Ever since I was young, I knew I didn’t fit in. Growing up in school, I was always considered the shy, quiet kid who looked different, acted different, and, on the few occasions when I did open my mouth to speak, seemed to have nothing much to say.
However, all this changed when I got to university. It seemed like independence was something that was actually appreciated, and being different was considered more interesting. I began to embrace my identity as a South Asian, born and raised in Australia, to parents who were expats and weren’t citizens of the country I called home. It became apparent to me that my unique ability to bridge the gap between the culture of my ethnic homeland and the reality of the place I called home could somehow coalesce into a more adventurous beginning of my journey in life.
Somehow, though, the thought remained that I still couldn’t quite fit in. As I travelled to California for the first time at the tender age of 21, I realized that I had to start all over again—a new country I had never been to, my first time living alone, not knowing anyone I could call a friend. Yet this reality was fast becoming a norm for me, an indication of life’s unpredictability and uncertainty. It certainly wasn’t the first time I was thrown into the deep end, and it surely wouldn’t be the last.
I somehow survived my two-year stint overseas, but nowadays, I have grown accustomed to the fact that living a life as a third-culture-kid, where neither your upbringing overseas, nor your life as a citizen of a different country, can really encapsulate who you are as a person. Mine is still a story in the making. I realized I had to make the conscious decision to make my existence matter to other people, more than just myself; I wanted to use my story as a springboard to make a difference in the lives of others.
So it was with great trepidation—and might I add, excitement—that I recently returned to the land of my father and mother, and spent the last year or so reconnecting with my roots. Sure, I have been able to find a way to use my business background to work with an IT company in India, but I have also been able to culturally, relationally, and spiritually grow and mature as a person whose outlook on life is far from the shy kid in high school with little to say.
Now, when I come across a fellow TCK, I learn to speak their “language,” in a way, by recognizing who they are, and who they aren’t, all while finding similarities and unique differences, too. In this way, we benefit from our shared story, though our paths often seem to converge in a fascinating and uniquely special way. I hope you, too, as a traveler on this journey called life, find a way to navigate your pathway to touch a person’s life for the better, and hopefully you are a better TCK because of it.