A Sense of Belonging

I’ve come to realize something in my years as a TCK: there is no period of adaptation. It’s just a continuous cycle; you’re never actually finished adapting. Just when you think you might be, something else happens to make you realize that you’re a foreigner in this land. But what happens if you feel like a foreigner wherever you go? Being fully detached from a TCK environment has been an interesting process. I didn’t realize how big of a difference it made. Even in the times I wasn’t regularly in a TCK environment (when I was studying at the French or English universities), I was still immersed into it often enough. Then I went fully back into that environment, as a substitute teacher and tutor at my old high school in Paris. But out here, it’s a whole different ballgame, and sometimes it’s tougher to figure it all out.

Sometimes it’s just silly little things that bother me more than they should. Things that are actually more than ok, but not of my standard. It’s frustration at myself, frustration at feeling so foreign and different, and showing it. Feeling like the whole world can see just how strange and out of place you are, just how much you don’t fit in. They probably can’t, they might not have any idea at all, but that’s how it feels sometimes. As a TCK, something I pride myself on is being able to adapt, being flexible, but I don’t always feel like I succeed. And those days are never easy.

Then I realized something else. It’s the people you’re with and the little things which make you feel like you belong. It’s finding pleasure in simple moments, enjoying the warm sun on your face, looking out the window at the blue sky and thinking ‘what a beautiful day, and I’m lucky to be here’. At least for me, that’s what helps me feel like I belong. Two days ago when I started writing this entry, it was much more melancholy. Then the sun came back out – literally and figuratively – and I realized that no matter how long it takes me to adapt, I am happy here. I’m happy to have a home with my husband, a place to really call our own. After all the years we spent apart, only seeing each other every few weeks or months, falling asleep by his side every night and waking up to him every morning is a source of profound joy for me. I love those morning drives to drop him off at work, because it’s just a few more minutes with him before he’s gone for the day. Starting my day by his side is the best way to start it; he makes me feel like I belong.

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6 thoughts on “A Sense of Belonging

  1. Isn’t marriage such a wonderful haven? There have been so many times when i’ve been confronted with something, an ethical dilemma or a problem or situation of some sort, and my first thought is: let me ask Steph what he thinks about this. He is such a bastion of strength (I’m not actually quite sure what bastion means but it evokes notions of fortresses and powerful walls to me!) and sense, I love having his point of view, his solution, his calm level-headed ideas, based on solid values, to guide me in the maelstrom of the world out there! And I agree, falling asleep side by side, and especially waking up together, feeling his broad warm back- i just LOVE that. We are lucky women indeed to have such partners.
    it sounds like you are having up and down days. Is there any community service work you can join in? I find seeing others less fortunate than me makes me realise how lucky I am, and it feels good to help. Plus a good way to meet like-minded people! Does where you live have an expat community, or has everyone lived there for ever and ever?
    Enjoy the sunshine and the happy moments! and thanks for the happy moments I get from you from reading your blog!

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    1. Marriage truly is a wonderful haven, and I know how lucky I am to share my life with him! And I agree whole-heartedly with your comment on them being a bastion of strength and sense – his way of working through problems makes everything seem so much easier and makes any problem smaller. Thanks for sharing such heartfelt sentiments, you’ve put in words how I feel, but couldn’t find the words to express it. And thank you for the advice about the community service, I’ll definitely check that out. I don’t think there’s much of an expat community around here, but there is an alliance francaise, so I’ll definitely be checking that out soon. I’ll let you know how things go! It’s a lovely feeling for me to know that you’re enjoying the blog so much; your encouragement and all your comments give me much motivation to go on. I hope you, your husband (I hope he’s enjoying his new job!) and your boys are doing well, and that you’re enjoying a lovely autumn in Paris!

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  2. 🙂 I take my husband to work every morning too! We spent most of our dating relationship in different states, he came up to see me every month or so but sometimes longer. It is amazing to be here with him always. I totally agree, as someone who finds herself a bit on the outskirts of things, having a home with him is like belonging. 🙂 I think you did find a kindred spirit 🙂 I am happy to meet you Dounia!
    -Heather

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    1. Thanks so much for your lovely comment, Heather! I’m very happy to meet you too, and it’s so nice to hear from someone who shares so many similarities! I’m really glad you enjoyed reading! I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of your blog and to hearing from you again in the future! 🙂

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