For me, Finnishness is probably mostly about behaviour and the way we think about everything without even realizing it.
To my experience, Finns are used to too good. We have amazing system yet everyone feels bad about it. Working with Americans, for example, I’ve realized how little we praise everything – I wish we knew more about the ‘fake it ’till you make it’ way of talking about everything. Finnishness is sadly about not knowing how to respect things – neither good or bad ones. I’ve learned form other cultures that even if something wasn’t 100% perfect, you can be proud of it and happy with it. You can say to others ‘I love you’ as a greeting just to make them happy. And I believe saying those things make them real eventually.
What’s awesome about our thinking is that we don’t even realize how good we want to make everything. We are reliable and we always want to improve everything – this is something I used to take for granted but later realized that this is totally not happening everywhere. Finns want to make everything as effectively as possible and the idea is always to do everything the best way we could. We question bad behaviors and systems and keep fixing them all the time. We’re always mastering everything – which is even a problem somethimes. We’re so good at optimizing we don’t even have work for everyone.
For me, Finnishness is the will to make everything always better with the downside of never seeing what we actualy got done. On some rare occasions, luckily.
Luckily sometimes, like when Finland turned 100 years old, we spend time reminding ourselves of all the good in Finland.
I wish i could give you a praising essay about the intriguing and marvelous characteristics of Finns, our nature, education or culture. When it comes to giving sales speeches, I feel completely inept since i value truthful representations about any given subject and hence feel obliged to bring contradicting points of view in the middle of a monotonous hype.
Obsessed about the past As Finns we’ve gotten accustomed to being internationally recognized as “the place to be”. This seems to be due to our seemingly well arranged social services and good results from international educational reports as well as being obscurely but adorably quirky as a nation. Let’s not forget that precious nature, though; Finland has acquired a well established high ground when it comes to nature.
It’s very important for us to be recognized abroad. Finns like to hold on to previously gained feats, no matter how old or how valid nowadays. We do like to take credit of being pioneers in IT technology, for example. I agree this might have been true agonisingly many years ago. In recent years we’ve not really provided the IT industry any significant innovations apart from some individual fads in the gaming industry. The illusion lives on through things like Nokia or Linux, which are nowhere near substantially successful in the modern world. It feels like we kind of fell out of the IT bandwagon because we were too busy patting ourselves in the back. We still are.
It doesn’t really matter to us that ever since 2009 we’ve been seeing a decreasing trend in Finnish results in the oh-so-notorious PISA assessment results. Of course this is noted on papers, but looks like no one’s showing real interest towards interfering with the drop since apparently we’re still on top and the PISA stamp on our foreheads from roughly ten years ago still hasn’t faded nor washed away.
We’re the land of a thousand lakes, right? I personally don’t feel like taking pride in something that just happened to take form about ten thousand years ago. I don’t know about you but i wasn’t there to take part in it. There are also things called coldness and the northern lights. You must have heard of them. I’m sorry to break it out to you like this but it’s not exclusively a Finland thing even if we tell you so. In fact these very exotic phenomenons happen all over the top part of northern hemisphere. I, personally, have never seen proper northern lights here where i live, so don’t get your hopes up just yet. Also the tales of absolutely freezing temperates are not exclusively a Finnish thing either. Besides, last time i checked out the window we didn’t even have snow and it’s late December. If the temperature happens to drop drastically, we do complain about it even though we like to present ourselves as completely ice resistant heroes of the North.
I’ve never felt too close with nature anyway. I enjoy urban environment and man-made infrastructure and I definitely don’t find myself overly euphoric or relaxed in the middle of nature. I admit that my personal preferences might have something to do with not understanding the hype around our nature, but what can you do. If you happen to think alike, well, I still have to disappoint you: our urban architecture and infrastructure isn’t that cool either. The northern lights in the picture above are actually shot in Alaska. Sorry.
Unable to change Who doesn’t like change? Definitely not the Finns! It’s granted that you’ll be able to mourn about the airheads of the Finnish parliament year after year, but god forbid if you actually took any kind of iniative to try and change it! If you just shove the same people in year after year, surely something will magically change at some point. At least we hope so. Better luck after the next four years!
Inability to change reflects to everyday life and opinions, too. In order to majorly change in the way we as a nation think requires a change of generation, a completely new set of people. We have a bad habit of grasping tightly on to our beliefs that have been taught to us and we don’t want to change them, even if someone has valid arguments against your own mindset. Essentially not being able to change your opinions is probably just a matter of pride since we just love being right about everything. If you find yourself cornering a Finn by reasoning against their opinions or beliefs, please be prepared for some childish argumentation on our behalf. This is only a sign that you’ve actually made us aware of the surrounding world and we feel uncomfortable with it and can’t show it to you. Yes, we can be just that stubborn.
It’s also worth mentioning that we do not laugh at ourselves. Ever! Please handle with care.