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?”