Author Archives: James R. Mitchener

About James R. Mitchener

I was born in Milton Keynes, England, but have jumped all over the world my entire life, living in America, Hong Kong, Singapore, and France, spending multiple stints in Hong Kong and America. Now, I'm a Content Developer, a Consultant, an SEO specialist, an Author, a TCK Public Speaker, and an inhabitant of Raleigh, North Carolina. This is not my home, but for now, it's where I live. Who knows how long I'll stay here, but it won't be forever. I'm James R. Mitchener, and I'm a Third Culture Kid. Connect with me on Google

Can We Endure?

Can-We-Endure

I have a lot of faith that, while this post will be very much outside the wheelhouse of Third Culture Kid Life as a whole, that this reader-base is the exact one to understand my thought process. We’re going to get a little sci-fi up in Third Culture Kid Life today, not as much as you’d think in the grand scheme of things, but even with sci-fi as a theme we’re going to do so with a grounding in cultural adaptation. At the core, that’s what this mental exercise is about. Ultimately, it’s the culture of humanity as a whole that will be the deciding factor in how you think about this problem, but this post isn’t just about TKCs. It’s about all of humanity. And to be frank, it was sparked through recent conversations in my life from discussions about SpaceX and Batman, sorry, I mean Elon Musk, trying to build colonies to save us from being trapped here on Earth.

So I have a question for you. One I want you to consider as the cultural adapter you are, having watched so many people and absorbed so many cultures in your developmental years. I want you to look back at everything you’ve seen, everything you’ve experienced, consider how you’ve seen the world interact with itself and how communities and leaders prioritize the lives of those around them, and then do your best to take a look forward at how we’re progressing as a species trapped sharing a world. I want to know the answer to this seemingly simple question, and I’d like you to answer now before you continue reading into my thoughts of the situation:

Does our species, in our current state and with where we are currently heading, have the capacity to survive and endure?

Think about it for a moment, and decide on an answer. And if you want to push the button a little further, why don’t you consider this moral side of the equation as well:

If we do have the capacity to survive and endure, do we deserve to?

The simple concept of spreading our species across the galaxy is the only way to ensure, in the event of total planetary destruction, that we do not disappear from existence. It’s a noble goal, one that is met with real threat given the multiple mass extinction events our planet has endured in its lifetime and the harsh reality that should one come again, we would not survive. In that simple moment, humanity would be wiped out.

But the question runs deeper than that. There are other elements to consider, too. Take, for example, the fact that all intelligent species are required to pass a pinnacle moment in their evolution in which the entire species possesses the knowledge to eradicate the entire species, and as an entire species, they must make the decision not to. That fact is a basic inevitability of scientific advancement. The advent of nuclear technology was the first time humanity, in its entire history, held the power to eradicate all life across the planet with the push of a button. But that technology and the power it possesses is entirely controlled. Science doesn’t stop with nuclear technology.

So what does this mean? Take nanotechnology, which for those who aren’t aware is the development of microscopic robots that can self replicate based on a certain code. Robots that build themselves, and do so by attacking a certain thing. They are being looked at as potential cures to everything, with the capability to say, self replicate on cancer cells, they would continue to grow and spread throughout your body eating bad cells until none are left, and then they’d die with nothing left to replicate on.

That same technology could be used to eradicate all life on Earth. If you were to, say, code it to replicate on carbon, then it would consume every carbon-based life-form (that’s all life) on this planet without any way to stop it.

But that’s not where this problem ends. The simple advancement of knowledge means that more information becomes more readily available every single day. There will, barring the event we regress instead of continue forward in technological development, be a time where the ability to create this technology or something even worse, will be taught at a grade-school level. Unlike nuclear options where the materials are hard to develop and even harder to deploy, technology like nano-bots could be something that a third grade science classroom could create, code, and release. It may not be that. It may be something else entirely. But one day, we will discover knowledge that allows us to effectively delete all life, and one day further down the line, that knowledge will be available to every single human on Earth, just by the nature of scientific progress.

