many people don’t do it because they’re the worst. Thankfully, you understand the importance of empathy and compassion. You know how to put yourself in other people’s shoes and treat them with kindness and respect. Stupid people usually the opposite. They lack empathy and compassion, and they treat people with disrespect. But not you. You’re kind, compassionate, and understanding. You treat others with respect, and that’s a sign of intelligence, not stupidity.

15. You’re curious about the world around you.

woman with arms crossed at office

You’re not content with just accepting things as they are; you want to know why they are the way they are. This thirst for knowledge is a clear sign you’re not stupid. Stupidity is characterized by a lack of curiosity and a refusal to learn. By being curious, you’re already proving that you’re not stupid. You’re taking steps to grow, to learn, and to better understand the world around you. That’s a sign of intelligence.

16. You don’t give up at the first hurdle.


hipster guy with glasses standing outside office

Persistence is the opposite of stupidity. It shows that you have the determination to keep going, even when things get tough. You don’t give up easily and are willing to put in the effort to achieve your goals. Stupid people often lack this persistence. They give up easily when faced with challenges and don’t have the determination to see things through. But not you. You’re persistent, showing that you’re committed to learning and growing. That’s not stupidity, that’s strength.

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Phoebe Mertens is a writer, speaker, and strategist who has helped dozens of female-founded and led companies reach success in areas such a finance, tech, science, and fashion. Her keen eye for detail and her innovative approach to modern womanhood makes her one of the most sought-out in her industry, and there's nothing she loves more than to see these companies shine.

With an MBA from NYU's Stern School of Business and features in Forbes and Fast Company she Phoebe has proven she knows her stuff. While she doesn't use social media, she does have a private Instagram just to look at pictures of cats.