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  • Mathilde Fongen

For a long time I thought I knew which boxes I fit into. Or rather "should" fit into. Introvert. Messy. NOT a morning person. I thought in order to be healthy, I needed to have meditation, yoga, running, salads, green juice and HIT be part of my every day, or at LEAST every week. (I mean, even writing that sentence was exhausting). Recently, I've felt myself zigzagging between feeling happy and content, and feeling anxious and depressed, asking "which one am I?"


Then I realised I can be both. It may seem obvious to some, or it may seem super contradictory, but to me this thought was a game changer.


It turns out I can be in the middle of the introvert / extrovert spectrum. I can be content and anxious, messy and organised, love both early mornings and sleeping in. I can have healthy meals and Dominos, days when I barely go outside, and days where I go for long walks and get plenty of exercise. There are seven days in a week and they do not need to look the same.


I used to find a box to sit in, only to find another box that also fit, so maybe a leg in each was the key? But then another box would appear and then another and I do not have enough limbs to hold onto every single box. I needed to build my own box and that one is large and vast and complex enough to hold all of me. A box where I can love both dogs and cats, drink tea and coffee, listen to McFly and Mastodon while journaling half in Norwegian, half in English and feeling at home and homesick all at once.


Until I was nearly twenty I even thought I had to choose between straight and gay. Then I discovered the word "Bisexual" and now I realise that was the start of me being authentically me, coming out as bi. I'd later discover that not needing to choose at all would apply to so many aspects of my life and leading to me feeling so much more at peace with who I am, what I need and how that changes from day to day.


One side of me does not cancel out the other and the word "should" can get f*****.


I shared these thoughts with a couple of friends who said it resonated with them, so here's me sharing just in case you needed to read this too. I sure did. Turns out I'm not just two sides of a page. I'm an origami crane that also looks like a dragon. And in certain light, a badass, bi, INFJ Taurus in her late twenties living her best life.


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  • Mathilde Fongen

Updated: Aug 18, 2021

High School movies are a guilty pleasure of mine. Or maybe just a pleasure, as I'm not sure I feel all that guilty about it. I especially love the ones where you know the whole story within five minutes or, even better, just by looking at the poster. There is one thing that always crosses my mind when I watch these films, and that is what I would do, who I would be, if I were a character in one of them.


My teens were like many people's teens, coloured by wanting to fit in, wanting to be cool, or wanting people to think you're cool because you don't try to be cool. That teenage need to be yourself when you have no idea who you are. The feeling that life will be over once you exit that building for the last time with grades you worried about too much and great expectations of what is to come.


I was a poet and a song writer, but unlike that main character in that teen drama, I was no protege. I didn't spend every waking moment writing and reading. I actually didn't enjoy reading that much until I was 13 and after that I read, and still read, very slowly. The books I read at that time, I hardly remember, because I was so distracted when I read them. I was more concerned with wanting to have read the book, rather than enjoying the experience of reading it.


What that quirky, nerdy girl in the movies always has is dedication. She's all consumed with whatever it is she is passionate about. As much as I think it's unhealthy to be all consumed by one thing, I do catch myself wondering what I could have achieved, if I had that dedication. What could I have experienced during my university years, had I been a more dedicated student? What could I have gone on to do? You never see the quirky lead girl binging four hours of Netflix or scrolling mindlessly for hours on end. Of course that's mainly because it would make for a very dull movie.



"Why not run into the sea with your clothes on?"

So the thought I was left with after this evening's teen flick watch, was what makes me think I'm too old for that now? Why can't I find that dedication ten years later? After all, I know much more about who I am, what I want and what brings me joy now. So it urged me to start those quirky teen flick lead habits. Dancing on my own, when no one (not even a camera crew and a director) is watching, wearing what I like, dedicating my time to the things that truly matter to me. Expressing myself and carrying myself with the confidence that was nowhere to be found in 2010 and the fearlessness I had in 2001. All the while still scrolling and binging because let's not kid ourselves.


