The Silver Lining

Happy Summer!!  (or winter, depending on which hemisphere you're in)  People here (in Portugal) keep telling me: "oh trust me, it'll get warm soon!".   ....yeah.  This is still colder than my winters (back in Tanzania).  Some co-workers took us to the beach one day and this is what happened.

What's wrong with this picture??
(I'll give you a hint: that's a hoodie)

Yes, I sat on the beach in a hoodie.  And no, I didn't get in the water.  After growing up in Africa, the weather here was just one of the many differences that I had to get used to.  (I'm not quite there yet, as you can see)  Moving is hard enough, but changing cultures, countries, and continents adds a different dimension to the struggle of transition; you now have to rethink your entire way of thinking, living, and even speaking.

I'll be the first one to say that Third Culture Kids (TCKs) go through more than most kids their age.  However, that doesn't mean we have a horrible childhood.  Not by a long shot.  There is a silver lining, sometimes not visible at first, but there nonetheless. 

To start with something simple: we get to see the world.  My country count is 13 so far, with four more in the next year.  I never would have been able to travel this frequently if I wasn't a TCK!  My sisters and I have the craziest experiences and memories, all over the world.  We have:

rode bikes along the canals of Amsterdam
hiked to the top of the second
highest waterfall in the world

danced across medieval castle walls
danced with a South Sudanese tribe
 during their church service
seen every African savannah
animal possible

Played pretend bakery
in the ruins of Pompeii
swam in a desert oasis
slid down the stair rails
in Notre Dame

pet cheetahs and
baby black rhinos
walked down an Initiation Well
for the Knights Templar

visited a Franciscan chapel of bones


When we talk about our travels and experiences, I promise we're not trying to boast.  Traveling is our childhood, to the point where we sort memories and people by countries.
Not only do we have memories all over the world, we have family and friends scattered across the globe.  People in four different countries have become family to me, whether they are the generous grandparents in South Africa, the crazy cousins in Tanzania, the unruly uncles in Portugal, or the amazing aunts in America.  As missionary kids, we have family all over the world.  We have the friends we talk to in the morning before school, the ones that are always messaging during school hours, and the ones that would wake us up at night if our ringers were on.  Time zones are a daily part of our lives.
Missing people is also a reoccurring theme, but that is a small price to pay for our global family. 
Meeting people all around the world leads to an inevitable understanding of cultures.  This can only be gained through experience--something that TCKs are not lacking in.  Third Culture Kids grow up immersed in cultures, learning how to navigate between religions, customs, and traditions from a young age.  This is a skill highly sought after in global companies, which gives TCKs a rare advantage in the international business world. 

These all come with a price.  To say hello to all those new friends, we first had to say goodbye to old ones.  To experience all those incredible things around the world, we first had to give up our old way of living.  To adapt in different cultures, we first had to leave the culture that was dearest to us. 

This leads me to my last silver lining: the one found in our grief.  We've said goodbye to people, cultures, and countries.  Our grief fades into homesickness, restlessness, and the dull ache of loss.  This grief teaches us how to adapt; it teaches us how to accept change and loss, without crumbling under the weight of it.  We're adaptable.  In an ever-changing world, we've mastered the art of accepting change.  From our hardest obstacle comes our brightest silver lining. 

 The grief that TCKs experience is discussed all the time.  The silver lining isn't mentioned nearly as much, and I'm here to remind you that it's there.  Yes, I've given up three homes, soon to be a fourth as I go off to college.  I've said more goodbyes than I'm willing to count, and I still have days where I wake up in the wrong country.  But God has given me a life that I wouldn't trade for anything. 

"When you move from one country to another, you have to accept that there are some things that are better and some things that are worse, and there is nothing you can do about it." ~Bill Bryson

P.S. Blogger refuses to let me edit the phone template of the post, so I'm sorry for the random spaces between the pictures on the computer format.  Unfortunately, that was the only way to get it looking semi-normal on the phone!


  1. Well expressed! I am also a TCK and I appreciate being reminded of the silver lining.


Post a Comment