Seasons of Change – 2012

Autumn has often felt like a time of reflection, maybe because it’s a season of change. Change in the weather from the hot, muggy days of summer, to the crisp, cool days of fall; change from lazy vacation days to the start of school, college and new projects. The leaves are ever-changing, from green to all possible shades of yellow, gold, orange and red. Two years ago we arrived here just as autumn was beginning, at the end of September, so it’s definitely a season of change and reflection for us.

There have been a lot of thoughts floating around inside my mind during these constantly changing autumn days, but I’ve had trouble finding how to put them in writing. They drift around, like the leaves dancing in the air; the difference is that the leaves find their way to the ground, whereas my words are having trouble finding their way to paper. I’ve been in a pensive phase, as I often find myself at this time of year – it must be both the change in seasons and the approach of another year’s end. I reflect on everything that has happened during this year so far, and on how things have been these past years since we moved back to the U.S. It’s been a time of growth and learning for us, in so many ways. It hasn’t always been easy, but each struggle, each obstacle only made us stronger and more adaptable for the future. I’ve also been thinking of some of the things I’ve accomplished in our time here, because I think I sometimes forget what I’m capable of and to be proud of myself for what I’ve achieved so far.

I started my blog, something that would have never happened without the unwavering, rock-solid support of my wonderful husband. Starting a blog was a huge accomplishment for me and something I never thought I would do. I have always loved to write and to suddenly have a way to share my writing was amazing. But I wasn’t prepared for how much I would love blogging or for the overwhelming, kind and motivating support I would receive from the blogging community. My blog allowed me to improve my writing, to explore my love of photography and to communicate with people all over the world. The best part is reading comments where someone relates to what I’ve written – that’s what matters most to me, and I love when readers share their stories with me. I’m always excited to post something new but my favorite part is seeing the responses to something I have written and to feel connected on such a global level.

Something I wrote was published: two articles so far (I mentioned the first in my post Published, and the second has recently come out here). This particular accomplishment is really a milestone for me. It’s incredible to have a chance to do something I love and to have it published in a magazine. It’s all the more exciting because it’s a magazine that is made for (and by) TCKs, expats and travelers. You can see a preview of the 2nd article in the newest issue here, and you can learn more about the magazine on their website and in a previous post. These years have been filled with writing and accomplishing amazing things with my writing. I hadn’t written much for a few years and having my blog and articles published has given me goals to strive for with my writing.

In a non-writing area, in these past years I’ve settled in a new place, far away from my family and from everything familiar. I’ve done that without having a regular routine, like a job or school, which would allow me to meet people and find a structure to my days. This was the first move my husband and I did as a couple; a first leap into continuing our TCK lives as adults. That’s not a negligible accomplishment, but somehow I always seem to overlook it because moving someplace new and adapting was always a part of our lives. Yet I realize that all the other times I was in school or college; this time was a very different experience, but one I’m nonetheless happy to have. Every move allows you to grow as a person and to learn more about yourself. I know that may sound clichéd, but it’s true. This particular move has been a huge growing and learning experience for me. I realized that even after many years of being in the same place and not having to move, I’m still so resilient and adaptable. I’ve learned a lot about myself and about how much being a TCK shaped me and my outlook on life. I’ve also grown more aware than ever that I’m an adult TCK, which I mentioned in a recent blog post. Growing up we were somewhat aware of what we were getting from the TCK lifestyle, but only in these past years have I realized how much of an impact that life has had on us as adults. For all the difficulties it might present, I’m grateful to be an adult third culture kid because it’s given me the strength to take on any challenge and to overcome any obstacles, no matter where life leads me.

When I started preparing a blog post today, I had been planning on only posting some pictures I had taken of the beautiful autumn colors, accompanied by a few simple words. But it turns out I had more than a few words to say. Oddly enough, some parts of this post were written a couple of weeks ago, but they were in a post that would have been very unlike this one, and in a very different frame of mind. I’m in a much better place today – still reflective, but positively so. I know that things don’t always go according to plan, but a lot of times the unexpected path just leads to something better. If I had found or followed a ‘traditional’ path in certain aspects, it’s unlikely I would have started this blog or had articles published. Planning for the road ahead is always good, but you never know when a loop, fork or dead-end will show up on the path. When that happens, we just need to learn to see it as an opportunity to move forward down a new path and not as a roadblock that causes us to backtrack. It’s easier to believe that when things are going well and you’re in an optimistic mood – find me on a bad day, and I might disagree with myself. But I’ve been through so many changes in my life: by the time I was 18 and finished with high-school I had lived in 6 countries on 4 different continents. The changes didn’t end there, whether it was about where I went to university, the language I studied in, or the latest move back across the Atlantic Ocean from Europe to the U.S. I know change. I know how hard, heart-breaking and devastating it can be, but I also know how enriching and empowering it can be.

I both dread and welcome change. I am afraid of not being able to handle it, but I know that ultimately I’ll be able to deal with whatever is thrown my way. It’s part of growing up as a TCK – you learn very early on that change is a huge part of life, and it’s going to happen, whether you like it or not. You have to take it as it comes and make the best of the change, otherwise you’ll be miserable. TCKs realize very quickly that our whole life is made up of change and of adapting. It’s important to see the good side of the change and to know that no matter how hard it can be, it will make you so much stronger once you overcome it.