That’s where this question comes into play. One day, we as a species will have the ability to answer it. Everyone on Earth will have the capacity to destroy everyone else. Mutually assured destruction not just in the hands of world leaders, but in the hands of every single living, breathing, thinking person on the planet, with the tools and resources available to anyone to wipe out everything we have ever known. This is why I ask you this question, my cultural specialists, why I want to know what you think about the inevitability of this crossroads in intelligence. It’s a crossroads any intelligent species would inevitably face, and one that we will too be forced to endure at some point in our future.

Does our species, in our current state and with where we are currently heading, have the capacity to survive and endure? Do we have the capability to have the knowledge in the hands of every single human to eradicate all life, and yet make the conscious and deliberate choice not to do it?

I don’t think we do. Our species has empathy, but empathy only extends as far as our neighbor in the grand scheme of life. The world can be a terrible place, where horrible things happen to countless numbers of people, but we, as a species, have the ability to turn off that empathy because it does not directly impact us or those we love. We care passionately about those we know, we may even go out of our way to help those we don’t know, but every single one of us knows our empathy lessens the further from home negative events transpire. It is why acts of empathy to strangers go viral so often, why a homeless man getting bought shoes by a police officer spreads across the internet like wildfire. Because in the end, the vast majority of people, while seeing the value and kindness in that empathy, would not have done it.

I do not believe we are fit to endure until we overcome our empathy block. I don’t think we deserve to, either. Until we can love everyone like we love those immediately in our empathy circle, we do not belong among the stars. The universe does not need our hatred, our malice, and our pain. We can be a brutal species who is only just learning to walk the fields of peace and empathy. We have barely put our foot in the water, and we cannot be trusted to not act in our own, individual, best interest. Not now. Not as we are.

I hope that one day that changes. I believe that it could, with the willingness of our species to embrace that change. I think technology can help us achieve that goal. I think that making a species-wide decision to self-evolve would be the first step towards bettering ourselves. We would have to consciously decide to change our humanity, to become more than what we are today. But as we are right now, as human kind, I do not think we possess the ability to survive with the knowledge of destruction.

But if our species were to stay as it is right now, selfish and fearful as we are, I think we would deserve what we could bring upon ourselves.

I just hope we can change before it’s too late.

But you answered the question too, my cultural geniuses. Tell me, what do you think? I want to know where we stand as a group. I want to see the hope in the words of my fellow TCKs who have seen so much of how beautiful people can be, and also how terrible we can be. What, to you, is our path to success? How does humanity earn its right to survive in the universe with all the potential that sits before us?

______________

Author of TCK Life

Post By: James R. Mitchener

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Cover Vote

Hey TCK Life Reader! I need your help!

If you’ve read recently, you know I’m converting Third Culture Kid Life into a book called Third Culture Kid Life: Twenty Something where I’m publishing every single article in this collection written throughout my twenties and then writing a follow-up “looking back” segment at the end talking about my thoughts on that piece today. It has been a blast so far reading the work and responding in a way I’ve never done before, and as of today I’m just shy of 30 chapters of 50. Now, I need your help!

Below you’ll find two cover options. I need you to vote and tell me what your favourite is. I’m struggling between a graphical look and a photographic look. I want you to let me know, as readers of TCK Life, which one represents the life and mind of a TCK the best. I appreciate your help, and it means a lot! To satisfy any potential curiosity: yes, that’s a picture of my brother and me.

twenty-something-front-cover-picturetwenty-something-front-cover-graphic-1

 

Be Heard

be-heardI’ve been writing for TCKs for a decade now, and during that time I have watched the global trend of globalized thought shift to an incredibly positive outlook on humanity as a whole. I have been full of pride in my interactions with so many FCKs who have grown up from generations built on oppression who have opened their minds to a more unified way of thinking, embracing the necessity of innovation and adaptation to provide an avenue for a world in which we as humans are stronger because of an inherent desire to embrace difference rather than fear and oppress it.

