How Lucky am I to Have Something that Makes Saying Goodbye So Hard

By Ayesha Solaiman


No one ever talks about how lonely it is to be a TCK. A wanderer. A nomad. A traveler. A wanderluster who fills out her dreams by traveling the world. Or the girl who dreams of having a home, a real home with a puppy, marks on the walls showing how tall she’s grown over the years, neighbors she grew up with, and her cousins just a 10 minute drive away. Or for the girl who dreams of both. No one talks about it. But take it from me; it’s ridiculous how lonely it can be.

What’s the point of allowing your soul to fall in love with another if you know you will be saying goodbye in a year’s time? Or two years time? You do it once, no problem. You do it twice, no problem. You do it even three times, no problem. But eventually after your heart is broken enough, you take caution, picking and choosing between allowing life to make you lonely or taking the initiative, and making yourself lonely on your own.

What horrible logic right? I mean, really… To play devil’s advocate, everyone dies eventually right, so goodbyes are inevitable? So why make any relationships at all then, with this logic? No. It’s not like that. It’s definite. It’s sooner. It’s as if that expiry date is painted on their forehead, ticking like a bomb. Tick. Tock. Sometimes you move just for a year, other times for longer, but usually TCK’s know how long they’ll be staying in one place for. The shorter the time, the harder it is to really open up, because you know it’s coming to an end soon. You learn from previous heartbreaks and heartaches that goodbye isn’t really as easy as it sounds.

And I’m not necessarily talking about love in a romantic sense. TCK’s will be able to relate. How many of you have different groups of best friends from each of the different places you’ve lived? I do. Some of them, I’m no longer in touch with (most of them, I should say…). The others, who think it is worth spending time to keep in touch with me, I haven’t seen for a long time. Some just a few days. Others, a few months. Majority of others, a few years… Can you imagine how lonely it is to allow your soul to open, meet, find peace in the presence of another, and then be pushed away from that person because of distance? Even if you promise each other to stay in touch, is it really the same finding a time that suits you both or all to Skype for an hour, rather than walking right to them at any given moment that you need them?! Take it from me: it’s not.

Similarly, it sucks to move, find a group of friends, say goodbye to them, and watch them all grow without you. Watch them make memories without you. Watch them no longer need you. As a TCK, you’re just a bird. A bird that just flies away, even when sometimes you wish you could stay.

You said goodbye to one person, and it sucked. I’ve said goodbye to hundreds (perhaps 50 or so that I would say really mattered). Other TCK’s, maybe even more. I always tell myself, and them, that it’s not goodbye.. it’s just see you later. And if both people are willing to and able to put in the effort, yes, this is true, but when you’re a TCK you know that life isn’t a fairy tale. People grow up. People move on. People gain experiences without you, friendships blossom with others, and you’re no longer their best friend even if they’re still yours. I’ve watched this happen so many times. To me, and to many of my other TCK friends. It sucks.

You’re in a constant loop of being long distance. You’re in a long distance relationship with the person you love with all your heart, but only get to see once a year (if that!) because he/she lives (literally) on the other side of the world. You’re in multiple long distance friendships with people you don’t know when. or if, you’ll see see again. You may even be, like me, in long distance families where everyone picks their favourite continent and moves – you’re lucky if you’re able to gather everyone (even if it’s just a few siblings!) to meet for a holiday.

Being a TCK is glamorous. It’s magical. I’m grateful. But please take it from me, it can be one of the most isolating and lonely lifestyles. It’s no wonder there is such a high correlation between being a TCK and rates of depression (google it). Goodbyes suck, guys, even when they’re just “see you later”.

That all said… I wouldn’t trade this life for the world. Even if it’s filled with constant goodbyes, loneliness, and aching for one more hug from that special person who is always so far away, “how lucky am I to have [people] that make saying goodbye so hard?”


Written at a time when I felt homesick and missed a lot of the wonderful people I met in my life. Inspired by me wishing there were 100 of me, so I could be with all the people I love, all at the same time. It’s a big world, distance wise, and while social media/Skype really helps, it just isn’t the same as holding your S.O.’s, best friend’s, or family member’s hand. I wanted this piece to be real, and to be raw. I know a lot of it sounds negative, but… It’s reality. And this piece is not meant to be overly negative. I am eternally grateful for my life, the opportunities I’ve had, the places I’ve visited, the people I have met. I just wish I would never have to say goodbye to any of them. My heart is certainly big enough for them all. Here’s to wishing for no more goodbyes, and many more hellos.

Author: thethirdculturekidproject

Founded by 2 TCKs, the TCK Project aims to bring together TCKs and share our stories. " Many losses are often not acknowledged even by their own parents, and the main problem is unspoken, unrecognized, shunted aside." Through our story sharing, we want to speak of this main problem and cope together. If you're in Singapore, email us!

2 thoughts

  1. I feel like you watched me grow up and new everything my heart felt and wrote it down.
    I do know exactly what you mean. Thank you for writing this.

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