On this day in 2013 I arrived in Berlin not knowing what I was getting myself into. I was nervous, but at the same time I had high expectations. “If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere”, I thought. The butterflies in my stomach were dancing wildly – but here I was. In Berlin! Ready to live my dream.
Expectations can be hard to live up to, and I had lots of them. One of the biggest was my belief I would find my “true calling” in Berlin. A mysterious assignment was waiting for me to discover it. All the gifts within would get unveiled and I’d finally be able to start using them.
I wanted to become an artist. Not a painter (wouldn’t mind painting though), but a generally artistic and creative person. I would pursue art. In some way… And thus find my calling. Just like that. And get well paid for my work. Easy-peasy.
A Book – No, Screenplay! – No, Novel…
In Berlin I would start writing, that was something I was very sure of. I was going to write about my journey, but I didn’t know yet where it would end. As I began to outline my story fear hit me hard in the chest.
Who would ever be interested in what I have to say? Who would want to read my story? How the hell was I even going to complete such a task? I didn’t know the first thing about writing.
Well, I had taken some classes. Quite a few actually. I took some more at Raindance in Berlin, learned how to write a feature film and for TV. In 2017 I finalised my bachelor degree in drama, theatre and film. It had been 20 years in the making, and when I held the certificate in my hand I cried. Who would have thought…
But I couldn’t write. Nononononono! For these past 5 years I have struggled to write, and when I finally found the flow I realised my bank account was almost empty.
Different Place, Same Situation
When you realise you have ended up in the same situation you once tried to get out of, pride isn’t the first feeling you feel. I left Sweden unemployed, and I was sick and tired of never having a stable income. As a result I didn’t fear the instability in Berlin, but I didn’t want to end up unemployed here as well.
I haven’t been without work, but some of the things I’ve done have bored me to tears. In order to earn more you have to stay disciplined 8 hours a day, which isn’t my strongest suit. I’m not made for repetitive assignments. Up to a point, yes, but my brain needs challenges. I can’t really complain though. I have been extremely lucky. Friends have helped me out, and I have learnt how to accept help from others, so maybe I’m not in the same spot after all.
Starting A New Life Takes Guts
Berlin has been immensely generous to me. People have been looking out for me, giving me furniture and clothes, inviting me to concerts, the opera, to parties, lending me money, lending me an ear or two, buying me coffee and cake, taking me to the cinema, to other parts of Berlin and to other places. They’ve been supporting me, cheering me on, teaching me new things, sharing experiences. Many old friends in Sweden have supported me too.
For 5 years I have been struggling, listening, learning, misunderstanding, singing, filling in endless forms, printing copies, sending letters, queuing, drinking beer, learning to use cash again, handling late night anxiety attacks, getting the cat to the vet, searching, googling, photographing, finding favourite street corners, cafés, restaurants, art galleries, shops and parks.
I’ve gotten to know a new country, new city, new friends, new language, new jobs, new financial system, new prices, new work market, new society, new way of life, new food, new art, new housing, new fears, new neighbours, and the new me. My strength, my loneliness, my longing, my passion, my intuition, my good sides and my bad sides.
Five adventurous, boring, lonely, challenging, wonderful, fulfilling, exciting, difficult, easy, different, funny, loving years, and I wonder where I’ll go from here?