Posts in Sweden
Always Stick to Your Ethics
Estimated reading time: 1'20

Estimated reading time: 1'20

- Reading time 1'20 -

 

I heard about Sebastien's story while discussing dream jobs abroad with my boyfriend at the time.

He told me the horror story of one of his friends.

It all started well.

Sebastien had signed a new job in beautiful Cyprus, his dream job, great salary and perks, fun company and interesting responsibilities, and had moved into a beautiful apartment with rooftop terrasse.

His girlfriend was willing to have a long-distance relationship, and he was getting along well with his new colleagues.

Or so he thought.

One night on a weekday, they all went out and his colleagues insisted that he's take drugs with them.

He never tried it and wasn't into it. But everybody was doing it, insisting over and over again so he felt peer-pressured and ended up accepting to try it for the first time.

Incidentally, the next day, there happened to be a drug control in the office.

Not for everyone though, he was the only person "randomly picked".

His test was, of course, positive and he was asked to pick up his things and leave the company/country on the same day.

Once he came back to his home country, Sweden, he was unemployed for a while, became depressed, put up on weight, his girlfriend broke up with him and he lost his apartment.

Eventually, he turned his life around, has a new place/ job/girlfriend and is happy,

Turns out one of his managers in Cyprus was jealous of him and felt insecure, fearing that he'd take his place eventually. He had arranged the whole thing to oust him.

My conclusion on that one would be: always stick to your ethics, no matter what others are pressuring you to do...

Have you ever been backstabbed? How did you react?
It''s Never Too Late, Trust Me
Estimated reading time: 1'30

Estimated reading time: 1'30

I met Liaf while waiting in line at a bakery in Stockholm, Sweden. He advised me which cake to take (you know how french people can be fussy about their desserts!).

"- My name is Liaf, it is a Norwegian viking name , it means "son of the lion" in Arabic. 

I used to be involved in Journalism, traveling the world (incl. the USA, Portugal, Tanzania, Cap Verde...) and meeting some of the most influential people in the political and entertainment scene, particularly in the States. At some point, I was approached by the CIA to become an agent, but I refused.

- Cool, I am also in the journalistic field, I said.

- Do you want to become the next Brandon Stanton?

- No, I want to be the first Helene Clabecq. 

- Trust me, it's never too late to start. 

I've had a rich life full of adventure, but at 69 years-old, I got a stroke and had a choice to make: either be old and scared, or do something about my mental and physical health. 

Obviously, I wasn't gonna let myself die. At the time, my daughter was taking a degree as a Pedagogue, and since the teacher seemed to push all the work and supervision to parents, I decided that I might as well study for that diploma too. I got it at age 72, aside to studying gender equity. Shortly after, I started a travel agency for seniors, and took 2500 of them to Portugal".

I expressed my awe.

"69 is the middle of life, it's nothing impressive! You need to take care of your "cabeza*" or you will slowly die"

This discussion reminded me that we are the ones setting limits to ourselves. Not only it is never too late to reach for our goals, but most of the so-called obstacles that we think stop us, are just excuses we give ourselves.

The sky is the limit.

_______

* "Head" in Spanish

Do you set limits to yourself? Which one(s) are you going to get rid of today?
What Are You Working Hard For?
Estimated reading time: 2'20

Estimated reading time: 2'20

Last Friday night, I stumbled upon an old friend in a bar in Stockholm. It was quite a surprise because he hasn’t gone out much since he’s had children.

In Sweden, having children is a much smoother process than in many other parts of the world. As a parent, you get plenty of paid time off (480 days per child at 80–100% of your salary, to be precise), you get to work from home, finish earlier, etc, so you can fully relax and embrace parenthood.

Being myself in my late 20s, more and more of my friends are having families, and I’ve heard a few times that before you have children, you had better enjoy going out and travel as much as you can. So unsurprisingly, my first question was:

"- Don’t you miss this life, though?

- Not really, actually I can’t wait to go home".

Oh, OK. As I tried to not take this comment personally, he continued.