I was a songwriter who couldn't sing. I couldn't even tell if my guitar was in tune or not. And according to the teen flick character description, that quirky girl secretly has an amazing voice that she was naturally born with. I've found my voice later on, and who says that's too late? No one. Too late for what exactly? In our teens we think life ends at 25. Everything seems like the end of the world. I'm 28 now and feeling like I'm just now getting to know myself, while also knowing very well that that will be a life long process. (Also aware of how young 28 is).


I made a list when I was 25 of 30 things I'd like to do before I turn 30. They are mainly travel ideas, learning goals and goals around music and writing. I've achieved some of them, and some I've yet to get around to. It doesn't matter to me if I never finish the list, or if I do so when I'm 37. I love writing things down and making lists, so I'll probably write a 40 before 40, and a 70 before 70 too. We live with ourselves our whole lives, so why do we feel nostalgic over time past? Who we were some number of years ago? (That could be a whole other post.) Why do we feel we're too old for some things or like we need to get certain things done by some arbitrary age?


I often get stressed after watching one of these films, or a TV show where someone younger than me has achieved so much more than I. The stress manifests in this idea that I haven't done enough yet, and that I'm not doing enough now, when in fact I am exactly where I need to be. I am growing at my own pace. We all are. So let's give ourselves the space and love and patience to do just that.

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  • Mathilde Fongen

I recently had a conversation with my counsellor which sparked a long train of many thoughts. We spoke about two very distinctive types of conversation and it reminded me how much I love them. I have touched on this before. (see the post "Conversations With Strangers" from a while back!). I suppose paying someone to have conversations with me is quite a telling factor in my love of deep conversation.

First, we spoke about lego blocks. These are conversations where each sentence is thought out before it is spoken, at least to a certain degree. Some of us (myself included) are not great at completely thinking through things before we say them, but for the sake of the analogy, lego block conversations are thought out. They are conversations where you’re telling a story or relaying information. I often find myself in these descriptive lego blocks, we all do. Small talk falls under this category, but so do most other communication.

Photo: Fredrik André Fongen

The opposition that came to my mind when speaking to my counsellor was watercolour. Mainly because I’m quite terrible at painting with watercolour and therefore find it out of my control. These conversations are explorations rather than dialogues. Sentences are made as they are uttered and cohesion is seldom a factor. The first word may have nothing whatsoever to do with the last. This is where we truly get to know each other, and ourselves. Rather than telling a story, we explore experiences in the space that is created. The colours run into each other and blend. That doesn't happen with lego blocks. Unless maybe melting is involved, so let's not go there.


Lego blocks come with instructions. Watercolour, at least for me, starts out as an idea in my head and the colours on the paper look nothing like it. In conversation this happens in the most wonderful way. Lego blocks are necessary, but to me, so is watercolour. We need to know how to build, but also how to express freely. We need structure and fluidity, at least I know I do.


Watercolour conversations are challenging and painful by nature. That is what happens when we delve deeper into ourselves and each other. They often occur after one too many whiskies around dawn, when sleep might seem like a better idea. They are the catalyst for change. Deep explorations let us learn each other and teach us who we are. Sometimes in that space we even change our minds about things. It is in these conversations I've experienced "Oh yeah, you're right, I never thought of it that way." The hardest decisions in my life have always been made easier through these conversations. My choice to travel, my choice of study, my move to Scotland, my break up, and everything that has led to the happiness I currently feel, I owe to watercolour conversations.


My family moved a lot through my childhood, and I have continued to do the same in my twenties. Home has therefore been a difficult concept for me to grasp (something I may come back to in a later post), but I do feel at home in watercolour conversations. I will cling to them until our eyes hurt from FaceTiming for five hours, until the bottles are empty and we fall asleep on the sofa and until my friends tell me "right, we really need to go to bed now."


Mess, unpredictability and discovery. It is where I find my closest friends. It is where I found love. It is where I find myself.

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