“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
Throughout their lives, each person must learn to take the good with the bad. In many ways, Charles Dickens’ ever-so-famous opening line accurately describes the characteristics and trials of one’s life, more specifically the life of a third culture kid (TCK).
Living in different places and learning about other cultures are major advantages for TCKs. However, with the adventure come hard goodbyes, loneliness, confusion, and simply feeling out of place. Being a TCK certainly brings the best of times and the worst of times. Out of these varied experiences comes a significant development in one’s character. Having the ability to adapt to various situations, people, and environments is an admirable result of living in different countries.
Similar to a chameleon, TCKs do their best to blend into their environment. Since they have to do this quite often, they become increasingly skilled at adapting over time.
Being a TCK myself, I have learned to adapt to a variety of people and cultures, but it never gets easier. What many people do not consider about the life of a TCK is that they are constantly adapting while simultaneously feeling attached to the places they have lived before. TCKs still hold on to the place they left, but they also have to keep pushing to adapt to a new country.
Having to deal with just leaving everything you knew and loved behind and trying to adjust to a new culture can become overwhelming for a TCK. However, since adaptability has been built up as a skill, they learn to press on.
Furthermore, practically speaking, not only is adaptability a useful trait for TCK life, it is vital for thriving in college and a career. Since TCKs have to learn to adapt to their surroundings and cultures that differ from their own, it is no surprise that adjusting to college or new jobs is a skill that comes more easily to them. However, everyone has their own story of adapting to a new change in their life, and everyone can use some tips on how to do so from time to time.
Here is a list of tips to help TCKs and others when learning to adapt. Firstly, express any emotions towards the change. Do not suppress them. Secondly, build strong, encouraging friendships. Thirdly, begin writing a prayer journal. Fourthly, use the time to get closer to God. Do not let go of him. One of the most important pieces of advice when going through a drastic change is to cling to the One that will never change. God is a constant presence and person who will never leave or change despite what is going on in one’s life.
Though life may be a rollercoaster of changes and emotions, God is steadfast. It is important to cling to him in the midst of troubled times rather than the things of earth that will fade away. Psalms 102: 17-25 provides encouragement as the author writes, “Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end” (ESV). Amidst the changing seasons of life, God’s steadfast presence and love will always be there to provide comfort.
“Chameleon Changing Colors.” YouTube, uploaded by Fun and Positive TV, 6 Mar 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qRxauK-LjQ
Dickens, C., n.d. A Tale Of Two Cities. London, p.1. by Charles Dickens
Habben, David. Zwischenmiete. 2009, https://denizenmag.com/2009/11/zwischenmiete-renting-a-space-you-will-soon-leave/.