Overall, I love having had the opportunity to travel the world before the age of 18. If it wasn’t for my dad’s job, I would never have had the chance at such a young age to absorb different cultures. It’s allowed me to see the world in an open-minded way. When I meet someone from a different country, I’m not usually surprised by the little things that might offend others. And the reason for this is that I expect that they most likely learned it growing up in their household or in the country they grew up in. Every country is so different, and of course, you’re going to pick up all sorts of strange and wonderful customs. But, saying all of this, there are still some things that drive me nuts! So, here it goes, these are the 3 things right now that bug me about being a TCK:
1. The Look. It’s this look that people have when you’re answering their question about where you’re from. They just stare at you. There doesn’t seem to be any acknowledgement or look of understanding. It’s just a pure blank stare. What is that all about?! Yesterday, at a startup event, I was speaking to three people about the dating site we’ve launched for adult Third Culture Kids in London. This led them to ask how I came up with the idea, which is when I had to bring up my background. Once I was done, they were all just impressed. It annoyed me. I don’t know why. I just wanted them to say “Nice” and then move on. It’s almost as if you’ve taken centre stage without wanting to. And in your head, it just sounds so rehearsed because you’ve repeated it so many times!
2. The American accent. Very often, I love being different. And, in a way, I want people to know I’m not from here (London). Because, well, I’m not. But, sometimes, it just automatically puts up that barrier between you and the person you’re speaking with. For example, when I meet English people here in London, they straight away have created this ‘I am from here. You are not.’ I guess, that’s obvious. But it’s more the accent that has created that separation. And sure, maybe it’s the normal reaction to have. But it’s unfortunate as well because it creates a strong contrast between two people. You then need to work ridiculously hard to take that barrier away. By doing what Third Culture Kids do. Adapting. Reading their behaviour, reactions, and reflecting it back to them.
3. The ones who don’t understand why you’re going away on a weekend…Again. The thing is, right, we moved around so much that it’s super likely that our family is dispersed all around the world. Our friends are also spread out. Well, this means that we’ll most likely need to make the effort to travel to see them. And, unfortunately, we can’t just hop on a one-hour train to see our siblings, parents, grandparents on a Sunday afternoon. More often than not, it means a flight and hence a weekend. And our family is who we spent the most time with whilst doing the moves and goodbyes growing up. It also means we’ve built a really strong bond (probably a solidarity thing whilst leaving friends, schools, cities). And, trust me, for most of us TCKs, this means we’ll do everything we can to keep this bond strong. It’s the only relationship that has remained throughout the departures. The one with our parents and our siblings. We will do everything it takes to show them how much we care and how important they are to us by spending the money on a flight and making the time.
Like I said before, most days, these small things don’t bother me at all. But there are some… When.. Well, you know! What about you guys? What’s driving you nuts as a TCK right now?
My sister and I spending some quality time together a couple of weekends ago…