Dr. Rachel Cason
Adult Third Culture Kid, and TCK researcher and therapist
My life story begins in West Africa, where I was born and raised, coming to live in England indefinitely at the age of 16. I grew up with first hand experience of complex life histories and chameleon identities.
In fact, I am a Third Culture Kid, one of many who, because of their parents’ occupation, spent a significant portion of their formative years in one or more countries outside their passport country, or country of nationality. Sometimes we are referred to as global nomads, expatriate kids, or variously: missionary kids, military brats, or business kids.
I grew up transient, with change as my constant. I lived a privileged life in many ways, and benefited from a plethora of experiences denied many of my more settled peers. In fact, I felt competent to handle most of what my spinning world threw my way. It was when the world stopped spinning that I got dizzy.
I discovered the term, “Third Culture Kid” a year after I had ‘returned’ to my passport country. A year of stillness in this country was a unit of time that I felt comfortable managing, but as the year came to its end with no removal in sight, I had started to struggle. The discovery of this term, this name for myself, was a revelation, as it is for many of you. I wept through much of van Reken and Pollock’s “Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds”, and was astonished at the understanding and sympathy I felt with its stories, despite the variances between my experiences and their authors’. And this moment, at the beginning of my second consecutive year in my passport country, was what marked the beginning of two significant projects.
One project took me towards sociology, and academia. Here I was able to explore further a phenomenon that confounds much of our understanding of community and commonality; how it is that otherwise unrelated children and adults can share experiences of mobility despite their stories differing along lines of race, gender, ethnicity, citizenship and location(s). You can read my full doctorate here.
The other project was more personal. Here I recognised that being able to live in a country was not the same thing as being ‘at home’ in a country, and that I was going to have to move beyond my well-honed, if short-term, strategies if I was to be able to live happily in it long-term. In short, I had all the skills of a nomadic life under my belt. Now I needed to add another, the ability to settle.
It has not been easy. Now in my 30s, it is plain to see that the high levels of transition experienced in childhood have continued into my adult life, encompassing marriage, motherhood, divorce, single parenthood, and multiple house moves. These transitions have continued to challenge me to nurture rootedness in my present day life, and I have felt privileged to discover the incomparable value of honing new skills, skills of settledness.
These ‘settledness skills’ are ones I am now privileged to share with those who have embarked on their own projects – projects to bring fragmented selves into wholeness, projects of belonging and rootedness and community, projects that build relationship with place.
If you would like to know more about Life Story, please contact me to arrange a free initial consultation.