As a global nomad, the past week has been incredibly hard for me. I’m sure it has been hard for many TCKs, honestly. The TCK community I have most contact with seems to be reflecting that sentiment heavily, but you might be different to the majority. If so, I respect that, and I humbly invite you to tell me why, as a TCK and global nomad, the past week has not been troubling for you.

For the rest of us out there, I wanted to tell you a few things:

First, I’m coming back. I’ve been gone too often lately pouring my time into my work and neglecting this arena built to encourage globalized thought and provide information for TCKs and the families and friends of TCKs alike by opening up insight into the inner workings of a TCK mind.  This place was created as a safe space where you could ask me anything you wanted about being a TCK and not having a home or knowing where I belong, and my absence has gone on long enough. This past week has made me realize more than ever that something we need right now as people who live by globalization is a safe space. Third Culture Kid Life has been an avenue for dialogue and information sharing since its inception, and it’s time I bring that back.

Second, I want to promise you that I will not censor my words for fear of oppression, hatred, or any other reason. I do not like being political, I quite often find a significant amount of cross-party understanding in my views, and I am capable of drawing good from bad in most instances. But what the world is facing now, even if you aren’t living in America or have a passport from this country, is a leader who does not care about minorities, globalization, foreign policy, and worst of all, open communication. Censorship is already rampant, fueled by the office of the president, in a country that is supposed to be free. So, while I do not enjoy being political here, this isn’t about politics anymore. This is about the future of globalization and the core values that I, as a Third Culture Kid, believe in. And this collection, after all, is about the mind of one particular TCK. This TCK wants you to know what it looks like to him as the world he has dreamt of, one he slowly watched form over the years despite so many struggles and hardships, gets stripped away.

Third, I want to encourage you to use your voice for reason based on facts, not fiction. It is clear now, only a week into the next four years, that scientific thought and reason are no longer welcome in this country. The quest for knowledge was challenged constantly during the campaigns by the same man now sitting in the white house, and those challenges are now being put to extreme use. More than ever, you need to use your freedom to speak, and you need to use it with a basis of fact, reason, and logic. In a week, we have seen government agencies put in place for the benefit of the people be told they can no longer communicate with the public, that they cannot communicate with the press, and they cannot publish any scientific data without getting the approval of the white house who has no right or ability to vet the quality of that research.

This collection was designed to give TCKs without a home three things. First, a space where someone would tell them things that would hopefully make them see that the experiences they are struggling with aren’t just normal for a TCK, they are struggles that will one day become sources of empowerment. Second, an avenue for you to openly communicate with a TCK who will hold nothing back from you, answering any questions you want without bias. And third, a place of understanding for your friends and family to help you explain what it’s like to be you without requiring you to open yourself up in the capacity I have chosen to do.

This collection was built to bring people together. And today, as I feel myself becoming increasingly overcome with grief and concern for my love of this world, the people in it, and the pursuit of knowledge to better serve everyone on this planet, I am reminded heavily why I started writing here. I wanted to bring us together in my small way to support a global thought process. I wanted to do my part to make a better world for you. And no matter what happens going forward, I will not stop voicing my unwavering desire to build that world.

More than anything, I want you to know that I’m here for you, no matter what.

__________

Author of TCK LifePost by: James R. Mitchener

Third Culture Kid Life: A Book [UPDATE 2017-01-10]

tck-life-a-bookI’m turning 30 soon. This month, in fact. It doesn’t really mean anything to me personally. It’s just another rotation around the sun I’ve experienced, tallying 30. Well, actually, thanks to the Gregorian calendar not being entirely accurate, it’s probably going to be a little more than 30 years if you were to average out all the added seconds and minutes we’ve received. Or is it less? I don’t remember, I did the math once on how the past 30 years relative to me based on additions, subtractions, and alterations compounded by the incorrect value of a year impacted my time on earth in rotations around the sun, but I have no memory of the outcome. I probably did the math wrong too if we’re honest.

