I just read an article entitled, “Latvia: Europe’s Nation of Introverts”, and it did my heart good. It’s rare to encounter fellow travelers, because we isolate ourselves by definition. Hearing that there’s a whole country full of them felt like a weight lifted off my shoulders. I may have found my people.
Obviously it’s impossible, or it should be, to make a sweeping commentary about the character traits of a whole nation of people, but it seems even they poke fun of this cultural tendency. And the article goes on to point out that creativity has been found to be strongly linked with introversion. Latvians take creativity very seriously. They also seem to enjoy comfortable silences as much as I do.
I can’t imagine how Latvians coped with being part of the Soviet Union, a time when they were forced into communal living situations and were constantly being watched. That would be my definition of hell. Unfortunately, in spite of the low population density in this country overall, they still are clustered into apartment blocs in metropolitan areas to this day, all the while longing for the single family homesteads of the pre-Soviet era.
And it seems that Latvians are leaving the country at an alarming rate, meaning that it is in sharp decline, and the nation may have to embrace immigrants if it’s ever going to thrive. That will pose a challenge for these people who tend to cross the street to avoid talking to strangers.
Latvians are quick to point out that other countries have a reputation for introversion too. They cite Sweden, Finland and Estonia as having this trait as well. Personally, I think it has to do with the weather and the desire to emotionally hibernate when the weather is crap. It’s a theory.
This article portrays Latvians as self-sufficient, creative, and thoughtful people. I think I’d like them. If I didn’t look so much like my sisters, I’d wonder if I were adopted.
From what I’m seeing on line, it’s a beautiful country. I may just have to go visit. Just having friends say, “Why on earth are you going to Latvia?” would make me smile.
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