The Day I Decided to Compromise

serena

When you’re a TCK, it feels like you’ll always have this feeling of restlessness. There’s so much to see and do in this world and yet, whatever you do, it feels like there’s so much more to do.

Your Facebook newsfeed is filled with photos from fellow TCK who you’ve met or gone to school with and now barely talked to. But they seem to have it covered. Perhaps they’ve settled in a country or perhaps they’re going to university somewhere and travel. The kind that make you wonder if there’s more you could add to your (already hectic) life.

Some have settled down and built a family. That can trigger a sense of envy because they’ve finally started growing roots somewhere, with someone.

I’ve reached a strange place where I’m not where I thought I’d be two years ago, but then again, do you ever really know? Yet, I’ve got this feeling I’ve found a place where I seen myself staying for at least another five years.

And the thought is less scary to me now then it used to be.

When I contemplate a situation and try to think long term, I feel like it’s not me thinking, it’s one of the different cultures I’m made up of, that takes the lead. To put it simply, with different cultures, I feel like there’s different futures available.

But I’ve learned to compromise. I’ve learned that it’s okay to be scared and it’s okay to think long term. It’s okay to not have a clear idea of where you’ll be or what you actually want to do.

They say that being a TCK means you’re more able to take a job in any culture, and fit in but the truth is, you’re also more hesitant about what you want to do. Because when it comes to what you actually like doing, it depends on the different countries, the different people you have grown up with.

I’ve learned to compromise. Some activities will remain hobbies, others will become a part of your everyday life. It’s okay to not be able to do everything, see everyone, travel everywhere.

It’s not an obligation that comes with being a TCK. And while that may be obvious for some, I feel like it isn’t for others.

Settling down and compromising is not a TCK failure. It’s a fear but never see it as a failure.

Advertisements

#2017

angharad

By Rebecca Coleman

               This year I wrote New Year’s resolutions. For those of you who might be asking “so what?” This is a huge deal for me. As a Nomad from birth, it’s always been hard for me to envision a future much beyond the next week. Between moving more times than I am old and never really having any stable or long lasting relationships outside of my immediate family, the future seemed more of a mystical realm, kind of like heaven. This thing that pretty much everyone agrees exists, but not really something that we, as humans can prove the validity of. Whenever younger me thought of the future, I always thought of events falling into place almost magically, everything woking itself out. Essentially, I thought the future wasn’t something that could really have an effect on in the present. Okay, so maybe I sound a bit fatalist, I might be, I’ll chalk that up to one of the effects of being raised in a Muslim country.

Anyways, back to my point. I’ve never been able to make any real, concrete new year’s resolutions. Some years I’d make a mental note of wanting to work out more or read more books. But those thoughts would be forgotten by January 3rd at the latest. Obviously the way I was approaching things was all-wrong.

2016 was definitely a “growing up” year for me. I had to face reality in a way that I’ve never had to before. Last year changed me in many different ways but think one of the largest, most important ways that it changed me was that I became a lot more realistic. As my entire fellow Nomads know, we’re dreamers. We dream of traveling, while simultaneously dreaming of having a stable home, of having friends that live down the street instead of on a different continent. We wish we had more money so we could travel more. We wish we had a flexible job that would allow us to jet off whenever we feel like it. We also daydream of being stable, getting married, having kids, buying a house and never moving again. You get my point. My mind was a constant juxtaposition between growing roots and taking flight. It was almost as if I lived my life out in my head and not in real life. So if 2016 taught me anything it taught me that while dreaming is nice and is sometimes the only thing that keeps you sane, reality is, well…reality. It’s important.

