I read today on Twitter that you should have the last sentence of your novel finished before you have your first sentence. I think that’s true whenever I start to write. I know how it will end up, but i’s always the most difficult to begin.
So, now that you know you’re with me through the most difficult part, maybe we have made some sort of connection. The beginning, of anything, is always the toughest. You are in a transition phase. You’re learning. You don’t quite understand the people around you or the process that is required. It’s a lot like starting with a new team. What worked for one coach won’t work for another. And you’ll have a different assortment of teammates no matter where you go, especially different countries.
So in these cases, the most important quality a person can have is the ability to adapt.
I have learned this more than ever being overseas. If you are stuck in your ways, it’s easy for a coach and for your teammates to dismiss you as different and stubborn. It’s the person that is willing to change; that’s willing to work for a certain cause that maybe they don’t even believe in, that allows them to become one with the group they’re working with.
Today, we played our Cup Final against Brøndby IF… the team we play all the big games against. Before the match, for one of the first times since I’ve been here, they played the Danish National Anthem. Of course, a national anthem from a different country won’t resonate the same as the one from your own, but today I felt something when it was playing. I felt a sense of pride for the country of Denmark and its people. I saw my teammates and the opposing team taking great pride in singing the national anthem, and although I’m not Danish, I’ve been so immersed in the culture and its people that I felt I was allowed to feel the same way.
During the Cup Final, which we lost in the 92nd minute 3-2, I felt what it meant to play for Fortuna Hjørring in a way that I hadn’t before. I had been so interested in the results (win or loss) that I forgot how much pride we had in our club. How much respect I had for my teammates and my coaches and how much love I have for the game. It was one of those things that passes by you so fast, that you almost don’t even get to enjoy it. But for a split second during the national anthem, I thought to myself, “wow, this is awesome…” and I almost felt as if I was Danish for a few minutes.
Being over seas for the past few years hasn’t been an easy road. It’s difficult when you don’t understand the language, and sometimes the culture can be vastly different from what you’re used to. The most important thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong way to live your life. The way the Danes do something compared to the way the Americans do it isn’t right or wrong, it’s just different. And that’s something I’ve come to understand with trial and error. But something that will be relevant to so many aspects of my life.
What I’m trying to say here is this – there will be so many people in your life that will have different opinions, different ways of winning, different ways of making a grilled cheese, or different ways of getting to and from the grocery store, it doesn’t mean that one way is right or wrong, all it means is that you should consider their way. You might not ever use it, or understand it, but as soon as you consider it, then you have shown that you have an open mind. It shows that you’re not stuck in your own personal ways and habits. It shows that you are willing to grow and be bigger than the “I’m always right” attitude that so many of us have.
I’ll be honest, before I came here, I had that attitude a lot. I just thought my way was better than most. But it’s not true and it’s never going to be true. There is so much to learn from other people and cultures. And I am so glad that I have had the opportunity to experience something so different from the American culture.
It’s been a little over a year since I’ve been a regular member of the Danish society, (yes, I eat hot dogs and roast bread over an open fire). I can say with a sincere heart that this is my second home. I feel that I’m apart of this country in a way that if I left, they would miss the hell out of me no, but I would miss the hell out of this country.
This reminds me of one of my favorite song quotes of all time from Third Eye Blind (Motorcycle Driveby)
“I hope you take a piece of me with you”
Denmark, I will take more than a piece with me. And in hopes that I will be returning in the fall, I’ll get to have even more. But for now, the piece I have is so big, that my heart is nearly full. It’s a part of me that won’t ever go away because it’s changed me in a way that can’t ever be undone. And to be honest, I don’t want it to be undone.
The new me has Denmark to thank. And truly, I’ll be forever thankful.
“For Altid” (forever in Danish)