The calm at the center of a pearl

July 18, 2007

TCK — strange even amongst the strange

Filed under: Journaling — kyraninse @ 1:48 am

Just got back from visiting the Facebook group for Third Culture Kids and reading the discussion thread for how you know you’re a TCK.

On some level, there’s the “OMG! People who understand! *glomp*!” On the other hand, there’s the “Wow, even amongst them, I feel so out of place.”

For me, I know I’m a TCK because:

  • Sometimes I just have to use certain words from another language in the middle of another just because sometimes there’s no equivalent.
  • I’m not ambivalent about wanting to become an author — I’m torn about which language to write in.
  • I am always excited about seeing Chinese people in the US and seeing non-Chinese people in China.
  • I almost always mentally calculate how much something costs in three currencies: USD, RMB and NT.
  • I’m simultaneously envious and uncomprehending of people who know what it’s like to be ‘patriotic’.
  • One God? You mean Allah, the Jade emperor, Yaweh — etc etc aren’t the same thing?
  • The idea of being picky about food is completely foreign. Unless it’s bugs, that’s another can of worms entirely.
  • I’ve moved so often that I think it’s a waste of time to memorize phone numbers.
  • Permanent address? Huh? I’m not even registered on the books as a permanent resident by any of the three countries I visit most often.
  • I find it hard to believe that I can really truly be able to reach my friends at a “permanent address”.
  • My speech pattern is more like a chunky minestrone than a smooth broccoli cheddar soup.
  • I no longer bother answering the ” where are you from?” fully but just say “China” because it’s easiest with my physical characteristics.
  • When my friends talk about settling down in cities near each other, I have major problems because there’s at least three cities all in separate countries that are on the table as possibilities.

…..

There are some other things that are just because I’m odd. But reading through the posts, something springs vividly to life. It seems I’m in the minority, if not the only one, by being the one who really doesn’t enjoy moving around and making new friends.

I cling to things: I like sleeping in my own bed with my blanket ( which is the same one I’ve had since I was knee high to a cricket ), I can’t sleep my first night anywhere other than home although I fall asleep the moment I’m on the plane, I still hate car trips, I despise flying and being in airports, and I really really want a house of my own. I still want to travel and visit different countries, but it would be nice to have a place of my own where I can return to.

I’m also a loner. I find it hard to make friends because I’m painfully shy and actively keeping up with people is a significant drain because I’m never quite sure how to act, what to say, and there are abysmally few things that I have in common with the average person. I can still talk the ears off some random stranger if they were to initiate a conversation, but I just don’t see the point anymore because I say ‘farewell’ so often.

I’m also “meh” about the whole labeling things that international kids often do. I’m me and you’re you and maybe we wouldn’t be who we are if we didn’t grow up the way we did but there’s really no need to make an issue out of it.

That said, I like being a TCK, I wouldn’t change it for anything else, but —damn, it’s lonely sometimes.

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