I worry too much. About what People think. Of me.

I always assumed that this was blatantly clear in everything I do and say. In fact, I have routinely worried about this lack of coolness on my part.

Yet, a while ago, my cousin surprised me by stating that she would have never guessed that.

She and I are quite different – at least on the outside. I always admired her for having close to everything I lacked. Nevertheless, I have always thought that she understands me better than most. I still think so.

We were talking about childhood memories. About growing up and going to school and stuff like that. The conversation went something like this:

Me: I just never got it. I tried and tried, but I could never seem to get the hang of being like everyone else.

She: Really? You wanted to fit in? You tried? But you always seemed to me like that strong, independent kind of person who never cared about fashion and trends and what other people thought?

Me: Meh…

Well. I did try. Really, I did. Sort of. I thought I did.

I tried to the extend that I did worry about being an outsider. Worrying has to count for something, doesn’t it? No?

I worry. But mostly I leave it at that. I never get around to actually making the changes that would be required in order to fit into other people’s expectations. I guess I don’t want to. Even when I really want to.

I want to worry less. I have realized this at least a dozen times. Today I realized it again. The realization came to me while I was reading the blog of someone who sounds like a kindred spirit.

Her name is Andrea Heilskov. I don’t know her, and I am sure that we are quite different in many ways. For one thing I haven’t packed my stuff and left civilization behind to move out into the Swedish woods. Not yet.

After all someone told me not to – and I do worry about what People think of me. You know.

But Andrea Heilskov writes stuff on her blog that rings true with me. Like:

When I step off this train I will suddenly understand what everybody´s saying, I will know which bus to take, I will now how to walk, talk and act, see, you never forget the motherland, it´s in your backbone, something soothing, and sure, sometimes I miss it.

But I miss the forest more. Now.

The anxiety is in the transit and these thoughts occur:

What if I like being a mother, a wife, a northwoman, a forest lady- more than I like being a journalist, a speechgiver, someone succesful?

What about my feminism then? What about the money? What about freedom, liberation, independence- having a voice,  being HEARD!
What if I´m a radical homemaker? What if I´m of those “saved people” who has “real values”, what if I really stand for something, what if my ironic distance is failing me? What if I´m a hippie? What if I´m not who I used to be. Anymore.

Last time I posted something on this blog, I told how Aske and I had decided to divide the household chores unevenly between us. With him earning the money and me doing the shopping and cooking. It was an experiment. We both agreed that if we didn’t like this way of living – or stopped liking it after a while – we would do something else. Simple as that. There is always a way.

I was kind of happy and excited writing that blog posting. I felt very free and lucky to have a special someone in my life who was prepared to try out this somewhat outlandish way of living with me. I still think that it is a good deal. Aske is happy. I am happy. What’s not to like?

But my posting had only been online for a few hours when someone – a friend – wrote on my Facebook wall: “The housewife trap. You will not get out until you get a divorce.” She even meant well. She genuinely felt the need to warn me. She was speaking from experience.

Isn’t it only right and proper, that you should worry, when your friends worry about you?

My dad, too, has been hinting that this book project of mine has lasted for quite a while now. When will they see the book on the shelves of the book store? After all, the Danish state has generously granted me a fancy education. Shouldn’t I be using it? For something real and useful?

Alright. He didn’t actually hint this. He doesn’t hint. He pretty much just speaks his mind. Which is fine, really. Except that, sometimes, I don’t know how to answer. Then things get messy.

So I worry. And get a little mad. And hurt. And worry some more.

For a while I couldn’t make a choice between immediately posting several heartfelt blog posts on the joys of being independent and living a life that is truly your own (I am NOT a housewife, cooking is something I do – not who I am) …or never mention it again to anyone.

I thought that maybe I should just stick to telling about my results. You know. The real and useful ones. Even if I don’t necessarily consider those to be the most interesting aspect of my life.

In the end I didn’t post much of anything.

Other People have been very supportive and understanding. Sometimes they are so affirmative that it makes me worry. After all, I need to be sure that this is, in fact, what I want. And what if I change my mind? Would I disappoint these people, then?

It’s like that time when I first considered going to university and study German. It seemed like a good thing for me to do, but it worried me to know that this was exactly what my dad wanted me to do. Not that he is usually wrong (well, he often is, but that’s not the point). – It just seemed that this was a choice that I had to make on my own. And how can you claim to have done so, if all you ever did was follow the advice of someone else?

Besides: Doing your thing is really a lot more fun when you are sure that it is, indeed, your thing. Doing someone else’s thing is just not the same.

I guess, some would tell me to simply not care so much. – No, I am not guessing. Some have actually told me so, from time to time: Just be myself. Let everyone else say and think what they will.

These people are right of course. So very right. But I do care. In much the same way as I don’t believe in God. Except, of course, when I do. Either way it is not a choice. Acting on those feelings is a choice. Feeling is not.

Well. That is a lie. I could probably stop feeling, if I really wanted to. There is always a way. But I don’t want to.

There. I said it. I am to blame. I want this mess. I have always wanted it. Even when I don’t want it. And to make amends for my irrational lack of will to change my ways, I worry.

The bottom line is: I like my life at the moment. When I don’t worry. I like getting up early and knowing that I don’t really have to. I like sitting in a café, learning about InDesign or editing yet another interview for my book. I like rummaging the forest for blackberries or ramson, and I like cooking nice meals for Aske and myself. Sometimes I don’t want to cook, then we order out or just grab a sandwich. It is not hard.

I like spending a few days in Copenhagen, right now, because a chance offered itself. I don’t have to be somewhere else. I don’t have to negotiate taking the time off. I just do it.

I like not having a deadline. I work better and more effectively without one, so why bother?

I know that I am privileged to be able to do this. And I do appreciate it. – This I say, because sometimes People tell me that I should. Usually they manage to simultaneously make it clear that having so much to appreciate is kind of frivolous and – almost – a bit shameful. After all, not everyone can afford to simply choose a different life for themselves. I understand that. I do.

So I worry. About what People say. And what People might think. And while I worry about them, I try to live and humbly appreciate my life as it is.

Because I really like it.

And even when I really wish, I could – for once – just be like everyone else… You know: I don’t want it enough. I have never wanted it enough.


Photo credit: h.koppdelaney / Foter / CC BY-ND


  1. Pingback: What takes so long? | BraveYourLife

  2. Astrid

    :) :) :)

  3. Suna Kate Palsholm

    Så smukt Joan. Og jeg er ikke bekymret for dig overhovedet! Kh Suna

    • joan


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