A sense of belonging is definitely something I struggle with on a daily basis. Where do I fit in? What is my place in the world, in my country, in my city and in my community? One of the reasons I struggle with this is that I recently moved to my passport country. I would have conversations with people, even friends, overseas and they would just say, “Well, you’re not from here so you don’t understand.” I would believe that statement too. I wasn’t a citizen so I didn’t know everything.
Now that I’ve been in my passport country for over nine months and have been attending my local private school, I have found that I don’t fit in there either. I’m experiencing what many of my fellow TCKs felt or are currently feeling: this sense of being in the middle and not fitting anywhere. We are not cookie cutter people. We are complex and varied. I don’t feel like I can give my current school all of me. Over the years, different parts of me have been left in the crevices of continents. I am physically whole but mentally and emotionally I am a puzzle with pieces all over the globe. I do not regret this, this giving of myself to the countries of whom I have been a resident. I believe this has enriched my time there and the memories I carry with me. The locals here do not understand this and I am constantly battling with the closed minded attitudes of my generation.
I cannot tell you how many times I have seen sixteen and seventeen year olds astounded when told that Australia experiences Christmas in the summer season or that South Africa experiences winter in July. I am questioned as to why, if I was from Africa, that I was white. You may chuckle at the reference but once who have heard it mockingly one to many times, all you want to do is leave the building and never come back.
If school is supposed to be the building where education and learning is facilitated, why is it the place where I feel the most frustrated? Why do people not want to know about the world around them? Why do they continuously make remarks that insinuate that I had lions roaming in my backyard after I have shown them pictures of my old backyard garden? It frustrates me beyond belief and acts as a grey cloud, hovering over the great opportunities I have experienced and will experience in the future.
Then, I see them. The lonely, the lost, the forgotten and I befriend them because they remind me of myself. I see the hope in them. I believe that one day they will be able to help the close-minded. Watching them smile or laugh at the commonalities and the crazy stories we both share makes it all worth it. I have become the solution to my own problem. One less person has to endure what I endured.