Fremdscham: A Short Story

Decent Essays
There’s something.
Maybe it’s just a quirk? Or a habit? But either way, without it, you’re not quite sure if you’d even be you.

My grandmother always told me I was just a really sensitive kid. The little things stuck too much in my mind. The little mistakes I’d make would linger so long, they’d never happen again. Disappointment almost physically hurt me. It had a certain look when they stared down at you. One that’d make my eyes water and my throat close up. I’d start to suffocate. I’d messed up.

Good thing for me, observation can almost equal experience.

Fremdscham is a German word for shame felt for the actions of someone else. You may know it as, secondhand embarrassment.

The other kids made mistakes so I didn’t have to.

I’d never
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Rather, it still does. Ignorance was all I could think to describe it as at the time, but as I get older I can see, maybe it’s not that simple. For one, we all do things with somewhat of a “why”. Without that “why”, it’s generally pointless.
Ask a hundred people why they would want to go to the moon and I doubt they could give lengthy answer. Why don’t you try asking an astronaut instead? And there it is! An astronaut could probably give you a why. A “why” driven by emotion and interest.

So what is the difference between the astronaut and the hundred other people?

So it’s not ignorance. We’re born with a why more or less. Things drive us and compel us. We set goals to make ourselves happy. It may be settling down in a cabin home with a spouse and kids. For another it may be going to the park with their dog until the day they die.

I, on the other hand, have no idea what I want. I see nothing as impossible for myself. This makes me want to be everything. Experience everything. I know, impossible.

So my “why” would have to be myself. To impress. See what beautiful things I can make myself. Try until the day I can declare my “work” satisfactory. It’s ingrained in me. It’s who I am.

I have a
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