But that’s not the point, As usual, I’ve digressed. The point is, I had an idea. I’ve been writing this collection and The Illusive Home for a decade now. Granted, The Illusive Home is done, but it was the start of this, the realization that I was never done writing about the perspective of a TCK as he progressed through his life. So, like I said, I had an idea, one that I’ve been working on for a while now that I’m hoping to have completed just as I turn 30.

I’m turning the past decade’s worth of work into a book. That’s right, TCK Life, the digital collection, is going to become Third Culture Kid Life: Twenty Something. The objective is to take everything I wrote in my 20s and publish it as one cohesive collection, starting from the beginning and working to today. But that’s not all, because then I’d just be printing the internet and there’s no point in doing that. So, I’ve made some additions.

I’ve always said on here I’m not going to explain myself for my words. I’ll offer guidance, but if you draw a theme or an idea that’s yours. It helps you connect to the experiences if you do it that way. But there’s a lot of depth behind some of these pieces I’ve written that you don’t know all the details for. So, for every piece that ends up in the book, it’ll be followed with an explanation of the moment, looking back, from me. Each article you’ve read on TCK Life will have the look-back of a man at the end of his 20s, transitioning into another decade of TCK Life writing, and see what I think of these words, these experiences, today. Some of them will be looking as far back as 9 years ago. Others, will be looking back to this year.

I’ve already written some of these and I have to say I’ve enjoyed it. It’s neat looking back at the things I used to talk about, worry about, the problems I was facing at the time, and how they shaped me into the person writing now. But what’s most exciting is how that shapes this collection.

Third Culture Kid Life has always been about showing you what a TCK thinks and feels from the perspective of me. I’m just one in the field of many, and while I use central themes to the TCK experience, I leverage my personal experiences to inform other TCKs that they’re not alone in the roller coaster of adult TCK life they’re experiencing. More importantly, parents of existing and developing TCKs are a large chunk of my readership. Reading where I am now, and what I think of the past comments as I stand today might offer even further insight into the expectations of the TCK their developing, and that could be really helpful.

So, I wanted to let you know it was coming, and that I’m not done here. We’re about to start a whole new decade of my life, which means you’re going to get writings about what it’s like from a 30 something TCK as well. I don’t feel any different personally, but looking back, a lot has changed. And that, to me, is quite exciting.

I’ll also be writing a book exclusive article that’s about the end of my 20s and a summary of my life as a TCK so far, which will talk about changes in the world, changes in myself, and how I’ve seen myself evolve as a TCK over the years in reflection. Also, there’s an introduction that’s entirely unique, so there’s quite a bit of new content for my supporting readers looking to add the book to their bookshelf.

Thank you for all your support, and I’ll update this page with links as soon as the book is available. Oh, it’ll be both digital and paperback, so you pick if you’re interested.

Thanks again for all your support.

UPDATE: January 10, 2017 – So, it turns out this is going to be a longer project than expected, which is great news for my readers! My “Looking Back” portions as I’ve decided to name them are ending up as long as the articles themselves, in many cases longer. I’m also doing them on ever single piece, so we’re looking at double the content of what you’ve read so far, with every single article you’ve read here having its own “Looking Back” accompanying article about how I view that event, perception, or experience today.

Here’s My Brexit

Goodbye globalizationYou’re going to be reading a lot of articles about the British vote to exit the EU today, or as it is has been called to sound more flashy and less terrifying over the past months, the Brexit. You’re going to read a lot about how the economy is in turmoil, about how Britain has effectively thrown the world into a spiral, or foresight on what is going to happen with other EU member countries now that Britain has chosen to leave. They’re all right, and they’re all valid articles.

This isn’t one of those articles, though.

If this isn’t your first time here, then you know that I’m a Third Culture Kid (TCK). You know that this collection is about the world, about viewing it through the eyes of a TCK, about the beauty of travel and the connectivity of all of us in a rapidly globalizing society. You know that I write here to inspire confidence in fellow TCKs who have not crossed the threshold of their national identity crisis, to show them that in the end, they’ll find peace in knowing they aren’t a citizen of a country, that their lack of patriotism driven by a lack of national identity doesn’t make them weak, but makes them stronger. You know that this collection is, for the most part, full of love where it may fail to achieve inspiration.

