Tuesday, 12 April 2016

J is for "Just right"

In Swedish we have a word, a very special one. Lagom. It's a word hard to translate in a way that makes good sense. "Just right" comes close, but can't (in my opinion) capture it wholly.

Lagom means to not stand out. Not eat too much, but not to little. Not being too tall, but not too short. Not wear strange clothing but still not copy everyone else. And so on. Just enough different to be a bit personal, but not different enough to make people turn their heads.

Swedes are supposed to be lagom. At least that was the norm when I grew up. It has changed a bit, now we also want to be best, first, biggest and loudest. Everyone think they can be the new Zlatan or the next winner of Idol, and no one bothers to dream about having an ordinary job.

I admit I'm ambivalent to this. Of course we should let the children dream, tell them that everything is possible, that they can be whatever they want when they grow up. But that has shaped almost a full generation with unrealistic plans for the future. There's not enough students who want to become teachers, nurses or cooks. They want to be moviestars, professional athletes and famous. With no thought of that a society can't function without all those doing the work that's unseen and unthought of.

Maybe that's the idea about lagom. Not to crush dreams, but temper them with realism.

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