Growing where I am and pissing off my racist relatives - some of my 2018 goals.

New Year's resolutions feel like a thing of the past. Just like people are giving up tobacco and meat at a rapid pace, it seems like people have started to think that New Year's resolutions are a force of evil more than anything else. I'm inclined to agree - I don't believe in resolutions or adding unnecessary stress and pressure. That said, I strongly believe in self-awareness and self-improvement, and most of my 2018 goals relate to this in particular. Here are three of my main goals for 2018.

Grow where you are
I live with a permanent state of wanderlust. I moved often as a child, and as soon as I finished sixth form I went on an eight year craze of moving countries and continents once a year. It was great, and exhausting. I've now lived in the same city and done the same job for 18 months and the itch has rarely been more real. I glance at Berlin, NYC, Copenhagen, even Stockholm. I look at my cat and wonder if I can fly him across the Atlantic. Yet, something's holding me back. The beauty of moving countries often is that you get bursts of intensity that become small chapters of your life. I lived the klub kid life in Berlin, the student life in Wales, the diplomat life in Uganda and the startup life in London. But not moving countries once a year enables you to grow in a different way. It gives you the chance to get to know yourself when you're not caught up in a recent or approaching move. It gives you the wonderful opportunity to grow where you are.

What does growing where you are look like? Exploring your city and its surroundings, joining (or setting up) a book club, developing an events calendar, pursuing side projects, developing D&M relationships, establishing ambitious goals and finding an accountability partner to help you reach them. Finding the quirky and exciting things about wherever you might be, and enjoying them to the fullest. And so on.

Growing where I am. Here with friend, colleague and collaborator  Emilio .

Growing where I am. Here with friend, colleague and collaborator Emilio.

Reminder to self.

Reminder to self.

We should all be Mirandas
We have a lot to thank SATC for, but we can probably all agree that Miranda is the only character to pass any form of sanity test, from a feminist perspective or otherwise. Not once did she miss the opportunity to stand up for herself or her mates, nor did she avoid challenging stuff like socio-economic class in contemporary America, or societal norms around women and babies /  men / mortgages. And something I personally admire, she fucked people off by telling them that "he's just not that into you" when he clearly wasn't. For some reason people still don't seem to understand when this is true in their own lives.

We can all be more Miranda-y. In my case it's not keeping my mouth shut when my racist relatives go off on a tirade. It's making the committed effort to encourage women to get out there, particularly those younger than me. It's calling out people who ask me if I'm concerned about my biological clock (yes, apparently people do ask this - I'm just as baffled as you). It's seemingly small things like making sure we have a roughly equal number of men and women in the content we publish at work, whether through earned or owned media. It's calling out BS as and when you see it, and making a concerted effort to not be part of it.


‘”Why the fuck not me?” should be your motto’
The older I get, the more I realise how far I've come with this. I think it's easy to look back at your achievements and say "ah, that was nothing", which is why I try to remember what my thoughts were prior to said achievement. Graduating from university is one such thing - loads of people do it, but as the first person in my family to finish high school, it was never a given I was even going to enrol. Lacking a sense of entitlement turned out to be a huge source of discipline and dedication at uni - but the flip side is that the same lack of entitlement runs the risk of throwing you into destructive cycles of self doubt. Self doubt isn't a bad thing per se - doubt yourself all you want, as long as it doesn't stop you from doing the stuff you want. Asking yourself "why the fuck not you?" might help you (and me) to avoid not doing stuff just because of self doubt.

The stillness of moving and shaking - a not-so-brief look at 2017

I say the same thing every year - "this has been a big year for me" - but somehow I look at each year and go, yeah, that was a big year for me. I consider myself very lucky to get to lead that life. Yet, this year has been different. For the first time ever (and yes, I do mean ever) I've explored stability, routines and traditions, and the wonders of being in the same place for a longer period of time than just a year.

Work stuff

  • My biggest restraint in 2017 has been time and not being able to see a way to scale myself. I've had to turn down a lot of stuff and put really exciting projects on hold due to a lack of time. At one point I considered hiring a freelancing student but realised quickly that that, too, would take a lot of time. I'm still figuring out how to structure my life - perhaps 2018 will make things clearer.
  • Being included in #Nordic100 as one of only two PRs is a highlight I'll remember for a long time coming - I'm neither senior nor blasé enough to say that those things don't matter. On the contrary, I'm still early on in my career and it often feels like I make stuff up as I go along, so having my work recognised by thought leaders like Slush and The Nordic Web is for me pretty major.
  • I've realised that the vast majority really don’t understand what PR is, how it works, and how it can help way beyond the odd placement. I've always thought I've known this (it was one of the first things my mentor instilled in me when we started working together) but this realisation has reached new heights in 2017. I'm hoping to spread the word about the wonders of PR in 2018.
Giving a talk at Sony on all things startup comms, December 2017.

Giving a talk at Sony on all things startup comms, December 2017.

