COLUMN : to believe in yourself

comments 18


i just realised something recently. i’m no longer standing on the threshold, looking in at my dream life, visible but just out of reach. by moving to this apartment, i’m officially in. i’ve ticked off enough boxes to feel like the life i dreamed about is no longer out of reach.  i’m able to support myself with a job i absolutely love, i’ve got a beautiful apartment in a city that is good for me, i’ve got the man of my dreams, and more inspiration than i know what to do with. and the next glass of champagne is never far away.

of course there are a million other boxes i’d love to tick. but on the whole, i’m tremendously happy with where i’m at – at this point in time. i’m grateful and more than a little surprised that this is my life now.

because here’s the thing, if someone had told me that this would life would be mine back when i was 25 – i probably wouldn’t have believed them. i would have had a hard time getting my head around the fact that your normal everyday person could have the opportunity to come up with their own dream job from scratch, and being able to support themselves doing it. sounds a little bit too much like the american-dream-pull-yourself-up-by-your-boot-straps kind of fairy tales that you see on oprah.

this is what it’s like to grow up in sweden. the culture is built around equality, mostly for the better, sometimes for the worse. the less savoury bits about this culture being that no one is allowed to think that they are really good at anything, or that they should ever try out things that others don’t dare to. we are a people of employees, not many startups or entrepreneurs around.

being humble is the national virtue. the rest of the population standing by ready to put you in your place if you dare to dream big. it’s not out of malice or hurtfulness, it’s just our way. it’s unconscious, the group mentality.

when i was a little kid, i dreamed big. i wanted everything – to try every job, take over the world, be the best i could be. and i believed without a doubt that i could achieve whatever i set out to accomplish. then i started growing up and society taught me to be realistic. dreams are for kids and americans. realistic, educated, proper career choices and suitable husbands, cars and well-insulated houses is the swedish way. and hey, i understand completely – it’s a fantastic life, with five weeks paid vacation, a summer house of your own, an excellent salary, and stability like you wouldn’t believe. it’s really all you could ever dream of.

unless you are like me. for some reason never being drawn to that life. don’t know why, it just doesn’t suit me personally. it doesn’t for a lot of people. i think anyone who is suited for this life is lucky. it’s a lot less hassle and headache than the life of us nomads.

i actually needed to leave sweden and move to london to realise that this is a swedish thing, not a universal truth. getting to know londoners from all over the world, i was shocked to realise how much of what i though was human nature just happened to be swedish nature. in london, i got so much support and encouragement to just go for it, that it actually seemed possible – or at least tempting enough – to try going after that dream of mine.

i probably got more compliments my first year in london, than i had gotten the last 15 in stockholm. in london – everything seemed possible.
not probable perhaps. but possible.

after getting all that london confidence, i was lucky enough to be able to combine it with my swedish stability. i realise how privileged i am to have been born in a country where family and friends are secure enough to help you if you ever need it. how grateful i am to be able to experiment without risking ending up penny-less on the street. for this reason, my london confidence and my swedish security proved an excellent combination to start building on a life that i was excited about. a life without compromises.

without knowing exactly how, i had found my long-lost belief in myself again. i once more believed i could take on the world and accomplish whatever i set out to do. i recognised myself again, the excitement and gusto that used to fill me up as a kid. this was my true nature. not the self-doubting, realistic-choice-making, putting-myself-down jenny that society had slowly turned me into. i was back, in full force !

and i just realised something recently. it worked. the dog days are now over. i’m over the threshold looking back. and by looking back i realise yet another thing – that i wish my society had been kinder to the dreamers. that it had, when i was growing up, encouraged and supported unusual ways of living, instead of choking them. and i know i’m not alone, there are a lot of other cultures out there like the swedish one, that keep telling you to cut your hair and get a job.

as i’m sitting here though, looking at a grey and gorgeous berlin outside my window, i have to be honest. i’m quite pleased with both the length of my hair and the status of my un-employment.

love // jenny

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  1. Howard L McEwen Jr

    “Dreams are for kids and Americans”, An american entrepreneur here. Our culture tries the same thing. It seems increasingly so. Stay strong and fight it. :)

  2. I absolutely love this Jenny, so inspiring…
    Can’t wait to go and work even harder on my dream of making my current side job as an editor for Vegan Good Life Mag my full-time job… Or even start an own blog/ online magazine or youtube channel.

