She told me they'd been playing living room concerts to raise money for the band. I was half joking when I asked if she was any good. Her reply came with a surprisingly straight face. "Yeah, I am," she said without missing a beat. For a moment something inside me cringed. You can't say that, I thought.
Others can compliment you, but you can't be the one to endorse yourself. But then I caught myself. Where did that come from I thought?
In the Southern hemisphere we call it tall poppy syndrome but in Denmark it's called Janteloven. The term, literally translated as 'Law of Jante', sets out ten individual rules to combat excellence. Like our own equivalent, it deems individual success and achievement inappropriate but goes a step further with specific decrees such as "you're not to think you're anything special" and "you're not to think you're good at anything."
Incredible I know! But surely we're not that brutal down-under are we? For us it's more of a humility thing isn't it- something to be proud of. As a nation we value the understated type of bloke who doesn't make too much fuss and just gets on with it. Just look at Richie McCaw's post match interview after a harrowing win.
However as much as no one likes to blow their own trumpet, it seems we've taken it too far in the other direction. I know for a young kiwi lad brought up in this culture, I'd often find myself disguising my ambition and talents under a misdirected sense of modesty.
And while I was convinced this response was somewhat virtuous, in reality it was doing little to bolster any self-confidence I had in my own abilities.
Herein lies the problem
When we don't own up to our true potential we not only short-change ourselves but everyone else that stands to benefit from our greatness. That's not to say we should lord our success or abilities over other people, but neither should we water ourselves down so others don't feel bad.
The reality is everyone can generally do at least one thing better than the rest of us- whether it's playing an instrument or organising an event.
But it we can't bear to speak out what makes us unique, what makes us special, different and what sets us apart, how are we ever going to believe that we have what it takes to actually make any difference in this world. Because generally its our attitudes that influence our reality more than anything else.
It was Jesus himself who said, "out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks".
And while he wasn't exactly talking about personal self-esteem, it still raises an interesting question.
How convinced are our hearts that we are truly great at something? How much do we actually back ourselves to the point where we become the best at something in order to bless others with our God-given talents?
Back in the Danish bar, the cigarette smoke was getting thicker as my new found musician friend tried to explain the type of music she played. Somewhere between folk and pop I was told. I imagined a female Mumford and Sons type act belting catchy riffs on a mandolin. Not bad I thought.
But to be honest, it wasn't this girl's musical style that struck me. It was her confidence. There's nothing more attractive than someone who knows they're good at something and is willing to share it with others.
I think that sort of confidence is inspiring because it gives others permission to do the same- to discover hidden passions and talents which can in turn can contribute to the world around them.
It certainly left an impression on me. So much for Tall Poppy syndrome I thought. What good is a world of stunted flowers anyway?
Struan Purdie is a 24-year-old kiwi lad who loves to make his own fun and is always up for an outdoors adventure. He is currently studying broadcast journalism in Denmark with his wife Brittney.
Struan Purdie's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/struan-purdie.html