I think it’s not possible to dive into the topic of Finnishness without quoting the statement of J.V. Snellman he wrote in his text in 1861:
“We are not Swedes, we do not want to become Russians, so let us be Finns.”
So, what it means to be Finnish? Finns have a quite long history of being known for the love of nature, understanding the silence, and seeking it. To one group it is about being proud of our hockey teams, embracing oneness when our teams bring our existence to the world map. To me, as someone who doesn’t watch ice hockey, I still truly enjoy seeing happy people on the streets being friends with one another for one evening. What’s left when the glory disappears?
With Finnish mentality comes a good mixture of being loud and goofy with our closest friends and family members but then observing the people we don’t know yet, looking out for other’s motives and ways of thinking. Slowly letting others into our minds and homes. I think it is hard to make friends in Finland, even if you are Finnish yourself. The other side of the coin is that once you break the ice and earn that trust you have found a treasure for a lifetime.
It is the love for autonomy and freedom but still wanting to know what others think about us so we can upgrade ourselves. It almost seems like robotic behavior sometimes; we are warm robots whose politeness can come our way when trying to make friends. We are too polite for our own good. It’s like having only two settings in the remote controller where we switch from being very polite to being very stubborn once our personal borders are crossed. Some people love it when they see our honesty and stubbornness and some people are in confusion about why we turned our tables.
We love people like Kimi Räikkönen and Seppo Räty because of how normal they are to us, but are afraid of people like Jimmy Kimmel because of his almost unnatural smile and presence. It’s a game of chess, wanting to know what’s inside of the opponent’s head but not wanting to let our guard down right away. In that sense, I think we have a lot in common with Nordic and Slavic people.
At the same time, it feels very proud to be Finnish but at the same time, it is just our everyday life and how in tune we are with ourselves and our surroundings. Dreaming about owning a house where we can drink our morning coffee totally alone. It is not being loud in public about our opinions but still having strong values even though it seems the opposite to others. It is being annoyed when someone brags about their great family history meanwhile being totally obsessed with our own family roots. It is enjoying the short summers we have but accepting the darkness that comes after it. It is loving the normal life with its sorrows and joys, with the good and bad qualities we are very self-aware, just like everybody else around the world but in our way.