I have to say that I have never felt more normal. As a Third Culture Kid, having lived in different countries growing up, I always felt different. And the reason for that? People liked to remind me: “You sound American. Oh um, I’m not. Oh, then what? How? Why? Who are you?”. I’d pull out the story to respond to their question: born here, lived here, here and here, and yet parents are from here. And International Schools throughout, hence the American accent.
The response? Wow, that’s crazy! Or another scenario that will make you feel so different as a TCK: I went out for drinks with some friends who are all from one place. They’re all chatting away. And you couldn’t feel more different. Anything you say just rings strange. You feel odd. And not like yourself. You keep trying, but it just doesn’t fit. Could it be that it’s not you whose abnormal? Just that your mind doesn’t work in the same way theirs does?
The reason I say I’ve felt more normal in my mid twenties is because I’ve found people who are globally aware. I’ve found people who are adventurous. I’ve found people who are curious about different cultures. I’ve met people who have travelled and therefore welcome differences. We don’t necessarily have the same upbringing or religion. But we have that openness. And a real respect for differences. Who are these people? My friends. They all come from a different country. So that’s not where the similarity lies. It’s an acceptance and an openness to what may seem different or unusual. Around them, I couldn’t feel more normal. It’s beautiful, and that is why I am grateful for them.
And it’s also a small reminder to those TCKs who are maybe still in school or at university that feel that people don’t get them. You will sometimes feel you’re not being understood and meeting people who are all from the same place will sometimes feel tedious. And you’ll feel out of place and like you have nothing in common with them in terms of the way you think, behave, and react. But this is a reminder to you that it’s not you. It can also be them. There will be people out there who make you feel like you’re the most normal person in the world. Wait for those people to make a decision about yourself. Look for them. They’re the ones who are open-minded. Who are open to cultures, customs, religions, color of skin, differences, languages, behaviours and reactions. You’ll see. I promise they exist.