It’s been 7 months since we moved… Even as I type this I can’t really believe the words. The time went by so fast… Almost like I didn't really live it, it just kind of went by and now it’s April. I think about this time last year and how I felt and what I was doing and I don’t know how I got from there to here… I just kind of blinked and it went.
I got very busy in the past 2 months… A good busy but also just busy in general. I have formed a new-found respect for the Scandinavians and how much effort they put into their personal relationships with each other, because I can barely keep up with them when it comes to just making sure I see my friends and do all of my work and take care of my family.
I am beginning to understand how their social circles work. Many Danes are natives and have spent the majority of their lives in Denmark which is a very tiny country of only 5.5 million people. That means a majority of their friends and family have always been here. I am a native of San Diego, a much larger place with about 8 million people. But I have always been there and my family and longterm friends are people I’ve always been with or lived very close to.
We know how to interact with each other, we can sense when space needs to be present, we understand how dinner parties and social gatherings work… when it’s July 4th or Thanksgiving, we only need to decide whose house we will be gathering at that year not necessarily who is invited. We have always been friends, we have always had our chair assignments, we have always been known for that one tasty dish… change comes and goes but the end result is still the regular Sunday morning coffee date in our sweatpants.
Coming to Denmark I gave that up… I didn’t think about it then. I figured I would just continue to have those relationships here. But then I moved and I couldn’t afford to live in the neighborhood where my new friends live and I have to make plans to meet up for coffee and certainly not in my sweatpants because that would be both cold and not the way things are done. I gave up the comfort of living a life I recognized and could live without thinking about. Auto-pilot has yet to resume.
But friends and friendships still are a huge part of my social self… I need people around me to give me a reason to take a shower, get dressed and leave my tiny house. My career is incredibly important to me and my friends and family have always been my reason to take a break because, dammit, I work a lot. I could work all day, everyday and not even notice. I’m the quintessential work-horse and, even though it’s not always appreciated, I still do it and I love it…. but I love my friends and family more so I stop for them.
It’s a troubling beast, this moving forward and not looking back so often that it stagnates your progress… this “making a new life for yourself when all you can think about is the life you left behind” monster. When you get a little sad and you think about your old life, all you can think about are the good things, all sweet no sour. But if that were the case, that my life in California was so perfect, I wouldn’t have fought so hard to get to month #7 in Denmark (please don't read too far into this California friends).
I guess, in all reality, I miss things being easy which is not always a good reason to miss something. In the difficulty of trying something new and different, you find parts of yourself that you never knew existed before. So far I’ve found strength, willingness, passion, survival instincts, the ability to live off very little, how a scarf is suppose to function, why layers are important, another language I never thought I’d learn, how to spend quality time with my family, how NOT to be so phone obsessed, that Instagram followers are not indicative of your talent, the appropriate ways to be busy, how much love can be found in a bowl of soup, how sometimes quiet can be too quiet, that wind gusts can actually knock you off your feet and that not all wool is itchy… How important a single friendship can be.
I don’t know if Scandinavia is my permanent place… sometimes I feel like my work is appreciated here more than it was in my hometown. But then, sometimes, I feel like that appreciation is as a result of my willingness to do things others are not willing to do here. Ultimately, the world has many lessons that can be learned from the Scandinavians and their ways of life. Their positivity in the darkest times, their unwillingness to be so overtly emotional that it detracts from the gifts the earth has given to them… the way they put so much focus on their personal relationships is something to be admired greatly, at least that’s how I feel.
I am extremely grateful for the time I’ve been given here in Denmark… it has brought with it many gifts and enlightening moments. I’ve never worked so hard at something in my entire life and I don't see that effort as unfair or unjust, I see it as a chance to push myself and find a way in. I don’t think of the opportunities I have received here as lucky but rather as a reflection of the work I’ve put into being present and integrating into this culture.
As I live and work here I want to be a part of this place as much as I can and I think that is the reason why I’m not completely drowning in it. I am here… I am not frustrated with my choices. I am not angry or displeased with my situation… I’m worthy of progressing forward on a path of my choosing and I am extremely grateful to everyone that has helped me along the way. There is no shame in asking for help and there is a lot of joy to be found in a simple “Tak.”