For my whole life I had never thought any further than graduating college. Can you imagine? I had never realistically thought about a real life beyond graduating with my degree. Then before I knew it, it happened. College was done and I freaked out. Cause now what? So instead of facing reality, I went right back to school and got a Masters degree. Phew, two more years of not having to think about the future. But then I graduated again, just 6 months ago. Again, “all of a sudden” I had nowhere else to turn, no other rock to hide under, I had to face reality, something I had arguably never had to think about before. Growing up, I floated wherever my parents’ jobs took us. Thailand, Canada, Guinea, and a whole slew of places in-between. All I had to worry about was making sure I packed plenty of reading material and a few snacks. Changing scenery, friends, and houses every other year made me really value the present. But it caused and imbalance. Before I realized how it affected me, I had no appreciation or real understanding of the importance of preparing for the future. It was something I ignored because I felt it was something that I couldn’t control. In my mind, well everything will just fall into place. Que sera sera or whatever.

So yeah, I graduated last July and I started applying for jobs, cause thats what you do after graduation, right? Well a month went by and nothing, two months went by and nothing. Guess what? Here we are in January of 2017 and I’m still jobless. Now, I could blame my predicament on a lot of different factors; my major, the economy, my location, my ill preparedness, but the fact still stands that whatever the reason may be, I have no job and boy, was I not prepared for that. You mean things don’t work out in real life like they do in our imaginations?? All my daydreaming of landing that perfect job right after graduation hadn’t transferred into real life for some reason. Oddly enough that was quite a shock for me.

I’ve taken many personality/strength weakness tests and one aspect that has consistently been my biggest opportunity for growth throughout my life is my inability to “manage a purpose or vision”, basically I refuse to speculate about an unknown future. Until very recently I had just accepted this weakness as everlasting (how defeatist is that?). But after many tears, a lot of denial, and finally some deep soul searching I realized that I had to take control of my future. I finally understood that despite the fact that I may not be able to control everything, I still have a duty to both my current and future self to make sure I am always in the best state of preparedness as possible.

So on December 30th, 2016 I set out to write my first new year’s resolutions of my entire life. Honestly, they came to me a lot more easily than I thought they would. I saw so many aspects of my life that I knew I needed to change. I saw so many opportunities for growth and future improvement. When I was done I showed my list to my boyfriend. His first words:

“It’s so long.”

In my determination I had written a whole page of detailed goals, resolutions, statements, and affirmations that I made to myself in 2017. Well, yeah, of course its long. They were 25 years in the making!

This year, I feel like for the first time in my life I have a sense of purpose. I’m beginning to find that balance between daydreaming about what you can’t control and actively pursuing your personal zenith in those things that you can control. Its a really good feeling. I don’t feel overwhelmed by my resolutions, instead I feel a drive to reach these goals and improve this person that I’m representing for the rest of my life. Does this make me feel less Nomad? Yes, yes it does. Having this sense of purpose makes me feel slightly more “normal” you know, like a regular person who was born and grew up in the same city. But hey, that’s okay. I’m not losing myself in the process, I’m just becoming a better, more prepared me. I never thought I’d reach this point of planning and preparedness, because honestly, I’d never done it before.

But I never want to be in the place that I was in last year, where I was doubting myself and my abilities simply because I hadn’t thought far enough ahead to put some failsafe in place in case of unexpected life turns. If you’ve been able to follow my ramblings thus far, thank you. If you’ve made it this far but still have no clue what I’m saying, I’m sorry, let me help. So what am I saying here? Simply this; I’ve finally found the value in actively pursuing the future that I want for myself. The dots between the decisions that I make today and the affect that they have on tomorrow have finally connected for me. All in all, I’m thankful for the lessons that I learned in 2016. I’m starting this year out as a more balanced individual. I’m still very much a daydreamer; just a slightly more goal oriented one.

And for those if you who are wondering, no, I haven’t thought past 2017. Geez, baby steps, guys.

5 things I wish I’d known earlier as a Third Culture Kid

mathilde

I didn’t always know I was a Third Culture Kid. For me, whatever I was living was “normal”. Of course, I’d always get that awkward reaction when I was explaining to people where I was from because, well, I’m French but have been in Asia for more than half my life. But I would have never imagined that some harsh times were only the output of an unexpected cultural shock or identity crisis. 

