One quote that really stuck out to me from the first chapter is again from Erica’s story. In reminiscing about her life, shuffling through her memories of growing up in Ecuador and Singapore, she rejoices in the experiences she’s had, but the nagging doubt remains. She wondered if she had lived¬†“a life in which she always felt a bit like an observer, playing the part of the current scene, but forever watching to see how she was doing.”

I have often found in my life the feeling that I don’t actually impact those around me, I merely act the way I’ve learned to in their culture. So much of my life has been looking at how those around me in this new place behave so that I “fit in.” I have noticed that often in interacting with my friends, regardless of where I am, there is a difficulty in talking about the past, at least I feel a disconnect. When I talk about the past, it was then and there. When most of my friends talk about the past it was then and here. College has changed a bit of that dynamic, as many of my friends are now living away from home. There is still a disconnect for me though. I’m used to hearing about things from then and there, but my new friends are not. They seem interested in my past, but there is still a bit of hesitation and lack of understanding when they hear about yet another place I’ve lived. I think it would be easier to just talk about the current scene, the here and now.

My mom talks about building history with people, joining in an act or even the whole play, rather than one scene. After living in one place for almost 5 years, I have found (founded) some history with my friends. I can say “remember when” and they can say “Oh, yeah! I remember that, it was so funny! (Remember that time when our D-ship group went out and looked at the stars while we prayed together? It was so cold!) Sometimes that form of conversation feels natural to me, but more often I feel that I am imitating what I see others doing. I’m the observer, seeing that others talk like this, so I try it and hope that it’s right. Sometimes it’s not. I remember more (or less) about something than others do. I guess that’s normal for most people.

Even after being at the same place for so long (for me) I feel like I’m still observing and acting. For example, the phrase “All righty then.” I hear so many people say this, including my little brother. When I first heard people using this phrase, I assumed that it was some Ohio thing. When I asked, I was given weird looks. No one noticed how often that phrase was used! The observer in me jumped up and ran a lap and the looks I received reminded me that I had crossed over from the fitting in to the observer role. I didn’t even see it coming!

Now, with all this in mind, I have sometimes wondered if this observer thing is just a part of who I am. Oh, I’m a TCK and we just observe. The real me only has a bit of this culture in it. There’s so much more to me. Now if only I could figure out who the real me is. Later in the book, Pollock addresses how some TCKs face difficulty when they hit their 20s because they are not sure about who they are. I think in this respect, my faith has made the difference for me. I still find the observer verses the “real” person conflict happens, but because my identity is hidden in Christ, I can be me. I still occasionally wonder who the real me is, where the observer role ends and the liver of life begins, but in terms of what really matters, I know who the real me is. That is comforting. And it helps me get through my faux pas with fewer chances of having an identity meltdown.


Where Are You From?

In the first chapter of Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds, the authors pose the question “where are you from” in the story about Erica. This is a dreaded question for me. Sometimes I want to just say, “I’m from Colorado.” …I am, too. That’s where I was born. But I grew up in 6 other states! It was easier in the CZ because I could just say that I was from the US. But it didn’t work when I moved back. People expect a town, I give a state.

“Where is home for you” is another question that I fret over answering. For a while the answer was Colorado. Then I realized that I no longer fit into the culture of ranching westerners from a small town. So I was rootless for a while. After moving 2 more times, I realized that Maryland was my home. I went back to visit every year, stayed with my best friends, used the library card I had when I lived there, went to the same church, etc. Then I started college. And my friends in Maryland went to college. Slowly my stability there changed. My friends didn’t live at home any more, so the one home I knew like the back of my hand and had lived in for at least 2 weeks out of every year for 10 years is no longer my “home.” Those friends have moved out, gotten married (as of last Saturday) and no longer live in Maryland. I’m back to being rootless.

All of that said, I have been realizing that while I don’t have a physical, earthly location to call my hometown, I have a future home that will be home indeed. The idea of home being where your heart is has some truth to it, though most people don’t take that as literal truth. For me, it is. My home is in heaven. When I meet other Christians, it’s like meeting extended family. In this way, my hometown is not a physical place but a spiritual one, that is found in many places. Some¬†day my spiritual home town will be physical too. Having fellowship with my fellow believers is but a taste for me of what “hometownness” is like. It’s a good deal, too, because that type of hometown is eternal. I’ll never have to move away from it. I might not see some of my family members here on earth, but I will see them in heaven.

Third Culture Kids

Third Culture Kid? Is that someone from a poor, underdeveloped nation? Is that even PC?!

You might be wondering. Actually, a Third Culture Kid (TCK) is someone who has spent time growing up in multiple cultures. Instead of developing a culture of one place, TCKs create a mixture of the culture of their parents and whatever culture they happen to be in at that time. Some TCKs have two or three cultures combined, if not more.

In my case, I had lived in 6 states and a foreign country by the time I was 18. This gives me many characteristics of a Third Culture Kid that David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken address in their book, Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds. However, I have an additional culture, outside of the western/southwestern/east coast/southern/Czech/midwestern cultures that I’ve already absorbed. I am a Christ follower. My third culture experiences have shaped me, but more importantly, God is shaping me too. So I have a completely other culture–that of a life devoted to Jesus. The culture I have in that way is outside of the worldly cultures and will, Lord willing, be more and more real in my life.

With this culture of Christ, I have come to understand that some of the things TCKs experience are similar to the things that most Christians go through as well. As I re-read this book, I’m planning on writing my thoughts and such. I realized after an initial reading of the book I used the marks of a TCK to explain some of the behaviors I had in my life, rather than dealing with those issues. Hopefully, as I re-read and think through this book, I’ll be able to find ways to identify where I am and how the Spirit can change me to be more like Christ.