I am very excited today. But before getting to the excitement part, I have to give you a little bit of background story so you can also appreciate this moment as I do, because otherwise is like: “Oh really? You didn’t even get the job, why are you so happy?” but I am and this goes way deeper than just getting the job.
I moved to Sweden 2 years ago, but only about 1 year ago I got my permanent residence permit and personal number, which makes you basically exist in Sweden. When you have your personal number you can get your free Swedish lessons (Svenska För Invandrare) you can also work legally, pay taxes, apply for schools, etcetera, you get it.
Anyway, I came to live with my boyfriend, who is Swedish and we always spoke English to each other since the day we met. Until I came to live here ‘for real’ and decided I needed to speak Swedish to blend better and also to get a job, even if EVERYONE speaks English in Sweden. So I started my SFI lessons and according to my teachers and classmates I was SUPER good, they would act so surprised that I was learning so fast, but as soon as I came home and tried to speak with my boyfriend I couldn’t articulate one sentence, I wouldn’t understand anything he said and I would get so frustrated and discouraged that I didn’t want to do it anymore.
Then, for reasons that I still don’t understand I started developing anxiety and I also started to get depressed. I had some family tragedy back in Mexico and it was around December and it was starting to get very cold and dark, so maybe it was a combination of different factors. The point is that I didn’t want to leave home, because I didn’t want to meet anyone and talk to anyone. I started to get very nervous when I knew I had to go somewhere like the pharmacy where they might ask me something. I would postpone doctor appointments and would absolutely not answer the phone unless it was my boyfriend, which was kind of stupid since I was applying for jobs.
For the record, I had never been like that before in my life. I was always the girl who offers to make the team presentations at school, be the master of ceremonies in events, always wanting to participate and express my opinions, knowledge or questions. But in Sweden I was absolutely unable to do anything, and it all came down to the language. In my crazy mind I started to think that I ABSOLUTELY NEEDED to speak 100% Swedish everywhere, even if I could very well speak English and had no problem with that, everyone would understand me and probably don’t even care. But I also started to feel like people would look down on me if I didn’t speak Swedish, but at the same time I didn’t want to speak because of my immigrant accent. I don’t know, it’s probably super stupid and I don’t know when did I start to think like this and why. Maybe it was the news in Sweden about racists and the increasing unpopularity towards immigrants in Europe, but that’s stupid because swedes are the nicest people ever, so I don’t know, maybe is a Mexican thing, as we grow up listening how some Mexicans immigrants in the US are treated.
The truth is that I never thought I would find myself feeling like this. Very low self-esteem, completely dependant on my boyfriend to even order food or to go and get it. It was not pretty and was very hard for me to see the person I was becoming. Also, I wasn’t getting any interviews, I would send my CV at least to 3 different jobs EVERYDAY for more than 8 months, and wouldn’t even get the courtesy of a NO… I know that wasn’t personal at all, Malmö has the highest unemployment percentage in Sweden, but still, it didn’t help my situation. I would only feel good while traveling, because then I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about the language and felt completely like me!
I didn’t realise that I didn’t talk to anyone about this either. I would act cool and like, “well, life sucks”, when in reality I needed advice. So one day I met with one of my Swedish friends whom I knew would understand me 100% because he also has some anxiety issues, and he listened to me and gave me some very good tips! He is trying to learn Spanish and asked me what do I think when he tries to speak Spanish, and I was like “it’s awesome that you try to learn my language” and he said: well, that’s exactly how we feel about you trying to learn our language, specially a language that is completely useless outside of Sweden.
My good friend Simon who has helped me a lotAt the same time, I started going to workshops to a place where they are helping me to find a job. They have helped me with my CV, my cover letter and interview training. And everything is in Swedish. The first days I would sit at the back and try to look away when they asked something so they didn’t ask me hehe, but now I always participate again, give my opinion and ask things and it feels SO GOOD. It was just a matter of trying and believing in myself, because the only way to be better is practising!
So this week I had that interview. It was for a Waitress position in a Hotel restaurant, and I have no experience at all with being a waitress but I never thought they would ask me for an interview. So I went, and I was nervous but I did it, I did the interview in Swedish. I understood everything and made myself understandable and I am very proud of myself for saying “Swedish” when the manager asked me “English or Swedish?” Many may think is not a big accomplishment but for someone who wouldn’t even go to buy pizza because “what if they ask me something?”, it sure is a big step for the better!
I don’t know if it was my positive energy that day that I felt I could accomplish anything, but 3 hours after that interview I got a mail from another hotel to go to an interview next Wednesday! Fuck yes!
This has been a good month 🙂