Humans of Ängsbacka is a photo project of portraits and interviews collected at Ängsbacka course & festival center.

Jennifer, 29 years old from the Netherlands ©Ken Buslay

I graduated from university with a masters in  occupational health psychology and continued working there as a teacher for one semester. But after that, I strongly felt that I did not want to focus on a career at that point. I realized that the life I was living was an ever repeating cycle of growing from a junior to a senior in different institutions – from elementary school to university. I felt a big resistance against having to proof myself as worthy and start as the junior again when it came to applying for jobs. 

Someone recommended me the idea of volunteer work in return for food and accommodation. I liked it and started searching for places in the north that would allow me to continue living on a vegan diet and that would be linked to things that I am interested in, like meditation and yoga. I had expected the place to be smaller and I was surprised to find this kind of community life which I had not experienced before.

After the first week of being quite overwhelmed, I was amazed that this place – in which everyone was so happy, joyful and loving – could exist. The intended one month stay didn’t seem to be long enough. When the Sacred Womb Festival at Ängsbacka caught my eye as something that could be valuable for my personal development, I decided to stay. I’ve been here for eight months now.
 
I rejected offers for a coordinating position several times. I wanted to just be me without taking on responsibilities because when I did this in the past, I always took care of other people, forgetting myself. But in the summer I agreed to coordinate housekeeping for one week and through that I fell in love with this position. Using my brain again and being challenged finally felt appealing again after some months of rather simple working tasks. So this time I chose to not run away, realizing that this challenge will be coming back to me anyways. I figured that I would rather feel into this responsibility of guiding others while taking care of myself in the safety that Ängsbacka provides. 
 
After coming back from a trip home, I realized how strange it is that every family or person living in their own house need to take care of every aspect of running their lives separately. Community life taught me that I don’t have to take care of every thing on my own. We can share the responsibility of having food to eat, a clean house, money to pay the necessities and an organization that keeps all of this running. Everyone does their best in their field and together we make it all work. That leaves plenty of time to connect to others, play and enjoy life and whatever feels important to each one.
 
What is challenging me here is connected to the beauty of this place at the same time. I have fear of missing out on the connections and workshops, simply the magic that I could be part of. It is difficult for me to say „no“ sometimes and just rest or do something on my own. In relatin to my work in housekeeping, it is a challenge for me  to not judge people for how they treat the rooms and things. I am practicing to see that they are not doing this on purpose or they might have reasons that I don’t know about.
 
One important thing I learned here is to not hold on to others’ beliefs, concepts and structures. I’m learning to focus on how I can be a good listener, supporter and a challenger for myself and finding out what really works for me. I’m becoming less of an analyzer and more an observer, accepting what is.
This shift helps me to become more in charge of my actions in life. I am not hoping and waiting anymore for others to have the answers, take chances or to help my authentic self. I am becoming my own guru.
The people in the community – coming and going, bringing all the different insights, showing authenticity – make the path of learning here very supportive.
 
Ängsbacka is here for people to find resources within themselves to then bring them out there. If I stayed here in this bubble for very long, isolating myself from the world outside, I would tend to judge it instead of bringing this better version of myself out there. I learned to come home to myself and have peace wherever I am. Then everything else will unfold on its own. Moving back to the life I had doesn’t fit me anymore though. I have the intention to redesign and bring what I’ve learned here to the outside. That may be with a small group of people coming together in a house for example. I don’t know yet.”

 Keep tuned next week for a new story from Ängsbacka!

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