Every Childlike Author needs a Playground.

The Childlike Author Feels… Ashamed

Ashamed [uhsheymd] – feeling shame; distressed or embarrassed by feelings of guilt, foolishness, or disgrace.

Feeling ashamed for something we’ve done is an emotion we’ve all experienced unless we’re sociopaths. If you are a sociopath, I’d like to recommend a career in espionage—you’d be great at it.

I, however, am not a sociopath. But I digress (and besides, most sociopaths would claim the same thing—that they are not sociopaths).

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During those experiences when I’ve felt ashamed, they were primarily a result of other people. No, I’m not blaming other people, I’m merely saying it’s difficult to feel foolish, or disgraced, or guilty when you are alone.

Take money lending as an example. Suppose your friend loans you a sizable sum and you delay paying it for too long. What happens? Well, for one thing, you will likely start avoiding that friend, because being around them makes you feel ashamed for not returning their money, while being away from them is liberating. When you’re not in their company you can’t pay them the money you owe, which removes any feelings of accountability.  Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Or take sex and nudity as an example. Most normal people not in the pornography and modeling industries (and even some within those industries) would feel ashamed to be publicly exposed… but they have fewer or no qualms about having sex with an intimate partner, or bathing, or undressing behind closed doors.

In fact, I’ll go one further and say that feeling ashamed is more common when you’re with friends or family, because you care about their opinions way more than you care about the opinions of strangers. Feeling ashamed can result from so many different things, like not having a nice car, or behaving in a way your parents taught you was wrong, or saying something stupid in front of someone you think is smart. But mostly it comes from a desire to impress, to “keep up with the Joneses,” to meet the expectations and standards of other people—people you care about in some way or form.

Which is why sociopaths are sociopaths, because their motto is “Screw other people.” They don’t care about anyone.

So, to prove I’m not a sociopath, let me tell you about a time when I was ashamed.

The experience which immediately comes to mind transpired in a university course titled “Computational Neuroscience.” It was a course which, had I not dropped it mid-semester, was the last course needed for me to minor in, well… Computational Neuroscience. And with a course title like that, you can imagine the sort of people with which I was in company. I mean, these were smart people.

You should also know that I usually don’t speak up when a lecturer asks a question. For one thing, the question could be rhetorical. For another thing, the answer could be so obvious I’m too busy trying to understand why he or she would ask it in the first place. For a third thing, it’s a lecture, not a Q and A session or an exam. Or finally, I just don’t know the answer.

Which is why I still have no clue what I was thinking when I answered one of my professor’s questions.

And not only did I answer it, but I did it in the dumbest way possible, in the hearing of all my really smart classmates.

There was an uncomfortable silence when I finished speaking.

And then the professor, who had initially responded with a tiny chortle and the words “You can’t really believe that,” looked around the room and asked, “Can anyone else answer the question?”

I think I probably blushed… for the remainder of the class. I felt foolish and disgraced. I felt ashamed.

Which is why I’m not a sociopath.

Of course, many sociopaths are also liars. (Don’t worry, you can trust me.)

NOTE: I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I dropped the course because I was so completely ashamed by my foolish, disgraceful answer that I couldn’t bear to show my face again. Well, I was ashamed by it, but that’s not why I dropped the class. I dropped it because I was taking too many course hours, and by the middle of the semester I was losing sleep between my coursework and my job. It would be neat to say I minored in “Computational Neuroscience,” but it would not be neat to say that I died from exhaustion, partly because I would be dead, partly because I would be a weary ghost.

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Are you a sociopath? You can prove you’re not by telling us about a time you felt Ashamed. You can leave your proof below or by clicking HERE. If you are a sociopath, you can lie to the rest of us by clicking HERE.

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6 responses

  1. SWIM

    “many sociopaths are also liars. (Don’t worry, you can trust me.)” Is what a sociopath would say…

    Like

    April 2, 2014 at 7:42 am

  2. Ha! I love your invitation to comment. I’m here from A-Z and will be back. I love your stick people.

    Well, as a person who has lectured too many times in her life, I’ll share the opposite experience of shame. When I was a graduate student I was the teaching assistant for a class called “The History of Witchcraft.” For some reason I still can’t fathom, the only male student in my discussion section of fifteen students commented that he’d really like to have sex with a witch and asked if there was a willing woman in the room. I stared at him blankly and moved on, uncomfortable but completely unprepared. Afterwards, I was totally ashamed that I hadn’t called him out for that in front of the entire class. It completely compromised my authority, and the space, and if I felt violated, I’m sure the younger women in the class must have. Ugh.

    Your professor should’ve found a way to validate you, to move the discussion in the right direction without embarrassing you.

    Like

    April 2, 2014 at 8:32 am

    • Thank you! I’m glad you liked it so much!

      Wow! That’s a really bold thing to say… especially if he thought the class was full of real witches… “Oops! How’d that toad get in here?” And with only fifteen students, that really makes it awkward in later classes.

      Yes, my professor could’ve done better in the situation, but in retrospect I think he felt a little surprised by the stupidity of my comment, so his reaction was a natural one. I’ll give him props for being genuine. Still, I would have preferred him to simply explain the correct answer and then continue with his lecture, as if he got my kind of dumb comment all the time.

      Like

      April 2, 2014 at 1:28 pm

  3. Alex Hurst

    To this day, I am still completely ashamed by using the incorrect pronoun for a transgender friend. Every time I think about it, I get all the bad feels… so I finally sat down and wrote him an email and explained how sorry I was, even though I’d apologized at the time too. He just laughed it off… but I still get ashamed thinking of it. 😛

    Alex Hurst, fantasy author in Japan, participating in the A-Z Challenge.

    Like

    April 9, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    • Yup. That would be embarrassing. For a short while I worked at a call center, and quite often it would be difficult to tell whether certain callers were female or male. I guessed wrong on multiple occasions. Sometimes they didn’t even bother to correct me until I’d used the wrong pronoun several times. Typically they were gracious about it, but I was always a little ashamed, so I can relate to that.

      Like

      April 10, 2014 at 7:06 pm

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