“Not the ones speaking the same language, but the ones sharing the same feeling understand each other”
I love this quotation… the pedantic in me rebels slightly, for I do think language matters – hugely – and the loss of language is especially traumatic… but I adore the sentiment that shared experience has the power to connect people otherwise separated by language, culture, or life circumstance.
It could be said that our experiences are only good in so much as they serve to connect us with those around us. They are also key to our increased understanding of ourselves and the world around us, of course, but that in turn doesn’t lead us to increased interconnectivity with the people and communities around us, we may simply stay personally enriched, but isolated, failing to share the wealth of experience to the benefit of a wider community.
For Third Culture Kids, the message often received is that our global experiences are best employed to further the interests of a growing global community, an increased sense of international humanitarianism, and global citizenship. This may well be the case. I’m interested, however, in the ways in which international experiences may connect with local experiences, enriching not only the local contributor (as is often assumed) but the international contributor also.
I remember a conversation with a new friend who was leaving the area… “I’ll miss you,” she said. “I feel like we’ve been able to discuss anything and everything… and that’s not often the case for me”. I pointed out that her background was as transitory as mine, in many ways, though for different reasons. Her homes had been many, though all in the UK, whilst mine had been further flung. I said, “We both have learnt to skip the small talk, and quickly assess if someone is ‘safe’ or not… and then we go deep. That’s the way our backgrounds have programmed us.” She laughed, and nodded and I was struck once again by how these bridges exist to connect us, through shared experiences in unlikely places.
Are you surrounded by people who don’t seem to ‘get’ you? Similar emotional journeys may be shared, though the particulars of the experience may differ wildly. How much can we harness empathy to connect to those around us?