I remember when I first encountered the term ‘Third Culture Kid’. I was reading Pollock and van Reken’s book, and the tears just fell as I felt the relief many of us feel when we realise that we finally make sense! My sense of who I was and how I experienced the world, no longer felt lonely or ‘broken’. There were others like me and we had a collective identity – we were Third Culture Kids.
Except sometimes I didn’t fit. Sometimes being a TCK seemed to mean doing or saying or thinking things that I didn’t. Was I doing being a TCK wrong?
I hear similar concerns from clients at times. Is there a right way to be a TCK? By doing x, y, or z, am I doing my identity wrong?
Which came first? The person who is a TCK, or the TCK identity? The chicken or the egg?
You cannot fail at your identity.
Your identity is something you do; it is the egg. You come first, as the chicken (!) You can have many identities (or eggs!) – and Third Culture Kid may only be one of them. You may also identify as a member of a particular gender (or none). Or you may identify as having a chronic illness (joining other Spoonies in their collective identity too). You will also identify as a member of a particular racial or ethnic group. You have a nerd identity, a crafter identity, an identity as a particular family member or school attendee, or colleague. You have many eggs! Third Culture Kid may be a big one (think Ostrich!) but You, your Self, comes first.
The TCK identity is largely freeing, nurturing, welcoming and illuminating. It gives us a particular perspective on how our experiences have shaped our sense of Self. As soon as it moves away from illuminating who we are as a whole person, and begins to blind us instead – then it’s forgotten its place.
You can’t get this wrong. You can’t be a TCK ‘wrong’. You are You, who also happens to be a TCK.
Would you like to explore your Third Culture Kid identity and how it impacts on your sense of Self? Get in touch today to book a free consultation; I would be honoured to hear your story.