This isn’t one of those articles, though.

You see, I’m about to go to bed tonight in my house in America, 4000 miles away from my birth country of England, and when I fall asleep, should I fall asleep, 51.8% of the people in the country I was born in, a country for which I too hold a passport, will be waking up feeling a sense of national pride, while 48.2% will be waking up feeling a sense of national shame. That being said, perhaps the stats of how the vote turned out will not directly reflect the emotions of those reading them when they see the state of the world they created, and I’m sure there will be plenty of articles covering exactly that.

This isn’t one of those articles, though.

This article is about what my birth country did to me today. It’s personal, but then, it’s also so much more than that. It’s international, is touches everyone, even those who will not share my pain or even understand my words, because today, I was robbed of something I have taken for granted for so many years; today my birth country stripped me of my passport to a significant chunk of the world, and it did so out of ignorance of economics, ignorance of international relations, and ignorance of globalization of the people of the world.

Today, England decided to go against everything the first world has been striving to achieve for the entire course of my 29 year life. It decided that walls were better built than torn down, that separation from a global market was better than working alongside it, and it decided that free transfer of persons across its boarders, in or out, was not the way of tomorrow.

You see, I hold a UK passport. And as a TCK, what happened today is devastating. Today marks the day that will begin the breaking of my access to the EU, that free trade of my person into any country of theirs, to live and work and contribute to the economy of culture and capital. Today, the country of my birth, the country I had so much pride in as a man of international identity because of its commitment to an open, expansive, globalized society that tore down walls and showed the world a new way to be better than the boarders we have chosen to imagine and the patriotism we hide behind, decided that the real path to our future lies in isolation.

Today, England built a wall around its society. And in doing so, it didn’t just steal access to the world from me, it stole the very idea of a world without boarders from everyone. And it did so with cheering crowds.

As an man of no national identity, as a man of the world, no as a child of the world, as a Third Culture Kid, I can think of no greater tragedy to the forward motion of internationalism and globalization to date than what Britain just did with roaring crowds and celebrations.

Today, for the first time in my life, I am ashamed to hold a passport to the United Kingdom.

Today, for the first time in my life, the country of my birth betrayed me by betraying the world.

And so here’s my Brexit: Goodbye, England. I can no longer call you “home,” whatever lack of a meaning that has for this wandering TCK, because no home of mine would sit behind a closed border watching globalization fail to thunderous applause.

__________

 

Author of TCK LifePost by: James R. Mitchener

What We Leave Behind

TCK Life What We Leave BehindLeaving our lives behind is a concept that is inherent in every single Third Culture Kid’s upbringing. As far as foundations are concerned, the idea that a departure is always imminent is probably the strongest baseline you can find in the highly jumbled subcultures of TCKs from around the world. TCKs share very little when it comes to the cultural developments that made them, but they are all so close in the foundations that built them into the people they became. They are built out of leaving their lives behind, built of loss, adoption, and absorption. Of starting again, and applying the lessons learned of the past to new and interesting cultures that surround them. And their ability to adapt, to bounce back from loss and create something new from the rubble of their previous lives is all because they started this journey learning that loss is always more than probably, it is inevitable.

Human kind lives in a world where society is still highly pocketed. Cultures exist within cultures, and many of those cultures rely and thrive on a degree of isolation. People cross cultural boarders more so than ever before, but in reality these borders still exist within the confines of an isolated and highly compartmentalized social and developmental structure. The world is getting smaller, but the rate of cultural adaptation hasn’t kept pace with humanity’s abilities to blur the lines within the cultures we inherit.

That is, with exception to those that have been thrust, most unwillingly, into the Third Culture.

