I just found out a friend of mine from high school is pregnant.

She’s having a baby.

[pause for stunned silence] 

This is someone I’m not in contact with that much any more, but there is still something special about someone you spent so much time with (and who is your age) having a baby. This is the first of my friends to take that step and it feels so strange (and if it feels strange for me, I can’t imagine how it must feel for her!)

I won’t lie and say it doesn’t feel a bit melancholy for me. I’m a firm believer in “women don’t need a partner to have a complete life” but I do want children, quite badly.
A dear friend of mine and I always joke about the fact that we can’t spend any time working in cafés because we just look at the babies instead.

At the same time, I’m a logical person. I realize I won’t have children for at least five or ten years, least of all because I don’t have a partner to have these children with.

And what would I do with a child now, anyway? I’m still in school, I don’t have a job…

As things are now, my friend’s life is very far from my own.
And damn it all to hell, if that doesn’t make me a bit jealous.

It’s my birthday tomorrow. I turn 24.

There’s nothing remarkable about that really. I can’t say whether it’s me or the Swede in me that feels a little disgusted at drawing attention to it. We jokingly say about Swedes that that they’re modest to a fault, and that to stick out and draw too much attention to yourself is wrong.
That may be. 

In any case, pointing out that it’s my birthday, holding a celebration, even writing this blog post; is it self-absorbed of me? Or simply human? I’m not really sure. The truth is that I look forward to it. I get to spend it with my family, and with my brother, whom I haven’t celebrated a birthday with in a few years; something that always feels wrong to a soul as sentimental as mine. I’m not sure about my brother, he doesn’t articulate things like that. I look forward to celebrating with my friends, especially those I don’t see very often.

Most of all, I think it’s that very basic human need of being remembered that having a birthday satisfies. “We love, to learn we are not alone.” as CS Lewis wrote.

 

 

I’m a classical introvert.

No one ever believes me when I tell them that, and indeed, I didn’t believe it the first time someone told me I was an introvert either.

‘Introvert’ has been the year’s buzzword, in my opinion, after the publication of several books on the topic, most notably Susan Cain’s “Quiet”.

Introverts, we are taught, get energy from being alone. Extroverts get energy from being around people. Introverts are drained of energy when around people and need time alone to recuperate.

Those are really the only definitions of introversion/extroversion. There are a number of traits that are often applied to introverts though, that they’re shy, not very talkative, don’t enjoy physical contact, making speeches, don’t have a huge circle of friends but rather a few close ones and a host of others.

Which is true of many, many introverts.

But not me. I’m very (some say too much!) talkative.

I have a fairly large number of people I consider close friends.
I’m an excellent public speaker.
I always speak with cashiers (and have no trouble speaking with people I don’t know)

 

But I’m so extremely introverted in other ways. We recently went on a trip abroad with my master program, and after 4 days away, I needed a week to catch up with myself. It’s kinda like a hangover, I’ve overdone the socializing and will feel bad for a little while.

I don’t particularly enjoy clubbing.  Give me a nice dinner any day.

I loathe mingles (but I do them rather well. But not for longer than an hour or two)

I love having friends over but I have no qualms about telling them to go home after a while. (which is rude, I know)

However, what my point is, is that introverts usually enjoy spending time with people. I know I do. I love people. I love meeting new ones. But it needs to be in limited doses. Just because I sit down for a while and don’t say anything doesn’t mean I’m sad. I just need a break.

It’s something I need to learn how to balance in my coming work-life, and something that’s always good to reflect on. How do you get energy? Do you get energy from the same things that make you happy?

And the need to be alone isn’t the same as wanting to be lonely. Loneliness is awful and isolating.

 

 

Something that I’ve kept very quiet about up until… Well, this year, is my love of dance and especially ballet.

I really truly adore to dance.

The only problem is that I’m extremely bad at it. As in, falling over my own two feet in a normal aerobics class bad. And I’ve felt like to even mentioned my interest to other people was to infringe on the art of dance.

Well, I don’t know what happened, but this summer I finally decided that wasn’t going to stop me anymore, and signed up for a beginner ballet class.

I’ve now completed about half of my first semester and I have some reflections about it.

 

Many of the “worries” I had before I started have been realized.
I really really don’t have any natural predisposition for ballet.
I have weirdly aligned hips, so I’m knock-kneed and have extremely little natural turnout.
And very little coordination. It’s actually the reason it took me so long to learn how to drive, I kept getting confused when I had to drive (do physical things) and keep an eye on the traffic at the same time.
I’m not unmusical, per se, (I am a singer, after all) but I don’t have much sense for rhythm either. If I don’t count obsessively, I get super lost.

And don’t get me started on flexibility. Right now my biggest problem is my back that prevents me from doing other streches properly.

Part of me had hoped that I’d just imagined all that, and I’d just be a natural. We have some people in my classes, they just have amazing turnout, great postures (skinny!) and it can make me so jealous sometimes.

BUT (and this is the big but)

God HOW I try. It’s extremely tiring working against my body all the time, essentially, but there are few times I’m more focused than when I’m in class. And if I hadn’t read beforehand that corrections are a good thing I’d probably be crying after every class, because it seems I can’t do ANYTHING right, the way the teacher keeps correcting me.
And I’ve done so many releves that I’ve overworked the muscles in my right foot (my weaker foot) because my body simply isn’y used to it.

And it makes me wonder why I love this strange artform so much, when there’s nothing in it that suits me, really.

But I DO love it.
I thought that maybe once I started class, I’d realize it was a temporary crush or something. But even when I get so frustrated because I can’t even get my heels to touch in first, whenever I get out of class, I feel a little bit lighter.

