things that swedes have said.

When I got back to Sweden  this summer, I wrote that instead of just writing on this page about what I do and what I see, "I actually would rather attempt to reveal the complex and endearing nature of the Swedish heart and mind."
I meant it. The Swedish hearts and minds are what I fell for long before I came to this country and fell for anything else about it.

I read anything that's out there about foreign opinions on Swedes and Sweden. I have been for years. To some people, Swedes seem cold. They seem unemotional. They are hard to get to know, and it takes years to go deeper with them. And Swedes sometimes even say themselves that they are, relatively, a less 'colorful' bunch... too humble, reserved, and not passionate enough. And others sometimes say that about them too.

To me, some of those things aren't accurate. And the other things aren't really straightforwardly true. There's more to Swedes than is said by almost anything I can find on the subject.

I'll just share some quotes from Swedes, almost always word for word, from the past 6 months. These are things that were said in English, a few of them to me, some to someone else and then retold to me, and some to someone in front of me. Funny things, revealing things, sweet things, things that others may not like, emotionally wrenching things... a little glimpse at the Swedish heart and mind for you.

On life:

 "It's okay that you aren't the one with the answers right now. You don't always have to be. It's okay that you're the one going to your friends to ask the questions."

"Just turn things around. Thing about them in a positive way. You GET to do this fun thing, not, awww, this FUN thing is going to cost so much money. You have to try to not be so pessimistic."

"Don't buy an apartment. Just wait. You'll probably have a boyfriend by the end of the year and then you can just buy one together."

"It just would be so great for a company to hire me! I'm so ready to work, I have so many ideas and so much energy...I have so much to give!"

"I'm so bad at promoting myself. I'm confident but I can't tell someone why they should hire me."

"Is there any difference between going away on a trip with Swedish colleagues and American colleagues? Do you feel like it's as easy to bond with people in Sweden?"

"I think my company really values me. I think they see a good future for me there. That feels really good."

"[the singer] Duffy said "I don't know what you do, but you do it well," and I guess, or well, I'm sure, that it applies to you!"

"I know what it means to kick ass at work. That's my goal. But I don't really understand what you mean with 'kick ass at life.' What is included in that, what does that mean?"

"Maybe I should feel left out if so many people I know are moving on to another stage in life and I'm not. Maybe I should. But for some reason, I don't. That's a good thing, I think. I'm happy."

"I feel behind. He already has a kid, and he already has a kid. But I'm not comparing myself..."

"So many people here know what their lives will look like in 5 years, in 10 years. But I don't, and I love that. I can't say where I will be or what I'll be doing. And I think that separates me a little bit from my friends here. They want their small social circles, their routine. I don't, and they don't always know how to handle that."

On relationships...

(said by girls)

"Everyone is lonely. Everyone wants to be with somebody in winter. It's dark and cold and time to cuddle."

"Honestly, he was SUCH a great guy. I called my friend in the morning explaining how he was he was good looking, 1,95 m tall, writing his thesis and working as some kind of consultant too, the coolest apartment, cool way of dressing, so sweet, but...BUT...
his voice was really gay!"

 "Yeah. I am single. And I'm looking...I don't want to go clubbing anymore."

"I think I'm falling in love. I never have before so I don't know what that looks like. But I think that I am."

"Just to be clear...mixed signals are the trendiest thing for guys of our generation it seems."

"He is a very feeling guy, and that is refreshing, he tells me he likes me and that might sound like a given...but it isn't for me."

"I fell for his mind. That's the sexiest thing to me. He's not so good-looking. But I had to marry him, because I loved his mind so much."

"I've always been pursued. I've never had to think much about if I wanted the guy deep down, because it's always been the guy pushing things, so I was able to decide early on since it was so obvious how they felt."

On relationships...

(said by guys)

"So then his girlfriend said, 'Why do you want me to move to Stockholm? Do you want me to be unhappy?? There are so many other things that I can do and places I can go!' And he said, 'Um... because I live here? And I want to spend time with you? I thought that would make us both happy?' "

"Guys in Sweden can't talk about feelings without having at least 5 drinks. That's why he is one of my best friends. He can talk about that stuff at any time. I can talk to him about anything, and I can't do that with our other friends."

"This is going to sound dumb, but I need to say it... if you ever needed anything... if anything was ever wrong or you needed help... I would be there. I would come to you as soon as I could. It would be the fastest taxi I would ever take."

"You can't give your love only to someone that will keep it safe. You can't ever know it will be safe. There's no guarantees for that."

"Are you sure you don't want to meet my brother instead? He's much better looking than me. Girls love him. Here's a photo. He's even blond. It's not too late."

"We've been texting a lot in the last week. I can't tell how interested she is. You know, I saw her, and I thought, she's so out of my league. When that happens, I get a little bit too excited. I don't know what you'll think, but here look at my phone, texts from today... I just texted her. But um... that was the 4th time in a row. I can't help it."

"No I disagree. She was in love. She gets an excuse. If you're in love you don't have to be held accountable to logic."

"This girl started telling us how she had her whole life all planned out. She's only 23, and she said that, by this age she'll move to Stockholm and start working, by this age she'll move back to her hometown, by this age she'll fall in love, by this age she'll get engaged, by this age she'll have a baby, etc. etc. Do all girls think like that? How can life be exciting if you plan out every step?"

"Once I found out that you were American I decided at first that I wouldn't try to flirt with you. I felt like it would be too hard to have to speak English."

"I appreciate having a girlfriend that I can talk to about more than, you know... the color of our hardwood floors."

"She's a nurse? Oh really? These guys and i were just discussing the other day how that profession is the sweet spot for a woman. That's what we're looking for. It hits just the right spot on the professionally ambitious but not-so-much-that-she's-crazy scale."

"I want to marry a girl who isn't obsessed with her career. Maybe a nurse or a teacher. Of course I want her to work. But what if I want to go work in London for a couple years? I'd want her to easily be able to come with me. "

"Deep down, we guys want to have a girl that thinks we are smart, that asks us for answers. It's hard to deal with a girl who is smart and beautiful, because we already have enough things to be insecure about. It's too much to deal with. It really isn't them, it's us, our problem."

[How long have you and your girlfriend lived together?] "Four years exactly." [How long have you guys been together?] "...four years... exactly."

"So we've been together 3 years now. And you know, we're moving in together this weekend. So that means that the next step, in awhile, is to get engaged. It's not that I don't want that with her, it's just that it's sort of scary. I mean if we don't think it will work in the long term, we should figure that out now. Right now is the crucial point."

"It's actually a really beautiful thing to say to someone, that you can't be in a relationship with them because they deserve more than you can give them right now... I know it's overused so it's cliche and people don't believe you. But when it's true, it's a really beautiful thought."


Really beautiful thought[s] indeed. Most of them. All really honest though.

I love you, Sweden.


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