“Girlhood Around the World” is a special, 10-week series from The Lily. Each week, we will offer a glimpse into the world of a girl in a different country. To receive these in your inbox each week, sign up for our newsletter, Lily Lines.
Miriam Barchéus is a 15-year-old girl who lives in Sundsvall, Sweden, with her parents, her sister and their dog, Tyson. Miriam plays the vibraphone and guitar, and writes her own music. In her diary entries, Miriam writes about looking at a new school in Stockholm, her mental health, and an all-consuming crush on a girl.
Miriam identifies as pansexual. “I don’t like to be known for just one part of me. I don’t like to be remembered for just one part of my personality, for example me liking people regardless of gender, or playing instruments. It feels like it hollows out everything else that I do, like that one thing is all that I do,” she writes.
Sweden ranks third in the world on the United Nations’ gender inequality index — making it one of the least unequal countries in the world on the ranking that measures empowerment, economic status of women and reproductive health. In fact, the country claims to have the world’s first “feminist government.”
When it comes to LGBT rights, Sweden is ranked fourth out of 49 countries in Europe by ILGA-Europe. About 2 out of 3 young bisexual and lesbian women said they had faced discrimination, according to a study conducted by the Swedish National Board for Youth Affairs in 2012. The same study includes statistics about LGBT youth in Sweden, finding that a large percentage had mental health problems; a significant proportion felt unsafe in public spaces; and 35 percent had faced sexual abuse.
I don’t think today was that bad overall. I’m almost over the cold I caught last week, I got a few minutes of extra sleep this morning, and most importantly, I had no serious dips mentally. It was just a good Tuesday. My usual Tuesday activities went well too, I learned some things during my percussion lesson and I learned how much better I’ve gotten at reading sheet music during orchestra practice.
The most important thing that happened to me today was that I got a letter from the hospital in Umea regarding a few appointments. I need to be diagnosed with a specific condition in order to get help with my mental health, and so this is the first step to getting help with that. I’m really excited. I’ve waited so many months for this letter, and much, much longer before that because I was afraid to tell my parents how I felt and that I needed medical help. I cried when I saw the envelope and where it was from.
I’m sort of stressed about an event coming up in less than two weeks, I have a gig booked Friday the 28th, and I’m going to play my own music that I’ve written for vibraphone and guitar. Only problem is I feel like I need one or two more songs for vibraphone, and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to finish the one I have started in time, as I’ll be busy this weekend. I’m sure it’ll be fine though. Maybe I’m a bit stressed over school too.
I’m currently on a train from Sundsvall to Stockholm where I’ll be staying until Sunday afternoon. I’m going to Stockholm because I’m going to be visiting a school that I hope to start studying at next year. They offer a very high quality music program that isn’t available in Sundsvall, so I’ll have to move to do it, and though I’m a little stressed about finding a place to live, I’m sure I’ll find a solution somehow.
School today didn’t feel like a real day. I don’t feel like I got much done, but that’s probably because I had to leave early in order to get my train on time, where I’m writing this. To be honest, I feel very empty so far today as nothing of importance has happened yet, but when I arrive I’m meeting my friend who moved to Stockholm for school. I’ve missed her so much, every day since she moved and now I’m going to sleep over at her new apartment. I wish I could be with her more often, but this will do for now.
This weekend has been so tiring, but so, so fun. On Friday, I visited the school that I wrote about last time. It definitely gave me an idea of what the school’s like, but it also showed me what actually can be different from school to school. I’ve been attending the same school since I was 6 years old. I had absolutely no clue what another school could be like. Before the visit, my whole vision of the school was based on what my percussion teacher had told me, and what the school’s website said. I was almost completely sure I wanted to go there, but now after my visit, I’m much more uncertain about everything, and I think I need to visit a few more schools before making my decision.
I’ve developed a huge crush on a special somebody, and it’s actually driving me mad. She’s just… so kind. I literally can’t stop thinking about her. She’s on my mind every waking minute and it’s making it very difficult to focus on anything else. I spent a whole hour during school on Thursday thinking about her and when I arrived at Ivan’s house on Friday afternoon after the visit to the school, I cried because she’s such an angel and it makes me sad that she’ll probably never like me back because I’m a girl! I wish I could hold her hand forever but oh well, maybe someday.
In Sweden’s preschools, boys learn to dance and girls learn to yell (New York Times)