For those of you who know third culture kids, ever notice how we trace back events to the country we were living in at the time said event took place? That’s how our timeline works. That’s how we break our life into segments and we remember when certain things happened. It might seem strange to some people, they may wonder why it would matter where you were exactly…
It matters simply because we were there. That was home at that time. It matters because that’s where we lived that particular experience. Oh, and it’s just how we function.
When you move around every so many years, your life is split into segments, and you remember what happened according to those segments. Each segment corresponds to a country, and therefore corresponds to specific dates. In a TCK environment, that makes sense, as do many other things. When you’re no longer in a “TCK school”, you feel just how different you are. When people hear about your journey, they are in awe, or surprised, or confused…but they don’t get it. How could they? You’re an outsider. You see the world, and more specifically, their world through different eyes. Some places you feel this more than others.
We’re feeling that now in the U.S., with my fiancé. I felt it before, in Australia, where we just went to a “regular” school. But I was over 10 years younger then, and in school. Life was easier then. Not better or worse, but definitely easier; at least in certain ways. Meeting people, making friends, that’s easier in school. But no matter what, it’s tough trying to fit in when you’re different. Different background, different journey, different physical appearance…Fitting in is never easy. And sometimes, in some places, it’s less easy then others. Sometimes, no matter how well you speak a language, the “natives” know you’re not from there. There’s a word, a phrase, an expression, a single vowel sound that gives you away.
Please don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying it’s impossible to fit in or that we spend our lives feeling like outcasts, because it’s not, and we don’t. I’m just saying that certain places feel more like home than others…and those places are not necessarily where our parents are from or what our passport says.
The saying “home is where the heart is” rings so very true for a TCK.