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.

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“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.”