 I only really found out I was a TCK about a year ago, and then ending up founding the Third Culture Kid Project to help me understand the concept better.

Here are some of the things I wish I had known before:

“Always” and “never” – My dad told me this once. Always and never are two words that shouldn’t be in the dictionary. Nothing is fixed or permanent. TCK or not, your comfort zone will never be permanent and to be honest, should never be permanent. You should expect to evolve and grow, constantly.

Don’t worry about it   When I moved back to France, I had real trouble getting along with French people, despite being French. I struggled for the first two years but then came to the conclusion that “it’s ok”. It’s ok not to be liked, it’s ok to say or do things differently, it’s ok to think differently. I always was bothered with the fact that some thought I was arrogant. I was being the exact opposite. I was so afraid I couldn’t fit in or relate. Looking back, I’m still glad I went through this.

Listen to that little voice, the one has been there since the beginning. – You have so much to lose if you don’t. Guaranteed. It’s your authentic self, regardless of the unfamiliar settings you might find yourself in.

Trust – This is a tough one. Many of us are reluctant to trust others because we know we’ll lose them at some point, down the road. We’ll know this is all temporary and well, what’s the point of even trying? Like I wrote, tough one. I’ve come to accept that yes, these things are temporary but you will have more to gain than to lose by trying.

Never lose sight – I know it’s tough to be certain about the future, especially as a TCK, but if you have even the slightest idea about where you want to be in the couple of years, work towards it. Your environment and journey are so uncertain that the slightest certainty will make things seem less chaotic.

Thank you for reading, I truly hope these 5 points help you somehow, wherever you are. 

On a side note, we’re currently working on a project which aims to provide online help to TCKs who need it. You can contribute and I guarantee it will take less than 40 seconds. Please answer the following questions here: “What are the issues you identify or have identified with the most being a TCK?”

From one “ex-TCK” to all TCKs

The powerful message shared below was posted by Debbie Jongkind Dehart on the Facebook group: Third Culture Kids Everywhere.

Debbie .jpg


“I’ve debated a long time before writing and posting this…but here goes.
I believe I am considerably older than many of you who post here, and I have greatly enjoyed reading about your experiences and the questions you’ve asked and comments you’ve made. My TCK years are long behind me and I’ve been settled in one place for a long time. As such, I have some hindsight to offer. So I’d like to encourage you who are still in your TCK years, or perhaps only recently beyond them, in a couple of ways – and please take this in the spirit in which I offer it…to help, not to hinder; to encourage, not to criticize.

I encourage you to assume that non-TCK’s who ask questions might actually be interested in hearing about your experience. Give their ignorance a bit of grace and use the opportunity to gently teach them and widen their world…and cultivate relationships with people like them. They could turn out to be among your best friends.

Also, in a similar vein, be patient with having to tell the same story over and over. It’s new to the person with whom you are sharing it! It’s a GOOD thing that people are interested. I’ve posted here before that when I came to the US in the late 70’s, I didn’t often meet anyone who cared that there was a world beyond the state in which we lived. I think it’s marvelous that the world has shrunk so that now, many folks love to hear about other countries…and as a TCK, you might be one of the few ways that someone can learn about those places from a real person rather than a book.

And I encourage you to look at all the positive aspects of having grown up the way you did. It can be hard, and no doubt there are people for whom it had some huge difficulties that I can’t begin to understand, but try to look beyond the things that were a challenge and see how, perhaps, they made you a stronger, more resilient person, or equipped you in ways that living in one country all your life wouldn’t, or allowed you to understand and help others who are going through something similar. I firmly believe that we should try to use what we’ve learned through our life experiences to help and reach out to others, whenever we can. I will readily admit I didn’t enjoy moving so much when I was young because I found it so hard to make new friends all the time – but looking back, I’m profoundly thankful that I had those experiences. They don’t make me any better than anyone else; just different….but they did play a large role in shaping me into the person I have become.”