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.