Adult third culture kid, pensive and reflective in the season of change, signing off.

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10 thoughts on “Seasons of Change – 2012

    1. So true. Both that the only constant is change and that the TCK life is pretty interesting, despite the challenges! Happy fall to you too and have a great weekend! 🙂

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving such lovely comments – it really means a lot! It’s quite an adventure living as a TCK or expat – it’s not always easy and there are a lot of challenges, but it’s so enriching and worthwhile. You don’t always realize that while you’re living it, since it’s tough to leave friends and familiarity behind, but once you’re older you become aware of how much that life has given you.

      Thanks so much for following, I really appreciate that, and I hope you enjoy future posts. I hope to hear from you again, and I wish you a wonderful weekend!

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  1. This is an awesome post. I’m at a crossroads here myself, and your words really hit home. I’ve read the last paragraph six times. I too both dread and welcome change, but the thought of facing the unknown is downright scary. That never goes away, no matter how old you are. I envy you a little in that you learned how to deal with change early on … it probably wasn’t easy, but I’ll bet you deal with it better than most people. Wish me luck, I’m going out on a limb here … and I wish I had your strength, ATCK……

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    1. Something I like very much about your comments, Paige, is that they feel like an ongoing conversation with someone who really understands what I write, no matter how different our paths have been or where we are in our lives right now. And I love that you always have something insightful and personal to share – it’s what makes this whole blogging experience so worthwhile for me. It also means a lot to me to feel like something I write can reach out to someone and speak to them.
      I have to agree with you that facing the unknown is very scary, but I really believe that we have a greater resilience and strength than we think. As for you going out on a limb: I wish you the best of luck in whatever you do, and I am sure you will surprise yourself. 🙂 I also believe that you probably have so much more strength than you realize – you have gone through something I could never imagine and you continue to have such a beautiful outlook on life and such kindness to share. Although we’ve never met, your comments and your posts show that. Thank you for always reminding me how wonderful sharing can be and also how alike people can be, no matter how different their lives may have been.

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  2. Chere Dounia,
    Gorgeous photo and post! Autumn is a wistful time of year, as days get shorter and we withdraw into ourselves, and I actually hugely enjoy that- curling up inside with a good book and a cup of tea. I should change that to the past tense- I enjoyED that before having kids, as they go stir-crazy if we stay in the flat too long! Whatever the weather, we have to go out and THAT has probably been my biggest change in the last few years. Reading over your post makes me sharply aware that I’ve been living in France 13 years now, the longest I’ve ever been anywhere! They’ve been eventful years- marriage, house-buying, children- and luckily I work with an ever-shifting TCK community, but all the same I miss the excitement of a new country, language, culture- so I’m quite envious of you Dounia! Thanks for another thought-provoking, enjoyable read!

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    1. Chere Anne,
      How I love your comments! I love all the little things you share in every comment – about life as a TCK, about how things are now, or conversations you’ve had with fellow TCKs or colleagues… It makes the distance seem a little less big and makes me feel connected in its own particular way 🙂

      France is also the country where I have lived the longest, so far anyway! It’s funny when I think of how long you have been in France, because we arrived the same year – I was a new student the same year you were a new teacher, and I had the joy and luck to be in your class 🙂 I have such fond memories from those times, and I sometimes can’t believe how long it’s been – next year will make 10 years since I graduated! A lot has gone on in those 10 years, and I’ve learned a lot from all the experiences I’ve had these past years. I can only imagine how much you must have learned, with such big (but wonderful!) changes in your life since then.

      Itchy feet and wanting to see/experience a new place, new culture, etc. is something engrained in a TCK nature, isn’t it? That being said though, I’ve definitely learned to live in the present, to really enjoy what each place has to offer, and to take any changes in stride as they come along!

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  3. Thank you for sharing this – I can definitely relate to some of the things you’re talking about. I’ve lived in the same area with my family for most of my life – only living four years in York for University. You’re right – change is hard, no matter what sort of change it is – moving away, changing career, taking a leap into the unknown. I’ve just become self employed, and whilst I’m panicking about the money side of things, I also feel freer and more excited than I’ve felt for a long time. For me, life is about weathering the changes, good or bad – and I think sometimes having felt the hardships deeply, you appreciate the joyful, beautiful moments all that much more.

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting, Liz; it really means a lot to me. I also wanted to tell you that I really loved reading your post “Belonging”, because I could relate to and feel so much of what you wrote about. At the time of reading it though, I was having a hard time finding my words, which is why I only left a ‘like’, but I wanted to thank you for sharing those experiences.
      I’m really happy that you enjoyed this post and found you could relate to parts of it. I think that no matter what our path has been, we’ve all had to deal with changes along the way, and sometimes we just have to take a leap of faith. It seems you’re doing just that and loving it, which I think is so wonderful – I wish you the best of luck in your new adventure! I agree completely with your beautiful phrase ‘life is about weathering the changes, good or bad – and I think sometimes having felt the hardships deeply, you appreciate the joyful, beautiful moments all that much more’. That’s so true, and as hard as certain moments may have been so far, I wouldn’t change them, because they’ve made me who I am, and they’ve taught me how to really appreciate the good times, and to really live in the present.
      Thanks so much for leaving a comment that made me smile, made me think and most important for sharing your thoughts. I really hope to hear from you again in the future, and I’ll definitely be stopping by your blog again!

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