A question for my fellow TCKs – why do you love being a TCK? What makes it so proud-worthy for you? There could be many different answers to this. I am going to safely assume that one of the popular answers would be our “unique, hetero-cultural identity.” However, what if you were to lose that very characteristic and revert back to just one cultural identity? To me, that’s quite frightening.
That was my main fear when I moved back to Korea. The idea of “going back home” felt like an end to my TCK life. It felt like all opportunities to live abroad again evaporated. I thought the multi-cultural values will be replaced with the ones back home and I would lose the characteristics that made me a TCK. I was convinced that I would no longer be a TCK. As you can tell, my train of thoughts mushroomed and exploded to a cloud of panic.
10 months after coming back home (wow, time sure flies!), with all honesty, I feel pretty comfortable where I am and the anxiety has definitely diminished. I don’t feel as worried about “losing my TCK identity.” Over time, I have come to terms with this thought by telling myself that it is all a part of the transitional phase. There were numerous factors involved to help my transition, but I wanted to shine light on two that helped the most in changing things around:
– change in perspective –
In all problematic cases, it’s your perspective that will conquer all or burn everything to the ground. When you focus on the negatives it’s so easy to just dig one hole and get stuck. So before it gets so that point, it’s important to turn your head and look at the positive aspects. The negatives usually overshadow the positives, making it hard to find at first. Listing them out on a piece of paper helps so they don’t fly away from your mind. Once you have them down, focus on those positives and really try to make them a part of your life. After a while, your outlook will gradually shift and you’ll definitely notice the changes.
For instance, while I was feeling down, I tried to find things that are better in Korea than the other places I’ve lived in. Even small things counted. For instance, how convenient and clean public transportation was here. Or quality skincare or makeup items. Slowly, I started to open my eyes towards other things that alleviated my situation. It’s baby steps, but undoubtedly do-able.
– you can’t part with your identity that easily –
As much as TCKs have gone through so many different countries, cultures, languages, etc. there is always a constant deeply rooted in us – the fact that we are TCKs. This means that no matter where we are our multi-cultural background and understanding will always be an inseparable part of us. And as much as this post addresses the fear of losing this, just remember that it’s not something that disappears that easily. Growing up, our constant moving, adapting to new places, making new friends and all those hardships and memories served as solid building blocks to who we are today. And that is not going anywhere. This dawned upon me one day, and it definitely helped me clear up some confusion and worries. Because it was true – coming back home wasn’t going to change who I am. It’s a process of adapting, assimilating, and just having fun with the situation you’re put in. Oh wait, I’ve been doing that my whole life! 😉
Last but not least, I have said this before but keep in mind that you’re not alone. I have met and talked to people and I ended up befriending those that had similar backgrounds as I do! You’ll be surprised.
With that said, do you have any other tips on getting over such anxiety? Or have you experienced anything similar?