Home. What is home? Where is home? Funny how important that question is.
Growing up I was never too worried about defining where home was. But as I got older, went to college, began establishing my own life — that is when the real struggle for me began. Of course growing up, people would ask me where I was from or where home was. Then, the question was more of an annoyance. They didn’t really know what they were asking. Once I went to college in the U.S., and especially when my parents moved overseas while I was in college, going “home” was very different. I no longer had friends at my new home, and yet, it was home. The TCK in me likes to think that I found a home in not having one, and to a certain degree that is true; change is the ironic constant in our lives. I have always thought that I have homes not houses. Where you are from or where is your home are questions people ask to relate to you, they ask to gain an understanding of where you come from; your history, your culture, maybe they know someone from the place you say you’re from…
So for TCKs there is no easy answer, if you answer honestly sometimes people get frustrated that you don’t pick just one place, but if you pick one place you are doing an injustice to the question, yourself and the person asking.
Throughout my life I have had different experiences with “home.” When I attended International Schools abroad, it seemed that no one asked this question, so I never really thought about it. When I moved from Turkey back to the U.S. for 8th grade, this is when my TCK upbringing hit the wall of American culture. I moved back to the house we bought when I was 3, the same community that we would go “home” to every summer. No one in my 8th grade class could grasp that I moved from Turkey but I wasn’t Turkish, and it completely baffled them that I had blonde hair and blue eyes. They didn’t relate to my lack of interest in pop culture, or that I didn’t have an IPod. They didn’t seem to care about the war in Iraq or anything happening in the Middle East. I found it difficult to make friends because I couldn’t relate, and to add more to that, I was a 12-year-old girl moving to America in the middle of middle school… All I could think about was the movie Mean Girls. I did eventually find a great group of friends but there was still a struggle for a sense of belonging. I missed my international schools where our common-ground was in our mobile lifestyle.
But these struggles with home and belonging are part of growing up for any kid – not just TCKs. That’s why I am surprised that my greatest struggle with “home” occurred recently (or maybe I think that because I’m going through it now…). As I mentioned before, I am a young professional in my mid-twenties and I’m currently establishing my own life- or trying to. I am at a cross-roads. Do I stay in the U.S. where I have established myself for the last 6 years or do I continue my nomadic life-style. I can no-longer piggy-back on my parents; soon “home” will be something I create, instead of where my parents live. But I don’t know where I want home to be, or how to get there. So much of who I am is a TCK. I don’t know if I can easily give up that lifestyle. But at the same time, I don’t know if I can do what my parents did. Being a child moving with your parents is one thing, moving as an adult is another. What kind of career works. Marriage and family criss-crossing the globe? Hmmm. . .