I just adore it. All of it. I want to know and learn everything. Oh, I can’t describe it; it’s like there’s a hole in me that I wanna fill with all the knowledge and I just wanna fit all the puzzle pieces together.

I didn’t really have a point, I sort of just wanted to preserve these thoughts for myself.

Back to studying.

I saw the Stockholm production of Cabaret in Stockholm when it ran at Tyrol with Peter Jöback and it was an amazing production, mostly because of the remarkable performance by Peter Jöback as the Emcee.

Little did I know that he was not the revolutionary behind that performance, but rather one of my favorite actors, Alan Cumming.

So for some serious feels, and to see how musical theatre is MUCH more than just entertainment (which I might do a post about sometime) watch the ending of the Broadway run of Cabaret (not sure if this is the 1998 revival or the new one that’s coming) with Alan Cumming in the main role.

PS be sure to watch the last 20 seconds or else you miss something quite special.

Sometimes when you’re on a roll, you just gotta keep writing.

So… The 5:2 diet is very popular in Sweden at the moment.

It’s the one where you eat whatever you want five days a week and starve yourself the remaining two days.

Maybe you can tell I don’t think it’s a good idea?

Especially not when I’m starting to see a LOT of articles about what you can do to keep yourself from feeling hungry, how to make each meal last, how to eat slower, etc,etc,etc.
I don’t think publishing a how-to-guide about eating disorders in the papers is a good way to go.

(I don’t care if you think that periodic fasting is good and how wonderful it is for the body, ladila… It’s the culture around it that’s AWFUL.)

And if I read one more article about how VERY thin celebrities “don’t starve themselves but simply eat healthy and exercise” I’m going to scream.

Grad school is fabulous but busy busy busy. I have so many things I want to write and think about but I haven’t got the time.

I was at a CEMS mingle tonight and I met some very interesting people and had some great conversations. I’m not a fan of mingles, introvert that I am, but as far as those things go, this was a good one.

I’m very ashamed of something though.

During a conversation with a man whose passion was Borneo and orangutangs and the environment, I mentioned that I’m really interested in feminism.

Except I didn’t say that.

I said that I was really interested in gender equality.

Because I wanted to be taken seriously and not face all the crap that feminism gets. All the crap you get when you say you’re a feminist.

The crap I want to fight and that I’m playing right into by not allowing myself to use the word feminism.

It was a conscious/unconscious decision on my part, I did it on purpose, but too quickly for my brain to analyze the implications of why I wasn’t using the word feminism.

I also think part of it was that I was talking to a man, and it’s incredibly rare that a man takes you seriously if you mention the word feminism.

Well. Fuck you patriarchy. From now on I’m always gonna say I’m a feminist. Not more dilly-dallying.

I go back to school in 16 days (if I pass my accounting exam, knock on wood.)

Or rather, I start school in 16 days. I’m done with my bachelor’s degree and am starting my master’s. I do intend to write a longer post later, to sum up my first four years at SSE, but I do need to study some more before that.

It feels strange to start though (and to go back.) It’s been a very tough couple of years and sometimes I wonder what I’ve learned, really. Did I accomplish everything I though I would when I started college?
(Nope.)

At the same time, it’s exciting. The thought of new challenges. Travels. New people. It’s also a comfort to know not everything will be new, there are people I know, I know the buildings, where to eat lunch, all those things that take up energy if you don’t know them.

The program I will attend is a completely new one. We don’t know how it’s going to be. While SSE is lovely in many ways, administration isn’t always great and we’ve yet to see if they’ve managed to do well for once. I hope so, because we’re so excited to start.

Even though it’s been more than 6 years since I lived in Michigan, USA, it still affects me very much.

I had reason to think about it today, when I read a blog post by Emma Stenström, former Dean of Undergraduate Studies at my university, and also a fabulous teacher in management. During her time as Dean, she has been the staunch supporter for student rights, the natural person to turn to when something was not right with the education, and it is a great pity to see her leave that post.

Coming back to the topic at hand, she blogs about her son’s high school exchange in a very conservative part of Kansas. About being forced to attend church, about how all democrats should be shot, about guns and heaps of other things unthinkable to me as a liberal.

I was very lucky in that while I certainly met very many conservatives like that during my stay in the US, my community was not that way to the core. While my host family certainly are much more conservative and “tradition-minded” than my family at home, they did (and do) love me. I love them. Even when we disagreed on a great many subjects, I never felt repressed or forced to change my views.
I also had many friends who were very religious, pro-life and several who didn’t believe in the evolution.

While it is difficult for me to understand how they think that, we had no problem being friends. They respected my views (that I didn’t agree with them!) and I respect theirs.

A great help in keeping me anchored was my AP US History teacher, Mr. Lopo. While any conservative American would find him a liberal nutjob, (and truth be told, he WAS a bit weird) he was also someone who forced his students to think and defend their opinions. Who wasn’t afraid to speak of worrying movements in the US then and now. Someone who didn’t put up with bullshit. Someone who wouldn’t keep silent. I think if I hadn’t gotten his perspective on the US to balance the other ones out, I would’ve gone crazy. He kept me rooted in the fact that my beliefs weren’t crazy, they were rational and good.

And he also convinced me about the madness of Americans, but in a way that makes it possible for me to understand American politics much better. He reminded me that even though there are so many nutters in the US, there are some fantastic thinkers too.

That means I can look back on my stay in the US and say it was only benefical for me. I learned about other people’s views and in turn, refined and honed my own.