I don't think there is an Icelandic phrase equivalent to the America phrase, used to describe a person with a colored past or a complicated life: S/he's got a lot of baggage. As a person who herself has a lot of baggage, it would be interesting to know exactly how that sentiment is expressed in Icelandic, or if Icelanders don't really have the concept. The latter is possible, since it seems to me generally that Icelanders do not expect people to have clean, simple, uncomplicated lives. But the former is also possible, that I just have never learned the phrase in Icelandic.

It would be helpful, especially right now in my life. So if any Icelander reads this blog and knows how to say it, please let me know what it is.

A bit more explanation might help clarify how this idiom is used in modern American English. For instance, if a woman is divorced, and has a kid from that divorce, she has baggage. If she comes from a family that has suffered from substance abuse or alcohol abuse, she has baggage. If she has been through difficult, abusive relationships, she has baggage.

If she has more than one of these things, she has a lot of baggage.

Most people with baggage, especially a lot of baggage, have found ways to make friends with people who know what that baggage is, and, even more likely, share some of the same baggage, or even a lot of the same baggage. Those people, be they friends or lifemates, are in a good position not so much to help, but definitely to sympathize, and thereby to make a person feel less alone in the world, less isolated.

Now having baggage is different than having problems. Someone with a drinking problem, or money problems, or a gambling problem is not a person with baggage. The thing about baggage is 1) it isn't the result of a character flaw or vice and 2) there is no expectation it is going to suddenly clear up with therapy. It is a thing the person will carry around with them the rest of their lives, a burden, a reality, an understanding of their individual, unique human experience that they may not welcome or celebrate, but they cannot disown. That's why they need to be with someone who has some of that same baggage.

The alternative for someone with baggage is to try to pretend they don't have baggage, make up some perfect little profile on or something, and sweep it all under the rug, hoping magically all the baggage will just disappear.

It would therefore be helpful for me to know the Icelandic phrase equivalent to "I have baggage," since I don't like to pretend I am something or someone I am not.


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