Things I Would Tell My Younger Self

I could turn this into a novel. I could explain everything in dripping detail. Or I could keep it short and sweet. I’ve decided to keep it short and sweet.

  1. Don’t live for other people. You’ll do this unaware that you are doing it.
  2. No matter what you do, even if it’s literally just existing, someone will hate you. You cannot be right or perfect for everyone, so don’t try. Expect haters.
  3. Pain is an internal fire alarm. Your pain is valid. Listen to it.
  4. Throw labels out with the trash.
  5. Negativity is a poison. Optimistism can be too. Just look at things as they are and accept them. Hope is sacred though. Keep it.
  6. Believe in yourself. Cheesy AF, but also true AF.
  7. Your interests are valid. Even the uncool ones.
  8. People who love you don’t treat you like shit. Walk away. You can love someone from far away. Walking away doesn’t mean you’re not loyal or that you don’t love someone.
  9. Be vulnerable.
  10. Don’t ever regret loving someone or something. Even if they hurt you, you weren’t doing something wrong by caring.
  11. You can’t save anyone. It’s not your job to save anyone.
  12. Loyalty is sticking with people through the hard times, not sticking with someone who intently constantly hurts you.
  13. Don’t give up.
  14. Tell people you love/need/respect/admire/appreciate them. Say thank yous. You’re going to lose more people to death or unfortunate life events than you expect and it’ll happen in an instant…so tell people when you can.
  15. Keep the photos.
  16. Everything you’ve been told about diet, fitness, being healthy, being fit, food, beauty, aging…health, in general, is a lie. Which brings me to:
  17. You’ve got PCOS. Your body is broken and it’s not your fault.
  18. Food is not poison. Food is awesome. It’s ok to love food. It’s ok to eat. Food is not the enemy.
  19. You don’t have to be nice to creepy perverts. Tell them to fuck off.
  20. Go on that trip. I’ve never regretted a trip I took or a place I’ve visited.
  21. Trauma makes you afraid. Let go of that fear.
  22. Take a joke. Make jokes. Laugh at jokes. Laugh at yourself. Humor is power.
  23. Keep writing. Keep drawing. Keep dreaming.
  24. It’s ok to make mistakes.
  25. Don’t be someone’s shit basket.
  26. You don’t have to smile if you don’t want to.
  27. Crying doesn’t mean you’re weak.
  28. The system is rigged, so you will put 110% in and fall short. You have to be your own advocate.
  29. View each day as a micro-life. Let that weight just fall off your shoulders when you do.
  30. 30 isn’t old. It’s still young…very young.
  31. You’re allowed to change your mind.

P.S. Invest in those weird bands you like so much. They become famous.

 

Hygge

Serendipity…searching for how to survive winter I learned what I was missing in my daily life.

I stood in soggy boots, the north wind blew at me sideways, my face was red, my fingers were numb, my nose was running, and my hair was a hot mess. It was my first winter in Canada. I was not prepared.

Then came the second winter and I was still a mess.

Come 2017 I ignored the idea of winter until November came and went leaving me in December. The winter wind is roaring back and I’ll need more than waterproof boots to get through this one.

I lived in Florida for years and they don’t have winters. I lived in Texas a bit and their winters are just cold air. Texas is just sky and flat land. Summer there is hell’s breath, but winter is survivable. I grew up in Tennessee, where winter is mild with the occasional blizzard. I did get stuck in a blizzard in Colorado once; had to drive for 24 hours to get away from it. That’s another story.

I’m trying to make a home in Canada so I need to adapt. I got a giant cup of coffee and googled countries with serious winters and how they survive it, which lead me to Scandinavian cultures which lead me to the word hygge. The word hit me like a wool sweater in the face. (That joke will make more sense later.)

It sounds a bit like “hoo-ga” (do not say “higgy”) and the word belongs to the Danish with no English equivalent. It has siblings in other languages, however. The Dutch have gezelligheid. The Norwegians have koselig. The Swedish have mysig. The Germans have gemütlichkeit. The Finnish have kalsarikännit, which is sitting alone at home in your underwear drinking with no intention of going outside. Close enough. (If I got the words wrong, correct me.)

In a gist, it is a feeling…the feeling you get when you’re safe, cozy, and enjoying things. The opposite feeling I get in the winter. The word is a notable cultural aspect of Denmark. The word is used as a noun or verb. Meeting a friend over coffee can be hygge. Sitting by the fire can be hygge. Having a piece of cake with family can be hygge. People hygge all the time and don’t realize it. Talking about politics, playing on your phone, or being rude is not hygge.

There were some clever people who saw the opportunity of wrapping hygge in a bow and selling it to the masses. The feeling cannot be bought or sold or forced; you don’t have to spend a dime to feel hygge. It’s marketed as sitting by the fireplace wearing socks drinking hot cocoa, but you can feel it by the campfire in the summer with friends.

The dark side of moving to a new country (or even a new city) is that hygge is lost. As a psychology nerd, I see a connection between hygge and the familiar. Being an expat means re-creating a home in a new, strange place. Hygge becomes a rare and special feeling. Though hygge cannot be forced it can be invited or encouraged, so my game plan is to survive enjoy winter, like practicing old traditions from home, making new traditions, candlelight dinners, time with friends, making and sharing comfort food. Time will pass and life in Canada will settle in, being less foreign and more familiar.

I can’t visit family or friends back home and I’m still getting to know this country. I was fortunate to move in with my boyfriend. His family and friends are welcoming. Many expats move alone and must struggle without support in their new home. I can’t imagine that.

No one likes having their snot freeze, but I’m thankful for the chance to experience winter and have excuses to do things only suited for cold weather.

Now, pardon me while I go put on a second pair of socks. That’s right…double socks.

***

Hygge may be used as a commerce tool to sell things, but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Behind the Instagram aesthetics of pie and coffee mug cozies, there’s a real feeling. Here’s your permission to take a break.

Danes Explaining Hygge 2014

Danish Man explaining Hygge in Detail

VisitDenmark Explaining Hygge 2013

More Reading

Gezelligheid vs Hygge < Dutch vs Danish differences in coziness.

9 Ways to be Gezellig < The Dutch hygge

Is Hygge real, or just hype? < Danish answer the question.

Dutch Tell Ya How to Gezellig < Features lots of cool Dutch words.

Norway: koselig

Koselig to get through the Winter

Kalsarikännit < Finnish

Hygge Conspiracy