So, Weltschmerz. I mentioned it briefly the other day. It a depression caused by comparison of the actual state of the world with an ideal state. I think of it as the opposite of Schadenfreude (taking pleasure in another’s misfortune), though it probably isn’t exactly an opposite. I said on Thursday that I tend to be more of a Weltschmerz girl than a Schadenfreude one. And despite my discovery that I can feel Schadenfreude, I am still more of a Weltschmerz girl.
An old boyfriend of mine was often annoyed with me. One source of his forever-dissatisfaction was my inability to see the world as it was. I used to have a much stronger Nellie Forbush streak than I do now. You know, Nellie Forbush, from South Pacific? I was totally that cockeyed-optimist she sang about, immature and incurably green.
It drove him nuts. I would express concern over some situation, exclaiming, “That’s not the way it’s supposed to be!” And he would pretty much lose his mind because the concerning situation in question wasn’t at all variable, it was always just the way it was. The problem was that I wanted it to be better — I wanted it to be “right” — fair, equitable, kind.
He would rail against my ideal-world vision, said I was a fool in rose-colored glasses. Yeah, he was a spectacularly bad boyfriend, truly. I kept my glasses on all the same … I eventually took them off long enough to see him clearly, thank goodness.
I think this kind of flying-in-the-face-of-what-is optimism is precisely what causes Weltschmerz. Because you hold onto that shining image of the ideal world … but then you also see the actual world, and it just breaks your heart again and again.
But, despite my illicit affair with Schadenfreude, Weltschmerz girl I remain. Knowing it’s called something, has this specific name and definition, is oddly comforting. Have you ever experienced Weltschmerz? Did you know it was called that? Does it make you feel better knowing that feeling has a name?
We’re almost halfway through the 2016 edition of the Slice of Life Story Challenge! Head over to Two Writing Teachers to see what the rest of the slicers are up to … and to post the link to your own slice!