The Discomfort You’re Feeling is (Not) Grief
Germans really do have the best words for things.
Remember March? It was the last time I (leisurely) enjoyed a cup of overpriced coffee without simultaneously wearing a surgical mask and sheer look of terror on my face. Also in March, Harvard Business Review told us the discomfort we’re feeling is grief. And not just regular, old-fashioned grief, but also temporary grief and even anticipatory grief — what joy!
But now it’s September, and here in ‘Murrica we’re winning by losing with more than 20% of the world’s new daily COVID cases and its deaths — like I said, winning by losing.
No, friends. What we’re feeling is not grief. What we’re feeling is my new favorite phrase in German — Fremdschämen Kuddelmuddel. This isn’t a real phrase, rather, it’s my loving combination of two exceptional German words:
- Fremdschämen: A sense of embarrassment for someone who has embarrassed themselves
- Kuddelmuddel: Your run-of-the-mill, disorganized mess
In 2020 post-logic America, that’s what we’re feeling. Grief would indicate some sense of understanding or, at least, acknowledgement. We can’t bring ourselves to wear cotton face condoms for 15 minutes in the Walmart, so no. We don’t get to feel grief. We get to feel embarrassed at everyone who are embarrassing themselves — and in turn, us — in this great, big shitshow.
Anyway. If you’re like me, you’ve run out of things to say when people ask how you’re doing on phone calls and Zoom meetings. Why not change it up? Give ’em some: “Oh you know, doing fine, but definitely fremdschämen kuddelmuddel all up in this mother*cker.” Or if you’re texting, go with some shorthand and drop a little “FK, MF-er” in there!