Like everything else, being a TCK has its advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, TCKs display cultural awareness and understanding, maturity, and a global perspective. They are able to connect with different peoples, and are flexible, tolerant and accepting, open-minded, resilient, and adaptable to change. They are world travelers and are more likely to be multi-lingual. They are at home everywhere. On the other hand, they tend to feel like outsiders, except with those with similar experiences, and may lack a sense of belonging, identity, and commitment. They experience a sense of restlessness and feelings of loss (because of so many transitions and goodbyes in their lives). Their idea of "home" can be confused. They may be unable to develop deep, intimate relationships.
(Souces: http://whichschooladvisor.com/guides/pros-cons-third-culture-child/; http://denizenmag.com/2009/10/whats-good-about-being-a-tck/; http://www.worldweave.com/procon.htm; http://www.expatinfodesk.com/blog/2013/04/16/the-pros-and-cons-of-raising-a-third-culture-kid/)
|A shirt we bought in the U.S. last summer that celebrates another part of my son.|
Then there were all the moves, both in Taiwan and in the U.S. I'm not used to living in any one place for very long, and if do, I feel bored and antsy. The first house that my husband and I bought was the longest I have ever lived in one place my entire life -- just seven years (and I was able to stay that long only because I switched jobs several times and had a baby during those years, so I was too busy and tired to move). While filling out the application for admission to the bar after graduating from law school, I realized for the first time that I had moved five times within the previous ten years. Filling out all the addresses where I had lived since graduating from college was no small feat! As a young adult, I sometimes envied my friends with their long histories with people and places, and fond memories of growing up surrounded by the same people, sharing inside jokes with them, living in the same house in the same town their entire lives, and knowing every nook and cranny of their little corner of the world. I wondered what it was like to be able to go home to the house where I had grown up and be friends with people I knew as a kid.
|My son wrote "Sammakorn," the name of the village where we live.|
It was only in recent adulthood that I came across the term "third culture kid." Learning of the term and reading about TCKs, a light bulb came on -- I was finally able to explain me to myself! There were others like me; I wasn't the "problem" after all. And living here, among people from all over the world, has only brightened that light bulb. I feel at home and comfortable here, despite the questions (which are more amusing than anything else, and it's fun to watch people's facial expressions as I relate my meandering history). I am among people like me -- people who consider their "home" to be nowhere and everywhere, people who understand. It doesn't matter if I don't fit in with any one culture; no one else does either, and everyone is accepted for who they are.
talk on it at a TED Talk event my school hosted. My friends and I have discussed the many positive aspects of growing up as a TCK, and we've discussed the numerous drawbacks of life as a TCK. We wondered if we were doing right by our children or if we were subjecting them to a life as outsiders, wandering lost and rootless. I thought about adult TCKs that I know and how they seem to be coping with life, having lived as TCKs while growing up. We sought advice from those with more experience.
|Some of the places my son has seen.|
|Photo courtesy of Third Culture Kids (TCKs), a Facebook community.|