The Third Culture is the closest we have come to defining human kind’s ability to embrace cultural adaptation. It starts with a core self identity crisis, in which a Third Culture Kid hits a wall in their lives where they suddenly realize that they are no longer truly a member of the culture of their parents’ culture. For some, this wall is mountainous to overcome. For others, it’s a small hurdle cleared with ease. But that realization hits every TCK at some point in their lives, and from that moment forward they will be tasked with the endless struggle of finding what it is that makes up their cultural identity.

From here, a TCK picks and chooses the pieces of his or her life that hold the most value to who they think they are. A little bit of culture “A,” a lot of culture “B,” and a dash of culture “C” all lends to the creation of a person who can transcend any culture they’ve touched, make themselves part of it, make themselves welcome and comfortable, but never truly becoming a completely interwoven part of the culture itself. This picking and choosing allows for the cross pollination of cultural ideas from a party that the impacted culture can trust, while offering a sponge of cultural absorption in the TCK who will carry the elements of the culture they’re interacting with onto every culture that follows.

The TCKs lack of ability to truly be indoctrinated by any one culture means that they will always be on the move, always looking for new pieces of the puzzle of self identity. This is the drive for forward momentum, like seeds being spread across a field in the wind. Everywhere a TCK goes, they evolve, become different, absorb new cultural elements. Then, when they leave, they leave behind a piece of so many cultures that will be absorbed into the culture they have departed, and the TCK takes with them even more cultural quirks to spread into the next culture they encounter.

As the world gets smaller, we are approaching the point in which culture will inevitably have to change. It may not be in the generation of the millennials, or the generation that follows them immediately thereafter, but soon, at least from a galactic perspective, the entire cultural foundation upon which civilization has been built will have to confront one of two outcomes should humanity choose to survive:

The first and most brutal is a complete cultural reversal. Inspired by mass extinction events of the past in which entire species are wiped out, we are looking at a potential Cultural Shut-down. Any large event, a World War, a technological hiccup that shoots us back in time through our ability as a species to harness technology, will distance us from one another once again and strengthen our ties to individual cultures, making cross pollination of cultures unnecessary and unwanted.

The second, and hopefully more likely, is Cultural Survival through Evolution. Globalization comes at a price. It unifies ideas, people, and minds. And at the same time, it forces the segregation of independent cultural norms that we accept in our current societal state. As the ability to travel comes ever simpler, as cultures rely more heavily on each other to prosper and survive, cultural blending will become absolutely inevitable. Language barriers will collapse. Food sources will be shared. Trade will increase. Boarders will weaken. And in that process, cultures will be mixed more heavily with one another unlike ever before in human history, fuelled by technology that was unimaginable in the days of isolated cultures.

This transition is happening now, only in its infancy, and that infancy lives within TCKs everywhere. TCKs are the signs of a world to come in which culture isn’t about isolation, but rather the sharing of ideas and theories. Many cultures will, albeit sadly, fade away into oblivion with countless millions of forgotten cultures before them. But in the end, we will have a more global society built upon the best pieces of the cultures we experience now.

That transition is many years away. Centuries, perhaps. But if the rapid growth of TCKs shows us anything, it’s that their self identity in culture, the adaptability of human kind, is the gift that they will leave behind for the generations that follow. TCKs are paving the way for a future that they will never live to see. But the future of our species depends on cultural adaptation, and TCKs are already doing something that has never been done before. They’re growing in numbers, and manipulating cultures in a world that has the technology and power to experience the difference adaptability makes in its every corner.

And that adaptability will be the idea that carries our species forward into a world of true globalization. It will be the gift that every Third Culture Kid will leave behind, for the generations that follow.

__________

Author of TCK Life

Post by: James R. Mitchener

Welcome Home, They Say

Welcome Home, They Say “Welcome home!” they say, with a look on their faces that shows such an immeasurable joy that can only be expressed by someone who has stood in my shoes before, holding a key to a new home, the first home, that I’ve ever owned. Their excitement cuts through the air, and it’s so thick with transitive joy that you can almost taste it with every breath you take. They remember every second of their experience so well, the excitement and joy of owning their first home, of finally having a place to call their own, that they can almost relive that moment with you, put themselves in your shoes and experience it all over again, smiles so wide and excitement so strong that I’m afraid the panic I feel inside me is not hidden by the mask of an attempted mirrored reaction to their own.

