Every time I come back, I resettle all over again.
Unfortunately, transition is not a myth. It’s a smack-in-the-face, lay-you-out-flat REALITY.
Everyone—literally everyone—goes through transition. It’s not unique to the TCK or cross-cultural experience. Whether it's transition from a family of two to a family of three, from one house, job, city, classroom, etc., to another, everyone has experienced it, or will someday.
The difference in the cross-cultural or TCK world is that frequency and cultural differences acutely heighten the experience.
Are you familiar with the transition bridge? Here’s an image to refresh your memory.
This would be what typical transition looks like, with the “settled” phase nicely shaping the beginning and the end. Yes, chaos exists in every transition, but for most there’s an end, where the bridge leads back to a state of feeling settled.
Here’s my “bridge”:
That's right. It’s not so much a bridge as a never-ending infinity loop of transition. Weaving in and out of settled, unsettled, resettling and chaos, the life I’ve chosen is by definition transitional.
People come in and out of my life. Hellos and goodbyes are common place. I come and go, and new adventures and experiences await around every corner. Growing up, my family and I would leave Guatemala every two years or so, just for the summer, but it shifted the balance of stability in me, instilling a minor element of chaos in what I considered normal life. Favorite teachers arrived and left again, best friends came and went. If settled means a condition that's at least semi-permanent, I don’t know if that section has ever belonged on my bridge.
Some TCKs may have a very different experience, and their bridge might completely different from mine. Some have lived in the same house for 18 years, only living in one city or place. They might be like, no way, this bridge is not for me.
They may not have felt this state of transition, but maybe others in their lives have.
Some know exactly how I feel and would take ownership of this “infinity” bridge, wondering where something like this has been all their lives.
Despite the constant flux of transition in my life, there’s an upside—a #tckperk, if you will. While most might take a year to complete this bridge, it takes me roughly a month. My transition phase is like the life of a fruit fly: dramatic and short.
One day I think that I could have a “normal” bridge. But for now I am thankful for the ability to recognize transition and weather the chaos with (hopefully) an ounce of grace.
What does your bridge look like?