My first days alone in Copenhagen: a horror story by Manon

Last week I traveled to Copenhagen by myself for job interviews and to visit some apartments as we're planning to move here. My first night I was harrassed by a big guy in a group of 5 in the street of the hotel I'd stay at, a tall building in a street full of office buildings. It ruined my night and the hotel, being the cheapest option in Copenhagen, appeared to be a hotspot for middle-aged cheapskates, lacking in manners. One man was bargaining with the receptionist about the money he had to pay (apparently he already managed not to pay in advance for two nights). Other men were talking loudly in the hallway, and at night I woke up from people pounding on doors as if they were trying to break in (I thought I was going to get killed). 

The thing is that I booked this hotel for two nights only to have a private room to do a Skype interview which I canceled as I felt some moral objections towards the company after learning more about them. So I was in this hotel for no reason now, and it sucked. The second night I got frightened to death again and I was so happy to move to the hostel I booked for the next 5 nights. As the initial hostel I'd booked appeared to be in a street full of sex shops, I'd changed it very last minute to this one.

Arriving at the hostel and in the room I felt relieved. No one in my room of 6 beds, it smelt like laundry and there was a nice, cool breeze coming through all four open windows. I sat down and wrote a blog post that afternoon, as two Australian girls arrived and would take up two of the other beds. They were friendly and laid down on their beds to chill for a while. Suddenly, a guy came in. He was wearing capri pants and what Americans call a wife-beater (there's a reason for that). 'HiiIIiiiiiii' he said loudly, in the creepiest voice I have ever heard. We greeted him politely, although all three of us seemed to be a bit worried as he shut the door and stood against it for a while. I didn't look up as I was still hoping this wasn't going to turn into the nightmare that it would. Apparently he was trying to shut his friends out, two fat guys smelling like alcohol coming into the room a bit later, filling up literally all of the space in this tiny, tiny room crammed with 3 bunk beds and a table (where I was sitting, getting surrounded by fat bodies smelling of sweat). Most certainly this wasn't what I had hoped for when I came to this hostel, but surely they didn't feel comfortable either, being crammed into a tiny room with strangers, did they? Oh hell. They did. They sat down in front of me, pushed away my stuff before I had the time to make space, and when I moved they started opening packages of ham and other meat, bread, and they put a giant bottle of liquor in the middle the table. The fresh breeze and the scent of fresh cotton seemed nothing more than a vague memory at this moment.

I had just read the email from the hostel again to check their cancelation policy as I was getting extremely uncomfortable, so I learnt that alcohol was forbidden in the rooms, and I told the guy. 'OoOoh, is it?' he spoke, in his Russian accent. 'Yeah..' I was packing my stuff, a little nervous but my heart was pounding in my chest and as I was getting scared the adrenaline was rushing through my body. The skinny guy (imagine the worst creepy pedo character from a thriller movie, well, that is what he looked like) stared at me mockingly. 'And can I eat here?' It was obvious that he didn't give two fucks if he could actually eat here 'cause he was going to do it anyway, but he couldn't let this occasion to make fun of me towards his mates slip away.
'I don't know. All I know is that it's not allowed to drink alcohol in the rooms.' 'Well. I am going to eat, and if I eat, I also have to DrInKKk!!' At this point I was convinced that these guys were not just comfortable being in this tiny room with strangers, they were also willing to make everyone else uncomfortable. I put away my stuff in the locker underneath the bed (being only a few centimeters away from the giant, gaping buttcrack of the fat guy that had taken my place on the bench right in front of my bed) and left the room. 

I asked the receptionist if I could change to a female-only room. He said that they were fully booked for that night, so then I asked to cancel my stay. He said I could, but I would lose the money of 2 nights. When I agreed he asked me why I wanted to leave and when I told him, he said that I should have said that immediately since eating and drinking are not allowed and the guys could get kicked out if they did it again. He offered me to change rooms and would only go talk to the men after I'd come back down having checked the new room. I checked the new room (there was only one, calm guy there at that moment and I learnt that the others seemed normal too - anyway they could not be as insane as the three Russians). Going downstairs again I checked AirBnb on my phone, found a nice, affordable room still available and I told the receptionist that I would only change rooms for the 2 nights I couldn't retrieve, but I would cancel the rest of my stay. He understood. When I wanted to leave the hostel that night for dinner, the guys were sitting on the bench across the street. I was so scared as they would know that I told the receptionist and they looked and acted as if they would beat a woman, so I waited for a few people to leave so I could hide behind them.

The next day I found out that the two girls had also tried to move rooms but there weren't any beds left so they decided to stay there and see how it would go. As they came back from a walk the men would have been completely drugged, smoking in the room, and the girls were moved to an emergency room on the top floor. I don't know what happened to the men, if they were kicked out, but it was the worst hostel experience of my life. Sleeping was almost impossible (even with ear plugs) as the windows were open to have some fresh air but the music from the hostel bar was blasting until 4 o'clock.

I don't have to tell you how happy I was when I came to my AirBnb, where I have a bedroom to my own, a bathroom with a shower curtain, a kitchen to cook and have my own food in the fridge (which, weirdly enough, wasn't the case at this hostel) and especially: calmth. 

I am never sleeping in a cheap hotel alone again, and although I have slept in many good hostels, I think this was my last hostel experience ever as well. Tomorrow my boyfriend will finally be here with me and I will crawl up against him and forget about all this.

Say goodbye to your Fantasy Self

On a very rare and special moment YouTube has recently recommended me a video that I was actually interested in. It was from Janell Kristina and she talked about 50 things she did not buy anymore since she became a minimalist. Although I haven't talked about my personal minimalist journey a lot on my blog (but if you'd be interested in that I will definitely do it) I have grown into living a pretty minimalist lifestyle myself so I was very interested to hear about the things she would not buy any longer. One of the things she talked about in this video, which she later addressed in another video fully dedicated to this concept, is the idea of a 'Fantasy Self'.