  3. This is a wonderful read! And once you re-read it, you will no longer be surprised that you’re living your dream life now. It’s not a co-incidence; you made it happen <3

  4. Jeg er fra Norge – hvor jeg har levd halvparten av mitt liv (dvs. 33 år). Derfor forstår jeg så inderlig godt hva du mener. Norge og Sverige er på mange måter like. Selv om det er mange fordeler å bo her for flertallet(!) – er det ganske vanskelig for mange å utvikle seg individuelt – når man ikke føler seg og tenker som “flertallet”. De som ønsker å forbli “originaler” – får vingene klippet, både på skolen og i arbeidslivet. Det tapet samfunnet på i det lange løp, fordi de må ut i verden for å kunne fortsette å utvikle seg.
    Jeg liker veldig godt din blogg – selv om jeg er 66 år gammel! Din blogg og videoklipp på youtube gjør mange mennesker glade – hva mer kan man ønske seg! Lykke til videre! Hilsen Marta

  5. thank you jenny. building one’s own dream life is definitely not the easy way but reading your post reminds me how happy it makes me feel everyday. i burn for those small challenges and victories. keep up the good work !

  6. This is so beautifully written and what you’ve said is so important. I, myself, an Easter European born moved to U.K. to pursue finding myself, I thought I was running away for something better because, God forbit, I had dreams that just did not work where I was, it was almost atrocious to think of what I had said I wanted to accomplish. Then I moved across Europe. I remember struggling with my confidence, I still do, I still think I don’t do things well enough but this is what I was always thought, I as well wish society had been kinder to me. Moving and changing my perspective has really helped and I’m more determined that ever! Thanks, Jenny, for the reminder!

  7. Nandini Barsuhn

    Thank you Lots Jenny. I am really happy to been Born in Germany,where all the people really encourage me to chase for my dream. I am really happy for you❤️
    Ps:I love your dark long hair

  8. Thank you Lots Jenny. I am really happy to been Born in Germany,where all the people really encourage me to chase for my dream. I am really happy for you❤️
    Ps:I love your dark long hair

  9. This spoke to my heart – especially the part about recognizing yourself again.
    In the past years, I struggled a lot with the pressure society put on me, but I struggled even more with my mental illness that made me question all my abilities and dreams. I feel like I don’t even have dreams any more. I feel like the person I have been before that last huge setback is gone, and I’m always quite puzzled when people remind me of her…
    Your column literally brought me to tears – I will fight for the person I’ve been, for her dreams and hopes and talents; because I am her, and not my illness!

  10. always like to read your column if I need some life advance.
    especially this one was really helpful for me.

    thank u xx

  11. what a wonderful blog, jenny. as an american immigrant living in france, i often question what i’m doing in life. i grew up being told that everything was possible and that you just had to work for it. but in my system, there was no stability and that was something i wanted. so i’m happy to be in europe, but overall, i think i needed more security in life. something between the american dream and the swedish dream, maybe. anyway, things for me to think about. thanks again for this. <3

  12. Pingback: HOW TO STOP BEING LAZY and become focused | jenny mustard

  13. I’m from Poland and I think I see some similarities. Maybe not the whole Poland, maybe just my city, but here to be a little different means to be looked at. It’s never good to bend some society driven rules, for example the dress code. You can be appropriately dressed however with a twist and you’re being judged. I don’t like that, nevertheless I walk with my head raised up high and a big smile on my face to show my confidence and individuality. Maybe I got a little off the track talking about clothes. It’s because my dream is connected with it. Lately I feel suppressed by people with tunnel vision, seeking job stability and proper, socially set ‘dream life’. Your post made me realize not to put my self down. Thanks for that!

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