"- It’s fun going out, but I’ve had my time. I used to party a lot, be selfish, go after the money, buy things like clothes and cars for my own pleasure. But I didn’t know what I was working hard for, I had no purpose. Now I do.

- It sounds like you were a zombie and woke up from the dead!

- Yeah, pretty much. One day, my girlfriend brought me a napkin on which was written “Baby onboard”. I didn’t get why she showed me that at first since we weren’t trying to conceive, but once I understood she was carrying my child, I was over the moon. That day, it felt like God came to me and said: “Burre, from now on, you are a different person”. And I became a better person.

I started to treat my girlfriend like a princess. I wanted to know how she was doing, what she was thinking about at any time, I had to make sure that she was safe, that the baby was safe. And whatever we used to fight about did not matter anymore. There’s been a switch: I now have a purpose, I know why I wake up in the morning, why I work hard. My family is everything for me and I’d do anything for them.

There’s just no way to describe the feeling you have when you hold your baby for the first time and he looks at you in the eyes. And when your child smiles at you, it is the best sensation in the world. This is when life begins.

It is interesting to see that, when you have not experienced this, you think that your life will end. But when you are on the other side, it begins. it’s just different chapters.

- I can’t wait for you to have your own, you’ll understand, ended Burre, confident. 

- I will… One day. But first, more parties and more traveling :)".

 

Being Accepted Isn't Your Life Mission
Estimated reading time: 3'

Estimated reading time: 3'

It is commonly known that Swedish people (in particular those from Stockholm) are referred to as “cold” or “not easy to approach”. Having lived there myself for 5 years, I have noticed that compared to other countries, they are indeed not very keen on small talk nor having any sort of interactions with strangers. Just google “waiting for the bus like a Swede” to see for yourself (and crack a smile).

That’s anyways where Patrick grew up. A couple weeks ago, he spent a weekend with his cousin in Copenhagen, and went out to a bar. Despite being originally “hungover, tired, and not in a party mood”, he ended up spending one of the best evenings of his life.

"We went out, had a few drinks, no more than usual, and started to talk to random people sitting next to us, also Swedish. 

First, a guy asked us if the seat next to us was taken, I said “Sure, as long as you turn your back at us and do not talk to us!”, half joking. 

Another one asked to smell my cousin’s drink, and he let her take a sip, which he’d never usually suggest. We all ended up talking for 5 hours until the place closed down, then headed to a club and let loose on the dance floor until it closed at the break of dawn.

It was all a coincidence, everything was just smooth from the taste of the food, to conversations, to the music..."

But was is really just a coincidence? Why did he completely let loose with strangers, for once?

"I just felt a connection with other people I haven’t felt in a long time. I didn’t feel the need to impress, and was 100% myself. I used to convince myself that I did not enjoy meeting new people, because fear was taking over. What if they did not like me? It would have reflected my own low self-esteem. That night, I figured that I had it all wrong. I used to see “being accepted & being special” as my life’s mission, until I accepted that other people’s expectations, opinions and wills were theirs, not mine.

I originally understood this after studying Biocentrism*, which gave me a clear understanding of life, our purpose and relationships. As soon as you stop trying to please everyone, you become your own boss. I feel good about myself now, which means that I can BE myself, and consequently, others can also appreciate my personality, which was confirmed that night. I felt a flush of satisfaction and pride the next morning, which led me to want to start being more social, open, travel more, change my business and do something with my life. Live it to the fullest so to speak".

Living in a society where people have to be someone special, do something special, live to expectations, seems to have a heavy impact on people’s self-confidence in social environments, in particular in Stockholm, according to Patrick’s experience... It made it harder for him to open up and make new acquaintances. But the cocktail of those 3 things seem to do the trick:

  • Having a special connection

  • Letting go of social fears (being abroad, where nobody knows you & you can reinvent yourself, helps, as well as alcohol, the infamous social lubricant)

  • Topped with some background work on self-confidence

_

*NB: Biocentrism is a theory developed by the physiologist Robert Lanza that explains that life creates the Universe, is infinite, and that there are as many realities as there are people.