Living a minimalist lifestyle means you live consciously, meaning that you don't let things into your life that don't add any value to it. This value will be different to anyone and it will also change as you evolve as a person. Things that used to be useful in your life might have lost their purpose now and only take up space. Some things you may have liked a year ago but you don't like the way they look anymore. This could apply to material things, but also to ideas you might have been entertaining for too long, or even people to whom you held on and you'd be better off without because the relationship does not have any value anymore in the best case or might even be toxic in the worst, draining your energy and making you feel bad instead of happy. When you decide to live a conscious life you don't allow things like that to just 'happen' to you any longer. It doesn't mean your life will be perfect from then on, but you get to spend your energy, time and money on the things that you actually care about and that actually make your life beautiful, as you are now paying attention to what these things are (and what they are definitely not). 

This is where the Fantasy Self comes in. It's the person you wish you were for some reason, and you buy things for hoping that just having certain material things make you more like this fantasy version of yourself. For example, you might buy all the cookbooks in the world, receive them every Christmas, yet still you're not a person that enjoys cooking. Or you have all this very fancy work out clothing, but in real life you don't like going to the gym and you can't remember the last time you went. Maybe you always wanted to be a creative person, so you spend money on these expensive pencils, markers, brushes and other supplies but you have used them once and never looked at them again. Buying these things might make you feel good about yourself for a moment. See! I am a person who loves cooking! I have this amazing new cookbook that will teach me so many new recipes. But soon a little feeling might start lingering; that you are fooling yourself. And everytime you see these books and realize you haven't used them, you are being confronted with the gap between who you really are, and who you kind of wish you were. All the things you buy for your Fantasy Self, are things that do not add value to your life, since it's YOUR life, not the life of this non-existent, more sporty version of you. 

So if you want to live consciously, one of the things you'll need to do is saying goodbye to this Fantasy Self. 
For me, my Fantasy Self has changed through the years and a big part of it I have already managed to let go of. For example, my Fantasy Self wears pretty but uncomfortable clothing like high heels, rings, bracelets, earrings, she wears daring dresses and she is brave enough not to care about going braless in public. As I really love the comfort of being able to lay down on my bed or squeeze my boyfriend without having the pin of an earring being painfully pressed into the skin behind my ear, I hardly ever wear earrings. I can't stand heavy weights pulling down my ears either, so heavy earrings - as pretty as many of these vintage style shell shaped golden earrings might be - are not for me. I am a germophobe, so I can't wear rings as I wash my hands so many times a day and I have to take the rings off to do it so I can properly dry my hands after, and the few times I wore rings I have left them somewhere (luckily I either realized and went back, or I was contacted about it). I have trouble with one of my big toes (some kind of permanent inflammation) so I can't walk far on high heels without feeling like I have to throw up from the pain, so I can't wear high heels unless I don't have to walk much. I don't like wearing plunging necklines because it makes me feel uncomfortable, and I am really keen on one perticular bra style from one particular brand (Marie Jo) so I can't wear dresses that require special, annoying bras that will only make me furious. I am not brave enough to go braless as I would feel uncomfortable knowing that people could notice that I'm not wearing a bra since my natural boobshape gives it away. As you could read in this blogpost, my Fantasy Self is also a fashion blogger, which I am not since I can't be bothered to look for locations to have endless, boring and frustrating photoshoots with my boyfriend that make me feel awkward and shy, and we'd rather just be playful and have fun together, not worrying what we look like and not taking any pictures whatsoever. In the life of my real self, the best moments are never captured on camera, and if they are they're definitely not aesthetically pleasing pictures that I'd put on Instagram.

My Fantasy Self is so chill, not highly sensitive and definitely does not have anxiety

Another aspect of my Fantasy Self relates to my character and that one is not that easy to let go of, I bet this applies to most people. My Fantasy Self is not a highly sensitive person. I used to try going to festivals and they were an utter nightmare to me. I had my highschool boyfriend leave me in the tent as I was so completely done with all the loudness and all the people of my first festival but I didn't want to ruin his night. Later that night - it was almost impossible to sleep through the music and the loud people - one of his friends jumped on the tent - which was on my head - and I hated that I ever even said yes to joining him to this stupid festival. After that I went to a handful of other festivals and I hated each and every one of them. The last time I told myself I'd like to go to a rock festival, I saw the light after my best friend told me that you get pushed against the barriers when you stand in the front, and I got severe anxiety just thinking about standing in a mass of people touching me and pushing me against the cold barrier that would be smelling of metal (the material, not the music), and I would probably also smell their sweaty armpits, their cigarettes, their beer-breaths and when they'd be yelling and jumping they'd stand on my toes, spill beer on me and probably there would even be spit on me as well from them singing along. It might sound funny to you as I write it out like this, but as a highly sensitive person I am extremely aware of all these things and they freak me out. I can't just relax and focus on enjoying the music (which is also too loud for me), I am feeling, hearing, smelling ALL of these other things that aren't just terribly unpleasant but that are also happening all at the same time. So not only is this giving me serious anxiety, it also drains me until the point that I need to go away and be alone to have my energy get back to the basic level. Luckily I have already given up that part of my Fantasy Self. I know I do not and will never like festivals. 

However I'm still struggling to accept the fact that my real self, as opposed to my Fantasy Self, IS in fact highly sensitive. It's like I know that I am, but when I'm put in situations that challenge my sensitivity, it still hurts. I guess it's one of the things you just have to learn how to live with.