sverige i januari

There is a real phenomenon called "Santa Barbara Syndrome."

It's this affliction that can come over some people who live there for awhile... First, they find that life in that town is so very very lovely. The city is set where the mountains slope down to the beaches, and cradles itself around a picturesque harbor. The downtown is beautiful and happening, there are endless fun cultural activities and events going on, and plenty of great restaurants and sports leagues and social clubs to keep you busy. And the weather, for most of the year, is perfectly sunny and comfortable.
So, you stay there. You settle in. And for some people, those afflicted by "SBS", settle too much. The contentment with lovely Santa Barbara turns into a bit of hedonic laziness. They stay stagnant in their careers, even if they know moving on would be the best move, since to do so might take them away from the town. They don't try to establish regular adult milestones like buying a home, since it's so monumentally expensive there that they might as well keep putting it off. And they don't move forward in their relationships if it means taking them away from town, or committing, because it's Santa Barbara and why would you leave for someone else? or why would you pick one person if the next will likely be as pretty as the last?
No one is required in life to build a big career and buy houses... but it's the stagnance that is the issue with SBS.

I wouldn't say I was afflicted with SBS. And I definitely was surrounded by friends who were appreciating Santa Barbara to the fullest while still getting big promotions in their jobs, starting their own businesses, buying apartments, getting married, and starting families. But I'd known for quite awhile that I was likely going to need to leave that town I adored, a place of, relatively, eternal summer so that I could move into a new season myself before Santa Barbara Syndrome really came upon me.

So what does this have to do with Sweden in January?

Well, to be honest, I didn't like Sweden in January. Did not like. It was winter without the payoff of the beautiful snow from December, and yet still too far from spring. Lund was wet and damp and icy and so so grey. Many people got away to fun ski or sun vacations to make do with the bitterness of winter, and I couldn't. I try to get outside for an exploratory walk a few times a week, and the other day I'd walked myself away from central Lund, trying to get out to an open field or something, but just found myself out around a nasty boring industrial area, and I was so tired of grey skies and feeling so trapped by the temperature and the lack of sunny scenery that I actually stomped my foot in frustration because I missed my walks along the gorgeous beach in Santa Barbara so much. I stomped my foot like a five year old. Very mature.

So I kept walking and I thought again about how I couldn't have stayed doing what I was doing in Santa Barbara forever, that I needed a new season, and becoming a student again, in this faraway foreign place, a place that has actual seasons, has challenged me more in six months than I had been in a handful of years previous. I can forgive this January for that, absolutely.

A month after I decided to apply for graduate school here, I read a book with a million wonderful quotes that were so personally timely and relevant, but this was one of the main ones...

"It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change...
I want to repeat one word for you:
Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn't it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don't worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed."
-Donald Miller

To summarize, "leave, be strong, don't worry, you will change for the better." Done.

***Okay, January wasn't so bad every day... on the first day of the year, I went to the beach and walked on the frozen ocean. It was amazing. Behold:


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