The fear of appearances is the first symptom of impotence.
Because, first of all, I am at fault for being more intelligent than anyone around me. (I’ve always considered myself more intelligent than anyone around me, and, would you believe me, I’ve sometimes even felt embarrassed by it. At any rate, I’ve always somehow looked sideways and could never look people straight in the eye.)
It was sheer torture, a continuous intolerable sense of humiliation at the idea, which turned out to be a constant and direct feeling, that I was nothing but a fly before all that fine society, a revolting, obscene fly – more intelligent, more cultivated, nobler than anyone else, that went without saying, but a fly nonetheless, forever yielding the way to everyone, humiliated and insulted by everyone.
A cultivated and decent man cannot be vain without setting a fearfully high standard for himself, and without despising and almost hating himself at certain moments.
Every man has some reminiscences which he would not tell to everyone, but only to his friends. He has others which he would not reveal even to his friends, but only to himself, and that in secret. But finally there are still others which a man is even afraid to tell himself, and every decent man has a considerable number of such things stored away. That is, one can even say that the more decent he is, the greater the number of such things in his mind.