I am an easy target for anyone selling pretty much anything. I bought this t-shirt on a sunny Friday afternoon at Bondi Icebergs after a delicious lunch accompanied by a few glasses of wine with Janet and the boys. Having asked the waitress what the combination of letters and numbers stands for and been told that they say it’s the coordinates of love, BOOM – SOLD!

Coordinates of love… I know, but I love it!

Back in Finland Valentine’s Day is more than just a celebration of love and significant others. Directly translating into ”Friend’s Day”, it is a day to celebrate friendship, the beautiful state of being friends.

When I was a kid I used to not have any friends. I tried, I tried really hard to find a best friend, but I never did. In primary school I had my cousins and in lower secondary school I swam. When the others started drinking and smoking I went to swimming practice, day after day, so one day they stopped asking me if I wanted to join.

As grateful as I am about it today, it sucked at the time; I was lonely. I got braces, however not just for my teeth, as most kids, but for my back too. I felt like a prisoner in myself and while most people would tell me that you couldn’t tell (which you could) I’ll never forget that day when one of the girls in my class told me ”but you do see it, don’t you?”. Well obviously, hello, but could she at least have tried!?

Anyways. I started upper secondary school and was looking forward to getting a fresh start, but no. I still had the corset, I still felt like a misfit, and it radiated into all areas of my life. It was miserable. I was miserable.

I’ve come a long way from where I was back then, but it hasn’t been easy. I made what I like to call my first real friends in upper secondary school. I spent a year in the US with the tall German and the tiny Chilean, two of my closest friends to this date, and when I started my studies in Helsinki all of a sudden I was someone. I had friends, or at least I was surrounded by people 24/7 – it took its time for me to start trusting them. Lastly, as a cherry on top, I was voted Miss Exchange at the end of my 4-month exchange in Canada. What the –? I was shocked.

Rather than being an overly romantic and excessively commercial day, to me Valentine’s Day is a day to cherish friends and family; the diamonds in my life that shine just a little brighter than others. Being where I am today there are no words to express how grateful I am for all the people that I’ve gotten to know over the years, home and abroad, near and far. I feel privileged to have friends all over the world, a couch here and a couch there if I ever happen to be in town (and vice versa, of course, whenever I’m at home). My first three months in Australia (to the date yesterday, CRAZY!) have been a real eye-opener as far as hospitality is concerned, and I’m truly grateful for that.

It is the little things that are the big things, so thank you. Thank you friends, near and far, for being there. Looking back at where I come from I am so, so happy to have crossed paths with you and I thoroughly hope to do so again in the not-too-distant future.

Until then: Happy Valentine’s Day and all the best to each and every one of you! <3

Oh, and welcome to my new blog – I hope you like it!