I just read a post from the blog The Third Culture Kid Project that is titled “The Day I Compromised.” In it the author talks about how settling down is not a sign of failure for a TCK. This truth gently relieved a dormant wound I’d covered away until I could find a salve to soothe it. As a TCK you’re always told how much you have to offer the world since you have travelled outside of your home country- in my case America. It is true that as a traveler of the world your mind becomes more open and you learn how relate to people in other countries more easily – sometimes more easily than those in your own home country. You learn to appreciate different cultures and to see more of the outside world than wherever you happen to be living at the time. Those foreigners no longer seem strange but feel more like family. Because of this, you are told as a TCK you can work anywhere and you can help teach other people who never have been outside their own country to see the world a little bit differently. You have a perspective others don’t have the opportunity to have. You have a wealth of nations behind you and in you and a part of you. Think of how much you could do and accomplish!
So when a TCK -me- does “settle down” it can feel as if I am a failure for not living out the potential that is supposed to be in me. I see friends who are also TCKs living in other countries and helping the world and living up to that potential. And when I see them I am amazed and rejoice at all they are accomplishing and get to live through. But there is also a piece of me that becomes disheartened as I sit at my desk job back in the little town I was born in. Don’t get me wrong I have a wonderful life and I am so extremely grateful and am so blessed. I got to marry the man of my dreams who I never thought it would ever be possible to date let alone marry! We have a house and a very cute pitbull who is a huge baby we get to take all kinds of walks with through fantastic forests. We have electric and running water and warm beds and air conditioning when it gets too humid and heat when it snows. We get snow!!! God has blessed us with great jobs and He continues to provide for us and gives us more than we could need and want. Please believe I do not regret what all God has done for us.
Still, as a TCK, there is this restlessness at times to travel the world and absorb all I can. And see the beauties of God’s world before it’s all gone. There is this dark whisper inside that tells me I gave up because I’m not in another country and doing something grand and accomplishing more. That darkness makes it hard to see that settling down isn’t failing. Sometimes I feel like settling down means that all I have grown through and gone through and travelled through is being wasted. That more than half of my life was for nothing. I know this isn’t true. And I wouldn’t change anything. But it is something that I don’t like to dwell on. This is why when another TCK says that settling down is not failing it relieves a wound I know they deal with too.
And when I think about it, we’re all just living. Those TCKs living in countries that are not their passport countries home are just living their lives the same as I’m just living mine. We’re just on other sides of the world. We live with worlds inside us no matter where we are. We are still world travellers even when we “settle down” whether it’s in our passport’s home country or the one we decided to settle down in. Settling down isn’t giving up. It’s just living. And it doesn’t mean you will never travel again. It also doesn’t mean that those mixtures of cultures inside you die. They will still be there. They are a part of you and they helped to form you. You will always be a culture all your own. No matter where you decide to “settle down.”