Photo by John Hain,

Constructing Self


Nationality, Career, Uniqueness

Photo by John Hain,
Photo by John Hain,


I love this image. It so elegantly sums up how our ‘selves’ are constructed… how self is built through our stories, experiences and reiterated through a sense of self ‘now’. Our histories play a huge part in the constructing of our selves, and my work with Third Culture Kids has found that three particular constructs often weave through these histories… narratives that orient around nationality, career, and a sense of uniqueness.

This trio act as mediators in the construction of self for many Third Culture Kids, and their significance plays out both on the ‘field’ abroad, and in later adult life also. The below is drawn from a chapter of my thesis on the topic. If you’d like to read more, click here, and if you’d like to find out how exploring your constructed self could help your present self, contact me here.

“In much of the literature around TCKs, a global supranational culture is said to exist whereby individual nationalities matter little to the individual TCK’s experience of the world.

    The data from [this thesis] suggests otherwise; that, instead, nationality remains the means by which the TCK experience is mediated, and contributes greatly to the self- and other-constructions of identity.

    Career choices and preferences remain for TCKs as for non-TCKs the means by which personal identity is expressed in interaction with surrounding cultures and organisations. For many, careers are the means by which TCKs may return to international lifestyles and expatriate culture.

    Finally, identity was constructed by many TCKs as being “unique”. This experience of uniqueness vacillated between experiences of ‘specialness’ and experiences of distance, and being set apart from peer communities. Many TCKs nurtured a sense of “uniqueness” in their adult lives, especially where time passing seemed engulf past markers of difference.”

Cason, R., 2015. ‘Third culture kids’: migration narratives on belonging, identity and place. Ph.D Thesis: Keele University. pp.234-5

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