As a kid I loved Pippi Longstocking (and I still do!); a character from the children books by the Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. Pippi was a red-haired girl who lived in Villa Villekulla with her horse and monkey. She lived there on her own as her mother died and her father was always on the sea. But Pippi was very self-confident and was always cheering things up with her unconventional ideas. She became angry when things were unfair. And she was so strong she could lift her horse with one hand. Tommy and Annika were her friends. Annika was always very scared for everything and afraid to do things which adults wouldn’t allow. But when Pippi convinced her it was the most epic thing to do she would join, and then Annika always loved it.
As a kid I was more of an Annika. I was always holding unto the skirt of my mother when we were visiting people. I was so shy I didn’t dare to talk to the other kids. Until my younger sister was pulling me away from my mom’s skirt into the playground. I was often afraid for a lot of things (especially people) and that’s why I was looking up to Pippi who was not afraid for anything. I loved her braveness, craziness and unpredictability. And in the same way I always looked up to people with the same characteristics; I wanted to be around those who were brave and fearless. I think the Pippi examples I had in my life, such as my sister, were pulling that Pippi out of myself.
When I was 10 years old I was dressing myself as Pippi Longstocking to play violin on the Queensday flea market. With a metal wire in my hair to hold my braids upright and the mismatched longstockings I really was like her. I remember I raised a lot of money, haha.
I think in our lives we can notice when we are more of a Pippi and when we are more of an Annika; when we are not afraid to try out new things or when our fears are holding ourselves back.
At the moment I am noticing this struggle in my own life. One of my dreams is to build my own house; and I am going to make this happen with the Pippi mindset I have often used in my life: “I have never tried that before, so I think I should definitely be able to do that”.
“I have never tried that before, so I think I should definately be able to do that”Pippi Longstocking
But then along the way there are always people saying things which are shaking my self confidence; “But you have never built a house before, how will you ever be able to do that?”. Which is followed by days that I am completely overwhelmed by all the choices I have to make in how to exactly build the house, which puts a voice in my head saying: “told you so, you are not good enough”. But I will continue googling (Google is my best friend but also my worst nightmare in sometimes making things more complicated) and entrusting myself with new knowledge. I am also asking a lot of questions; one time I had a supplier on the phone who said “If you ask such questions, I think you should not do it yourself but hire someone for you”. Which is completely putting me down again. Of course I know I should not listen to all these negative voices, but it’s still making me scared and anxious. And then I start to doubt myself again if I will ever make it.
At the same time there are also the other voices of family and friends who are saying “Of course you will be able to do it, look at all the other things you have been doing in life. We believe in you and we will be there to support you”. My father remembered me that when I was four years old I was always checking on the house that my parents were building with a contractor. We lived very close by and we always went there by bike to see how things were going on with the construction. I was fascinated and can still remember the smell of the construction site. I was building my own house with Duplo and Lego when I was back at home.
I am going to build my own house which I have never done before, so I think I should definately be able to do it! I am going to let the Pippi voices win it from Annika. Although I found it also a relief to realise that when you are doing things you have never done before it is normal to feel scared. No one said it will be easy. And more times will come when I feel afraid because being brave feels uncomfortable. But I will continue looking for people who are willing to stand beside me; I am not on my own.
“Being uncomfortable is part of being brave”Brene Brown
So don’t listen to the people who tell you, you can’t make it. Don’t listen to those voices saying you are not good enough, not smart enough. Don’t listen to the people who say you will fail if you are not working hard enough. Don’t listen to the people who are saying you don’t have the right to be here.
If your fears are ever holding you back to try out new things; try to find that Pippi in you. Let the Pippi voice win. And if you are getting scared and anxious and Annika takes you over; look for the other Pippi’s in your life who will help to find the Pippi in yourself. I am sure there is also a Pippi in you. Someone who is not scared to do the things different and will never let anything, or anyone, shake his self esteem!