If I could live anywhere…


I want to move to Sweden before I turn 27. I am 24 right now. I don’t have a job, neither here in Germany, nor, of course, in Sweden. I have not yet looked into the details of what emigration to Sweden might mean (I’m talking work and residence permits, insurance issues, tax and social security stuff both there and in Germany) and I have not saved up any money. I am also still far from being fluent in Swedish. In other words, I am not ready to move there right now – not at all. This is why I’m giving myself three years to plan and prepare.

Today, this is all I have: my love for Sweden and the irrepressible urge to live there. (Reasons should be fairly obvious by now. Feel free to browse this blog and read future posts, and you’ll know what I love most about Sweden.) When I think of what I want my life to look like 5 or 10 years from now, the only thing I’m certain about is that I want to live in Sweden. There will be setbacks and complications and everyday life in Sweden won’t be as magical as spending half a year there as a student. I know these things. I still think life in Sweden would be a better base for me to become happy than life in Germany (or anywhere else), and I’ve thought so for two years now. So I’m going to take that step.

My plans may change again between now and 2015, of course. I couldn’t possibly say whether or not I will still feel that strong urge to be in Sweden three years from now. But I always do things on a whim; I wait until I feel like it and take action only then; I hesitate and don’t see the point of planning ahead; I’m scared of setting goals because it means risking failure. This time, I want things to be different.

I’m going to leave you with one of my favorite Swedish words: glansdagar, meaning glory days. Let’s just say that’s very fitting for my plans and ignore the risk of failure, alright?

If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?

(Graphic source: Marcus Eriksson)

Hello October

I’m turning 24 years old this month. Today I applied for unemployment benefits from the German government. This is a low point of my life; the lowest, hopefully.

I didn’t expect to get here – ever, to be honest. Certainly not right out of school. I had an appointment at the social services agency today and when the guy mentioned food stamps, I thought: this can’t be. I did everything right, I wanted to yell at him. I got good grades. I went abroad and skipped eleventh grade. I finished uni in three years, even though it was hard. I got an amazing internship right after that. There are no flaws here, I wanted to yell. And then my mind spun onward, to things that have less merit than they should: I’ve never done drugs or caused an accident. I am kind to people. All I want is to make enough money to pay my own bills and unburden my family. I am a good person, I wanted to yell. This isn’t fair.

But I don’t know. Something always magically worked out for me before it was too late. And this time it just didn’t. I’ve been spoiled by lucky circumstances and good fortune and kind people, and I never learned how to pull myself up by my own bootstraps and affect – or even care about – my own destiny. I’m lazy by nature. Indecisive and insecure. So aside from having made some poor decisions along the way (taking up student loans instead of working, getting a degree in Holland that is not exactly appreciated in Germany…) – aside from that, it’s mostly my own failure to truly do everything I could have that has brought me here. Yes, The Media is a tricky field to get into. Yes, entry-level positions for Bachelors of Art are few and far between. Yes, it’s normal that the transition from student to full-time employee is a bumpy road. Yes. But I have had a year now to find a real job, and it’s because of how little I have actually committed to it that I’m still unemployed.

Sometimes I feel like it’s never going to be good enough. There’s always going to be someone who’s a better fit for any job; with better grades and more work experience, smarter and more out-going, with whiter teeth and a more creative cover letter. I don’t know how to be that person who outdoes everyone else. I don’t have that ambition within me, and I don’t know how to force it. I lack motivation – still, even at the mention of food stamps and the social worker’s warning that “the State will get seriously involved in my life now that I’ve applied for benefits.”

So hello October. You’ve always been a favorite of mine. Maybe you can be nicer to me than this summer has been. Maybe all your delights can make me be… better than I have been at what I need to do most right now. Maybe next October I can come back to this and smile because it turned out to be just one of those things I thought I could never do, but did.

(Images: yourwildeyes)

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case you fail by default.

— J.K. Rowling