I’ve been called ‘stupid’ for about a decade — for making trivial mistakes, for being a disappointment, for asking for help — by someone who once cared about me.

And the unimaginable part is, I tried to take it all in. I convinced myself that being told so was a good thing because if anything, it’d be a lesson to not make the same mistake again. 

This was the way to learn. This was how I could become smarter, I’d tell myself.
Otherwise, how could I ever improve?

But no matter how well-thought out these self-justifying explanations were, it hurt. It pained me every single time, in ways I couldn’t even begin to describe.

Besides stripping me of my self-confidence, it broke my enthusiasm towards learning; tasks I’d failed, mistakes I’d made — I’d chalk it up to my incompetence even when it was reasonable to fail within limits. I began believing I was more stupid and over time, I began to develop a fear towards failure. I was afraid I’d somehow slip up and once again hear those dreadful words ringing into my ears: Are you fucking stupid?!

It wasn’t until years later after breaking out of the relationship and meeting people who had instead encouraged me to learn from my mistakes that I realized how real the dangers of being called ‘stupid’ could be.

It’s a simple word but if used abusively, could ruin someone’s potential for life. And it scares me, even to this day, to even think about what might’ve happened if I didn’t meet the friends I did who encouraged me the way they did.

Because had I continued believing that I was stupid, I wouldn’t be where I am today — writing, living and traveling in Southeast Asia while working on my startup under my own terms. I’m glad I’ve finally broke free.

And I hope that this post will somehow change the way you use this word, ‘stupid’, or help you understand that you’re not, because nobody is stupid. 

There will always be people who are inexperienced compared to the rest of the world, but they’re just inexperienced, not stupid. They haven’t had the same kind of opportunities you’ve had and so they require more time and patience to learn at their own pace. And if they’re willing to learn, what right do we have to take that away from them?