Pulling Out The Pushes Of My Past


By Rafia A

Growing up as a third culture kid there was one aspect about myself that I deeply despised – my inability to allow people to get close to me. Don’t get me wrong I wasn’t a lonely kid with no friends. I was actually quite the opposite. In all of the friend circles I have formed over my constant moves, I always acquired the status of the funny, eccentric friend who kept the group molded together. I would always be the one to initiate making plans to hang out together. I would always solve inter-friendship problems. I would let my friends pour out their hearts to me and help them heal with my wise words. I was everyone’s and anyone’s best friend at any given time.

Well, I let them all believe so. To be someone’s best friend, their designated care giver, the action has to be mutual right? Well with me it never has been because I’ve never let it be so. For some unknown, inexplicable reason to teenage me, all of her most precious friendships always ended up in shambles. She didn’t know why, but 20 year old me does. Up until now I was always curious to why I pushed people away. It’s not like I sat myself down one day to brainstorm and then decided to become this way… instead this act of pushing people away has had inherent, natural roots.

After having pondered on why I am the way I am for many months, I have come to one conclusion: TCKs may form an inherent separation mechanism, in an attempt conducting a pre-mortem for the possibility of failed relationships or experiencing immense pain. They prevent anyone from getting close before they even have the chance to end up hurt by the relationship’s consequences. This mechanism arises out of defense of the TCK’s feelings as subconsciously it is aware that it has to leave, and thus everything has to come to an end. Hence, to control it’s feelings, the TCK makes the weirdishly mature decision of inhibiting proximal relationships by pushing people, who violate this sanction, away. It may seem a little exaggerated, but hey it’s why I do what I do and apparently is something a few of my other friends resonate with.

It sounds crazy, dramatic, over the top, but its true. I have never let anyone get close to me because I do not want to end up hurt once I leave them. If anyone ever exerted themselves in trying to push past my boundary, I would change myself towards them and work on pushing them away. I always thought that it was for the best. Now having been somewhat sedentary in my home country for the past two and a half years, I am forcing myself to denature this mechanism of mine and instead let myself experience the reality of emotions. I regret being this way and ruining many friendships, all for the sake of protecting them from any future harm.

Sometimes, it’s okay to feel vulnerable. It’s okay to experience pain. It’s normal, unlike what the TCK is used to.

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!

One thought

  1. Thank you so much for this. I’m a TCK and I totally relate. It’s nice to hear it put into words by someone else. Feel less crazy 🙂

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