I grew up lower-middle class on the outskirts of Copenhagen. Anywhere outside of Scandinavia, the socioeconomic label would probably have been ‘poor’, but Danish safety nets and support systems did their best to suspend the facts and offer better. But don’t worry: This isn’t a rags-to-riches story. I loathe the I-did-it-all-by-myself heroic myth mongering. I got where I am thanks to government-sponsored maternity leave, child care, health care, education, and even cash assistance. I grew up in housing provided by AAB, a union-founded affordable housing association. And my mother was a damn magician at making impossible ends meet without belaboring her tricks (like biking an extra 15 minutes to find the lowest price on milk). I took two important lessons away from this upbringing. First, as long as your basic needs are met, the quality of your lived experience is only vaguely related to the trappings of material success. While it wasn’t all roses and butter cookies, I had a great childhood. Second, I wouldn’t learn to appreciate the truth of the first lesson until I saw the other side of the golden fence. More on that in a bit. I remember playing the “What would you do if you won a million
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