Social life and relationships

  • Breaking up with my ex, and subsequently feeling very strongly and on a fundamental level that I never again want to be in a so-called romantic relationship, presented a huge buffet of learnings. I'm grateful for them all.
  • I've discovered the joys of conceptualising my life. I know some people think it's a bit odd to brand everything you do, but I find that it really helps, particularly in my social life. This year I've engaged in Kallisklubben, Frukostklubben, Skaparklubben and Bokklubben. They all provide format where we show up with an agenda, a reason and a format to discuss things that aren't work related (or, as one friend out it, baby and/or wedding related).
  • I feel like I've travelled a lot less this year than previous years, which says quite a lot. I've squeezed in trips to London, Texas, Palestine, Israel, Istanbul, Stockholm, Greece, Portugal, NYC, and I'm soon off to a secret location to finish off 2017 with one of my best friends. The majority of trips involved a lot of work, with might explain why they didn't exactly feel like holidays - because they weren't. Still, they've brought a huge source of inspiration. There's no way around it - travelling and meeting new people from around the world brings me a lot of energy.
  • I found that spending time with children teaches you a lot about yourself and how you think about life. Especially if said children happen to be those of the person you’re dating.
  • I lived up to the promise I made myself of never not doing stuff just because I'd have no one to do them with. Consequently I went to Israel and Palestine on my own and met fascinating people I otherwise wouldn't. I'd do it again in an instant. And I sort of am - I'm going to Bali on my own for a DIY surf and yoga retreat in just a couple of weeks.
  • I've discovered that in a time where everyone around me seems to get pregnant, engaged, married and all the rest of it, I'm so happy and content in my little one bedroom flat with Katten. Perhaps ironically, the thought of settling down has never seemed further away. 
Kallis, aka The Sanctuary.

Kallis, aka The Sanctuary.

Looking after myself

  • I ran two half maras, and only through grit and perseverance. I didn't enjoy it very much, and remember thinking when setting out on my second half mara that "well, now you're going to be running for-e-ver". That's what it felt like as well. Yet somehow, I think I'll do more in the future.
  • I saw a distinct pattern in my annual workout routine - I tend to be up and going in January, having started out strong already in December as to not feel like I'm part of the January New Year's Resolution crew. I usually manage to stick to it until summer, where it escalates - this summer I exercised 2-3 times a day (run, gym, tennis) and loved every bit of it. Once September hits and work starts picking up, I'm out. Next year I might start working with a PT as to not have to start from square one next Christmas (the way I have to this year).
  • I made a concerted and committed effort to take up therapy, and have for the better part of the year gone to weekly psychodynamic psychotherapy sessions. It hasn't turned out the way I thought it would, and probably for the better. I think I thought it'd be a means to an end, that it could help me fix me. But life isn't static, and I'm probably as fixed as can be. That said, my weekly sessions help me understand myself, in relation to myself and others - the good, the bad and the ugly. Like all rewarding processes, it's hard.
  • I've found that while I'm yet to meditate on a daily basis (or weekly, or monthly), I practice gratitude several times a week. Not necessarily intentionally - gratitude comes to me when I handpick avos at the grocery store, while at the gym, while walking along the bridge to Kallis, feeling the Malmö breeze across my face. It really is the seemingly small things that make me well up of gratitude. I try to actively recognise these feelings, and be grateful for them. Very meta, I know.
18 kilometres into my second ever half marathon. Feeling like death.

18 kilometres into my second ever half marathon. Feeling like death.

My biggest learnings

  • This was also the year of my feminist awakening. I've always called myself a feminist, but this year I became aware of patriarchal structures to a significantly greater extent, how they modify my own behaviour and my own expectations of other people depending on their gender. As a result, I try to apologise for less, speak up for more and encourage more women to claim more space. I credit people in my surroundings for this - Mina, Joel, Streetgäris, Jeanette, and, of course, all of us through #MeToo.
  • I've learnt about the wonders of time. I've seen friends go in and out of depression, burnouts and general shit times, and I'm very grateful to have seen firsthand that neither shit times nor good last forever. But again, life isn't static. Setbacks aren't permanent, neither is success. It sounds obvious and I've thought that I've known this, but I haven't.
  • This was also the year when I worked hard to stop giving a fuck, in order to care more about shit that really matters (yes, as ever, I'm paraphrasing Mark Manson). I've taken a long, hard look at the way my thoughts structure themselves and decided that I want to try and control them as opposed to having them control me. It's hard, and I think it will be a lifelong process. Spending time with people who have already mastered it helps.
  • I also discovered what it's like to forget to look at your phone for days on end - wonderful is what it is.
Not a phone in sight.

Not a phone in sight.

And finally... My best reads

  • A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara
    This is by far the best and most traumatising read I've ever experienced. It kept me up at night for weeks on end, and when I finally fell asleep I dreamt about the characters. I'll want to read it again at some point, but it will have to wait until a lot later in life - it's a demanding read, in time, energy, and thinking power. Highly recommend it, but not if you're in a fragile state.
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, by Mark Manson
    I've struggled with giving too much of a fuck all my life and I feel like I'm finally getting a handle on why. Obviously not just because of this book, it's been an ongoing process that has included many hours in therapy and even more discussions with friends and lovers, but I still think this book hits the nail on the head. What's more, it offers practical tools to help you check yourself when you give fucks that you probably shouldn't. It's a great book, and an easy read at that - really can't recommend it enough.
Not giving a fuck since 2017.

Not giving a fuck since 2017.

2017, you were great. You feel a little like a watershed year, or at least like you laid some sort of foundation for great things to come. 2018, bring it on.

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