The truth is, they’ve never worn my shoes before. And I’ve never worn theirs.

I cannot touch that world, a completely different universe I have never experienced running parallel to my own. I do not understand their excitement, their joy, what it is within this moment of walking into an empty building for which I now own a key inspires such an incredibly emotional response. I don’t understand the roots that they’ve created in a house, this single structure that they call “home” that attaches to its name so many different meanings and feelings and collective understandings that are so foreign of concepts to me.

For me, it is all so strange. I am watching the excitement on visitors faces, as they look at the new house and get increasingly jovial as most first culture kids do with the concept of owning a “home,” and they reflect the feelings they expect me to have, of joy, excitement, new futures and a commitment to a single place as the place I want to be. They shine with anticipation of those thoughts and feelings they expect me to have, and I shine back, but not because I feel those feelings or think those thoughts, but because this entire experience is so foreign to me that I mirror them as they mirror what they believe they see in me.

If they knew the truth, though, they would not find excitement and joy at the prospect of owning a house. I love my house, I will not deny that. I love the space, the property, the location, the neighbours, the convenience, the quiet, and the noise. I love that I don’t have to worry about stepping too loud for the people below me, finding a parking spot at night, or climbing three flights of stairs to get to my door. I love the smell of it, the newness, and the fact that I have moved into something that really is mine where I am not constantly being watched. That only I have a key to my door, no manager, no technician, only me.

As a Third Culture Kid, though, there’s a void in the understanding of value that my friends and family see. Their memories of their first home were memories tied to the concept of a word that is lost on me. Home has true meaning to them, growing up within a culture that understands them, that embraces them, and that they embrace back knowing full and well they belong there. A house isn’t just a building to them, it’s a symbol of a connection to a location, a group, a culture, for which represents them to their core.

But my home isn’t in their culture. It isn’t in a building. It is out there somewhere, in the uncomfortable arms of an economy class seat, in a baggage claim department with signs written in characters I cannot read. It’s in the taste of spices I cannot remember, in the smells that abandoned me of the places I cannot see, and in the sounds of streets that echo in my memories. It’s in the hum of an engine as I fly through the air, in the back of my Grandad’s garden, at the local pub down the road, on an under-maintained bus running along the side of mountain. In the people that have shaped me, have made me who I am, who will make me who I continue to become.

As I look into eyes that falsely mirror emotions I am meant to feel at this new “home,” I can feel my heart breaking. Not because I do not understand the concept of home that they embrace so completely, but because they will never understand the beauty I see in not feeling what they expect me to feel. If they were to read these words, their responses would be many, but I find it hard to believe that any of them would be happy. They would see my lack of excitement perhaps as a lack of appreciation for a culture they love, perhaps as a lack of respect for the possession I have. They may judge me for not feeling as they do, for not appreciating it to the level as they do, all because I do not understand the fundamental concept behind everything a home means to them.

I am not sad for the lack of understanding of a home. I’m not even sad because I do not see the world through the same lens as those with whom I choose to spend significant portions of my life. I’m sad because these words speak only to my TCK brethren: The world that we see and the world that we live in is not the same place, and the beauty I long to share is lost in moments of lack of understanding and an inability to convey a world-view that cannot be gifted unless the tides of our youth happened to flow in the same direction. But now, it is too late, and the barriers are set, no matter how hard we try to share our world with others, or have them share theirs with us. We run parallel to each other, seeing the same things side-by-side from an entirely different perspective. And while that is beautiful, it is also heartbreaking, for while the experiences are close, they will always be separated by the same little gap between understanding.

So when I hear them say “Welcome home,” with a meaning I will never understand, I think silently, “Thank you, I’ve loved every second of carrying it with me everywhere I’ve ever been, and everywhere I will ever go, around the world and back again to somewhere completely new.”