Part of my journey to becoming Friða involves doing things on my own. And let me tell you, this is a very difficult process for me! The difficulty, you see, lies in my ability to find huggan within myself, rather than in someone else.

Huggan is an Old Norse term that means comfort and consolation. If we cannot find huggan within ourselves, how, then, will we ever fare alone? If I want to become a woman of the Old Norse culture as I understand them to be, in strength of character, spirit, and body, then I must be able to find huggan within myself…alone.

You may wonder why this is difficult for me, or even why it matters at all. Well, I am the baby of much older siblings; they are so much older, in fact, we jokingly say that I’m an only child, just ask my brothers and sister. We had a large family and, boy, was I spoiled rotten! I was doted on and was rarely ever alone. I needed to be around people and yet, as an adult, I find myself alone. There are things I want to accomplish, but I realize there will be some I can only do alone.

For example, last week, I ventured to Chicago, Illinois to enjoy the experience of Kaleo’s Way Down We Go tour. I planned to stay in the windy city 3 days/2 nights. I asked a couple of people to go with me, but because it was during the week, they regrettably could not go with me.

I would have to go…alone.

I could do this.

Not very convincing, I know! I wasn’t entirely convinced myself. But I was about to find out.

I was able to do things when and how I wanted. After checking into my hotel, I found the venue of the concert, drove around a bit. Then, I walked the Magnificent Mile–wow! Beautiful buildings, interesting boutiques, and incredibly courteous people.

At the concert, I stood beside an Icelandic-American family. I listened to them speak in Icelandic as I worked up the courage to introduce myself to them. (By the way, is it considered eavesdropping if I cannot understand what they’re saying? haha)  They tried their best to help me with some enunciation techniques. It made the concert that much more fun! I was glad I went alone, for had I not, I may not have met them. That night, I fell asleep staring out my window at the John Hancock building with a full heart and a smile on my face. I could hardly wait for the morning to arrive!

I hardly slept for the excitement of watching the sunrise over Lake Michigan, and fear that I would over sleep. A snowstorm rolled in over night and I watched the fog overtake downtown Chicago, fully concealing my long-anticipated sunrise. But, I found joy in the phenomon of the fog and snow. And I looked forward to the next item on my agenda: Van Gogh’s Bedroom exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago. I couldn’t wait to see his paintings with my very own eyes!

But fate, the Norns, it seems, would have a different plan.

Walking up the steps of the Art Institute, I reached into my pocket for my wallet. Nothing.

Fear gripped me. My joy was stripped away in the mere blink of an eye. My chest tightened. Hot tears stung my eyes and threatened to flow down my cheeks in streams as hot as lava.

I stood on the steps of the Art Institute for an hour, calling my Uber driver but to no avail. I had no choice but to cancel my debit and credit card. Luckily, I had one credit card, about $25 cash, and an older but still valid drivers license in my room.

I felt so all alone and lonely. I was scared. I was angry. I was disappointed. My heart was crushed. Even now as I reflect on this, a week later, tears well up in my eyes and my chest tightens.

I retreated to my room the rest of the day, hiding from the world. I could have venutred around downtown but it was freezing and I had no warmth inside me. The fog still hung thick as cotton, even at midday. From my hotel room window, I watched the painters work on an office in the building across from mine. I scrolled through my social media accounts. Mostly, I wallowed in my misery and shame. I left early the next day to drive home, uncertain of how to tell anyone of my horrible experience in Chicago. They would ask, and I would lie.

I was angry with myself for being so afraid and allowing myself to be miserable. I was angry for not keeping better track of my wallet.

I was able to shove down my feelings into a box and put a smile on my face as I made my way back to my hotel room, but it took me until the next afternoon, on the drive home, to find huggan within and for myself. 

I was no longer afraid. I was no longer crushed. I am, however, still somewhat disappointed I didn’t get to see the art or the sunrise. I am still a little irritated about the irresponsibility of losing money, cards, and identification.

But I am proud of myself.

I didn’t call or text 10 thousand friends, crying crocodile tears. I may have wallowed in misery alone in my room, but I didn’t blast my problem all over social media, seeking pity or sympathy or empathy. I didn’t tell anyone until I knew I had found huggan within myself.

I feel stronger. I feel more dependable. I feel more independent. Am I saying I don’t want or need friends or family to comfort me? That’s not what I’m saying at all! A strong support system is vital when you are beyond weak. No, what I am saying is that I relied on others far too much in an almost unhealthy manner to provide the comfort and consolation, the huggan, I should be able to provide for myself. My hope is that you are able to do the same.

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