And don't be embarrassed, either. I'd bet a good many of us did the exact same thing when we were learning. Knitting seems simple when you've been doing it for years. It isn't when you first start out, and all the stuff that seems obvious twenty or thirty years down the road is NOT obvious when you're a week into it!
Save yourself some fuss right now: when you start a piece, stick a safety pin or a piece of yarn or anything you have on what you want to be the outside/public side/right side of the work. Also, keep some Post-Its or scrap paper and a safety pin handy, especially when you're working on something complicated, and when you have to lay down the work in a hurry, take enough time to scrawl "Row 17 DONE" or something like that. Not that I've ever got the sides of work mixed up...or forgot which row I was on...or knitted with the cast-on tail (just did that the other night AGAIN...)