The Law of Jante:
- You’re not to think you are anything special.
- You’re not to think you are as good as we are.
- You’re not to think you are smarter than we are.
- You’re not to convince yourself that you are better than we are.
- You’re not to think you know more than we do.
- You’re not to think you are more important than we are.
- You’re not to think you are good at anything.
- You’re not to laugh at us.
- You’re not to think anyone cares about you.
- You’re not to think you can teach us anything.
Before you run away, I will tell you the words above are not mine. Many years ago, the Danish author Aksel Sandemose wrote those words and called them the Law of Jante, Jante being the main character in the book “A Fugitive crosses his Tracks”. He did not invent the rules, but put the existing social norms into these commandments. It was not a real law, but even today, the law still affects many Danes. I think Jante was a man who compared himself to other people, he had low self-esteem. He was jealous of other people’s succes, he didn’t love himself, and he was afraid to be himself. He hated himself and he projected his hatred unto other people. His hatred was so tremendous, that he wrote down those rules so other people would feel of less worth than they really were.
The law affected me too. As a child, I didn’t want to show what I was good at, and I was afraid to speak up. I was afraid of being different and making mistakes because I was afraid others wouldn’t like me. I was afraid of being who I was.