Michelle Obama and the Law of Jante

Michelle Obama swung by the tiny nation of Denmark last week and had a talk about her biography. I didn’t attend the event, I didn’t watch any video clips and I haven’t read the book. It doesn’t really interest me at this point. However, I stumbled upon a review of the event from Berlingske, where some grumpy journalist wasn’t particularly impressed. And then I looked at something I usually promise myself not to look at.

The Facebook comments.

Ah yes. I promised myself that I was past this. I wouldn’t look at Facebook comments, I wouldn’t reply, nada. I used to be way too riled up in internet debates before I banned myself from getting involved. But not this time. I clicked and immediately saw this random white middle-aged Danish man comment something along the lines of “why would anyone pay to see someone who hasn’t done a single thing in her life?”
Now, I am not saying that I know the finer details of Michelle Obama’s entire life, but I think it is quite possible to argue that his point must be wrong by default. I mean, no one has never done anything at all. That being said, I get that he was thinking of great achievements and whatever, but apparently degrees from Princeton and Harvard, years of work with campaigns and social issues and a bunch of other cool things don’t really count in this guy’s mind. I am not saying that she is perfect, but get a grip, man!

My first thought was “what the hell has that guy done himself?“. But after a few moments, I started to wonder that if even Michelle Obama isn’t good enough to impress people, who the hell will ever be? I mean, come on. She has done more work before I’ve had the first sip of tea in the morning. It characterises the very essence of Scandinavian culture – the law of Jante. You’re not supposed to think that you are better, smarter or as good as anyone else. No, you stay where you are! Don’t you dare to excel and be proud of your achievements!

It seems stupid. And boy, have I struggled with this a few times, especially in education. But since mr. Random from Nowheretown found it fitting to just ignore all the things Michelle Obama has done, I realised that there was something freeing in it as well. I mean, if no one will accept you or, God forbid, congratulate you for something, whether you do it or not, then you can just go do your thing and completely ignore whatever reaction you’ll get. You know what they will say, so why bother? Do you think Michelle Obama cares about what mr. Random thinks of her? No. Because she is too busy being on a freaking book tour.

I have spent so much time and energy being preoccupied with what others would think of this and that, that I forgot to do things because I actually found them enjoyable. Maybe I’ve gotten older and wiser. Or maybe I have read just the right amount of ‘inspirational’ Pinterest quotes to finally have some of it being permanently imprinted on my brain. But in any case – people will think you are absolute bonkers. People will think you’re silly or stupid. Whatever. Do it anyway. It won’t ever stop, not even if your last name is Obama, so why not just get used to it, ignore it, and then keep doing your thing?

(And then I roasted him. Obviously. In that stupid Facebook comment section.)

Photo by Jordan Donaldson | @jordi.d on Unsplash

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