The man came over to me to ask me if I was ok. I looked up and realized I’d unintentionally been breathing quite hard. Just a couple of minutes ago, I had been dropped off by the Uber driver at the A&E close to where I lived. I was in a lot of pain and just focusing on breathing and waiting for the doctor to call my name. It felt like a long time. I was trying to watch The Big Bang Theory episode that was playing on the TV in the waiting room, but it was surprisingly difficult to focus.
Finally, my name got called on. I hopped over to the nurse’s office. She asked me what had happened when looking at my incredibly swollen ankle: “I was playing football and twisted my ankle”. She looked at it and looked back at me: “You look like you’re in a lot of pain. I’m going to give you a double dose of paracetamol and codeine.” The thought that went through my head was completely irrational. I thought I’d rather not take that big a dose; it’s not good for your liver. I took the pain-killers after she said it was necessary.
After I had an X-ray done, they found that it was an ankle fracture. The doctor asked me if there was anyone who could look after me at the A&E. I told him I was fine. And remembered that the Uber driver had asked the same thing while driving me to the hospital. Later on, the nurse asked me if there was someone who could buy me the pain-killers from the pharmacy.
This is when I realized I really don’t like asking for help. And maybe everyone feels this way. The people I do feel I could ask for help from is my family. But having moved around so much as a Third Culture Kid means that my family is dispersed. My parents live in Germany. My sister just moved from Paris to Belfast. And my brother moved from Boston to London to then leave again for Zambia for a volunteering project.
It dawned on me at the hospital that as Third Culture Kid Adults, we’ve often learned to grit our teeth and deal with a new city, a new school, a new university, a new place, new people so many times that we sort of learn to rely on ourselves to get through things. I’m sure plenty of people do this, TCK or not-TCK. But I do wonder if we aren’t more likely to not ask for help, when we really should! It’s weird really. And when you think about it logically, it makes no sense. Why not rely on others in situations that are difficult? Why not get support from your friends? You can always offer them the support in return later. I’d be curious to know if there are other global nomads out there who feel the same way.
The second thing I realized when I arrived home from the hospital on my own was how many people had reached out to me to offer their help. The girls on the football team, my coach, my close friends, my friends from my old work, and my boyfriend (who went above and beyond). I have always had such a huge amount of support from my parents and my siblings. But I guess I’d never built the relationships I have today with friends. Because I’d never expected to stay in one place long enough to build strong friendships, I never thought I’d have those relationships. But that day, every single one of my friends was incredibly supportive and reached out to me to find out if I was alright. It was an amazing feeling. And it made me realize that something really has shifted in my life as an adult Third Culture Kid. I’m maybe not quite ready to ask for help yet, but I have let people in in a more long-term way. And I am starting to see relationships that will last a very long time. This is new for me. And a wonderful realization for someone who has moved so much growing up.