December 13, 2015

The longer I’m in Sweden the more I see our cultural differences. Not to say one is better than another, they are just distinctly different. For example, jantelagen, is a new expression that I’ve learned and a pillar in Swedish society. Since Swedes are so deeply rooted in it’s idea that all people are equals, that goes for all things in society. The idea is that everyone should aim to be the same or on the same level, to be average is the goal.  There should never be an imbalance, you should not have more or less than your neighbor. Swedes will admit that they are stereotyped as being jealous or that if one shows what one has you are being braggy and you should always aim not to be that way. People speak badly about those that they feel show off too much. I have a problem with this idea of settling for average. That’s a distinct difference about American and Swedes, Americans aim to be the best in all that they do and Swedes do what they can to remain the middle, as to not to offend other people.

I have a feeling most people here feel that I’m way too “American” which is braggy, too ambitious, maybe they feel I think I’m better than them…but that could not be further from the truth. The truth is,… I work hard to be the best form of myself. I do not work so that I can brag about my accomplishments to others, but am I proud of it? Damn right I am. My accomplishments are not taking anything from another person, if they wanted to achieve something great and they work hard, then I admire that person. I don’t judge them because they want to get ahead in life. What they do is not my business nor does it have any effect on me, but the idea that I should settle for average is beyond me. We should be pumping each other up and give each other credit. When I see someone doing well that will motivate me to do better, not to compete, but to see that everyone has the ability to be more and do more. I think if Swedes were to take some of the American mentality in business and other aspects they would progress much faster than they are. And the thing is…Swedes have it in them to do so, but they are so afraid to show it for fear of what others will say that they will coast at being average or pretend that they are like everyone else.

I was talking to my hair stylist about this the other day. She has travelled the world and lived in Italy and Paris for many years doing hair for the fashion industry so she’s met all types of people. She is Swedish herself and she describe this jantelagen mentality to me in the form of women trying to hide the fact that they get their hair done! This is crazy to me. She said that some women will come in and get a blow out before an evening event, but they will never admit to the fact that they went to a salon to have it done. They will pretend they did it themselves or not say anything. They don’t want to make others think that they are special or feel entitled to getting their hair done. If I were the host, I would be happy that someone thought my event was something to get dressed for and spent extra time and attention. There is nothing wrong with polishing up for the night and getting your hair done. Another example, at work the other day my boss came in with a brand new Hermes belt. I noticed it right away and I compliment him, it almost made him embarrassed. He was shocked that I noticed and equally shocked that I complimented him, but he was smiling ear to ear. Of course he wanted someone to notice it, but he would never bring it up. You don’t wear a belt with gigantic H on it and expect it to go unnoticed. It’s great that he got something he really loved and I was genuinely happy for him.

I guess I’m bringing this up because I like to share a lot of my life on different social media platforms, it’s mostly for my friends back home to see what I’m doing and how I’m living in Sweden. It’s not everyday that an American is living in Sweden and trying to navigate a new culture. I don’t want to change who I am because I live in Sweden. If the people here can’t deal with someone wanting to get ahead in life, then they should keep scrolling or just ignore it because I am who I am and that will always be striving for the BEST of everything.



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