How a trip to Costa Rica changed my life

Maiken Nilssen is a 27 year old girl from Stokke in Norway. She is known from various things, for instance attending celebrity farmen which is a Norwegian reality show. Besides from working as a model and yoga teacher, she recently came home from a 4 week trip to Costa Rica where she lived in the jungle practicing meditation, yoga and mindfulness. With no cell phone or internet she says the trip teached her much about herself and life. I sat down with her at RAW cafe in Oslo to talk about her modeling career, Costa Rica and life in general.

What’s the modeling industry like?

What I love about working as a model is that I find it very fascinating to express yourself in so many different ways in front of the camera. With styling, makeup, light, hair, amazing locations and great photographers I’m amazed how different and beautiful you could look in a photo. Being creative and getting into different characters on set is something I love. You also meet many interesting and inspiring people when you work as a model, the industry is full of hardworking and great personalities. The traveling is also very fun and exciting, especially when you are young. However, there are also some negative sides with the industry. Clients often see you as a product, and they put you in a box. If you are not skinny or tall enough they tell you right away which can be hurtful. It’s an industry that can make you feel very little at times, so you have to know yourself well not to get affected.

One of my first jobs as a model was in Istanbul when I was 19 years old. I didn’t care about measurements and diets and I went to castings looking like a skater girl. I didn’t book any jobs and I started to feel that I wasn’t good enough which affected my self image. I’ve come a long way since then and learned that it’s all about what the customer is looking for. When I figured it out I started to adjust myself to the different customers and brands when I went to casting, and it worked so well. I got booked to lots of jobs and every time I was rejected I saw it as a opportunity to work even harder, so I was sure to get booked the next time.

During your career is there a quote/advice/ lesson that someone told you that still sticks to your mind?

You can’t please everyone, you have to remember who you are and always stick to that. Don’t try to be like all the other girls, make sure you are the best version of yourself inside and out. I also believe that personality is very important in life, looks will always fade. If I feel my best and do my best and still don’t get the job, it wasn’t meant to be

What made you go to Costa Rica?

One of the main reasons why I went to Costa Rica this summer was because of my life situation and that I felt the urge to go on a different type of vacation than I normally do. I wanted to get away from social life and partying. I then decided that the best way for me to figure out what I want and how to learn more about myself was to go on a trip alone. I wanted to travel to a place very different from Marbella and the rest of southern Europe, and ended up booking tickets to Costa Rica. I would say I used the opportunity of being single to go and do something that I`ve always wanted to do. In the past I was the type of person that went all in when it came to relationships and I got very carried away in the person I was with.  Now than I´m single I only have to focus on myself and do whatever I want to do which is a great feeling. Another reason why I went was that I’ve  always dreamt of being a yoga teacher, since I first tried it 4 years ago. I’m also a huge nature lover and to be able to combined yoga and being in the jungle in Costa Rica was something I found very fascinating.

What’s the number one thing you learned from the trip?

I’ve learned a lot, but the one thing that sticks to my mind is to let go of the past. Things happens for a reason and you can’t control everything. You have to focus on yourself and your goals and dreams. I also believe that if you spread love and kindness to everyone you meet you will receive the same in return. Another major thing I’ve learned is that you have to love yourself and be happy in your own body and company before you can share the same with a partner. I’m also more conscious about how I spend my time and with whom. People in our society are so focused on recognition and acceptance from others, that they almost stop living for themselves. For many it seems that it’s more important to get the perfect photo at a trendy restaurant rather than living in the moment and enjoying a meal with good company. I respect people who have Instagram for a living, but it`s very important to also be able to switch of from social media. 

How do you push through your bad times?

After I came home from Costa Rica meditation has become a big part of my everyday life. I can meditate for only 15- 30 minutes a day and feel so much joy and peace. It really has given me so much in life, especially during rough times. Before I always  talked back and forth about my issue with many different people, I had the need to share my problems with the whole world. I think the need for attention and confirmation lead me to this pattern, but it only caused more confusion and mess in my life. I didn’t trust myself the way I do now.

What inspires you in life?

People are the number one thing that inspires me in life. I love people who are present when they spend time with others. I love people that are not afraid of taking risks and going their own way. People that support others in pursuing their dreams as well as not being jealous in others success. I want to surround myself with people that are curious about life, I find that very stimulating and important.

What are your plans for the future?

In the future I want to continue working as a model and see where it can take me. I also want to practice and learn more about yoga as well as teach it to others. Acting is something I find very exciting and fun, so in the future I want to learn more about that business. I`ve just got my three years working Visa in the US so my plan is to move to LA this fall and see what the City of Angels has to offer me. I feel that I’m done with reality TV, but if someone asks me if I want to join Skal Vi Danse, I would definitely say yes.