I wrote the pseudo-poem in blue below during a particularly dark mood. I think the darkness brought to surface questions that go on deep inside me about who I am. In that moment, I decided that I wouldn’t make my children TCKs (how long that decision will last, time only will tell :))

This constant questioning about myself has great positive side effects – I get along with people particularly well, because I am able to put myself aside. I can get along with people that have been labelled ‘difficult’ by others.

But it has serious down-sides – at least, I think they are serious. Because I don’t know if I am being used, or being the ‘user’. At home, I don’t know if I’m doing my fair share of the dishes. Career-wise, I don’t know if I am earning less than others who have similar abilities to me – am I belittling my skills, or making too much of them? Also, in most conflict with other people, I find it very easy to blame myself.

I’ve titled it The Problem That Is Oneself, and wonder if it is a particularly TCK trait or not. Perhaps it isn’t even a TCK trait, but simply something that I am.

Perhaps the problem is that I don’t question myself enough… Perhaps I’m seriously blinkered, and don’t see how much my self intrudes.

There! See? That’s the questioning in action.

That’s it.

I can’t do this to my kids.

I refuse to pass on to them this particular TCK legacy.

Forever looking on from the outside. Judging, evaluating oneself.

The constant wondering if one is okay.

Continually questioning if one is taking too much air-time.

Never knowing if one should simply remove said self. Spare others the annoyance, the problem, or the downright pain of having to put up with whoever one is.

Why should my children have to spend the rest of their lives wondering if they are a problem?

7 Responses to “The problem that is oneself”

  1. I’m only 21 but the problem so freaks me out that , I’ve decided to have non, and keep being single:(

  2. i dont know any other life besides this one… ive been on a plane since i was 3 months. and yea its lonely sometimes cuz people see you differently but truth is i love my highly mobile life and wouldnt have it any other way. im pretty keeen on wanting my kids to grow up the same way..

  3. Hi Lynzi and Fel, thanks so much for stopping by!

    It’s been some months since I wrote that post – the last few years have been a journey of discovering myself, and processing through my upbringing. I think as I get to know my children more (they are 6 and 4 now), I realize that this highly mobile life does have advantages too. I wouldn’t for anything give up the experiences of living and breathing in Africa, South Asia, and Europe as a child.

    I think our parents (mine anyway) were woefully unprepared for this life, and so were not able to help me healthily integrate those aspects of me that I now struggle with. I think we will be different, simply because we have been through it.

    Keep talking and connecting with others, both non-TCK and TCKs

    And good luck with your own individual journeys!

  4. I know it has been a while since you wrote this. I know you’ve started to see the benefits of a TCK life. I grew up monoculturally (more or less) and have asked myself the same questions that you bring up in your poem. I think it’s part of being human. It may be that being a TCK exacerbates the feelings, but I don’t think they’re the sole property of TCKs.

    Great blog! I’ll definitely be back.

  5. So interesting! I see this strongly both in my hubby and my daughter, but no nearly as much in my son and I. Part of it is certainly our personality, but I notice that I’ve also learned a bit of ‘concern for others opinions’ through travelling (this is a good thing for an American!). It is inherent to who my daughter is – she’s 8 and has a strong sense of decorem and appropriateness, and I wish my son had more. I think it’s great to be aware of how your background shaped you so that you can help your kids likewise understand the influences that they’re encountering. We haven’t successfully dampened our personalities yet, though we do seem to have had some success in helping our kids understand who we are.

    My daughter was stewing about something minor yesterday that my husband insisted she do, and I pointed out to her, “Sweetheart, you know that even though your father expresses his opinion strongly, he’s really a pretty flexible guy when it comes down to it, right?” She looked at my in relief and grinned – clearly understanding this point about her beloved father.

    At the same time, I applaud that you’ve identified brokenness from your background that you don’t want to pass on to your kids. Healing and redemption are such precious gifts.

  6. In my eyes the problem that is oneself is in essence the solution to most of your questions you propose here. You appear to always perceive yourself in a subjective manner that is relative to something else. This comparative mind frame can be extremely confusing and frustrating for a TCK, because it requires the knowledge of what is “normal”. How can you define what is normal when normal is always evolving with context? This question applies to everyone but it is extremely pertinent to TCK’s because our upbringing never allowed for a sense of normal to exist.
    I believe that the most proactive, yet most difficult lens to see through is the objective one. However as a TCK you innately develop this mind frame because you are always ostracized from what your mind comes to understand as normal, and forced to adapt to a new situation (culture). This constant reformation offers TCK’s an amazing skill set that can be utilized in many facets of adult life. Harnessing the ability to step away from a situation and see it from an objective view will give you the full spectrum of solutions; and perhaps the views that others may take on the situation as well. I utilize this unique tool and the experiential knowledge that I have gained through traveling to try and embrace the frustrations of being a TCK and turn them into skills. I encourage you to have another look at the amazing experiences that you have been through in your life and try to see how each one of these opportunities has shaped your perception of the world. While there is nothing wrong with accepting a complacent or simple lifestyle the constant challenge of adaptation is what makes us so unique and this is the message that I, as a TCK, try to convey to other TCK’s and individuals out there.
    I hope this perspective helps and I will have a domain up and running in about a month for the photography from my life travels and my story if you or anyone is interested!
    I enjoyed your story.


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