Thursday, October 17, 2013

I am a Triangle...or am I?

Its late. Not as late early as I would stay up procrastinating in college, but its late for me these days. I'm utterly exhausted but I find myself craving quiet alone time and this is then. Some people are early risers, appreciating the quiet of the morning.

(Que happy bird sounds and flutey Disney music. Now que record scratching sound.)

Some people, on the other hand, are night owls. It could (and has!) been said about me that I am not a morning person. It may have even been said that I am (I may or may not be quoting verbatim) "like a bear with a sore toe" in the morning. And the hubs may or may not have agreed to not take anything I say before 7am (or sometimes 10am) seriously. Let's be honest, I truly hate mornings. I may be the only person who flips off the sunrise should I be unfortunate enough to witness it.

I'm going to be hating life come 6:30am when the littles wake up (and every 2ish or so hours as I feed the baby. Geez that baby!) I should go to bed, but I'm enjoying the burst of creative energy that only late night pintrest perusing can initiate!

ANYWAYS. I came across an insightful post on repatriation over at Naomi Hattaway's blog. (You should go check out her post, it has illustrations and everything!) It describes the ex-pat experience something like this: Your home culture is represented by a circle. You, a circle, move to another culture, represented by a square. So you, a circle, live in a square culture. Over time you adapt to the square ways but you never quite loose your circle-ness, and you become something new, a triangle! You've changed quite a bit but are not quite a square. Then you return to your home culture, the land of circles, but you don't go back to being a circle, you're a triangle now! You will never go back to completely being a circle, because now you have grown and evolved into something new, a triangle. If two triangles have a child, the child becomes something completely different, a star! A star is even more of an anomaly because they have potentially spent little to no time in the country where their parents originated from, leading them to identify even more strongly than their parents with the host culture as their home culture.

So am I a star or a triangle? I probably more closely resemble something like this:

I very much identified with this description because I have always felt like I don't quite belong or fit in anywhere, yet I can adapt almost everywhere (except for that brief stint in Indonesia but that's another story). I didn't fit in to the culture I grew up in. I didn't truly fit in to my "home" culture, at least not as a kid. I suppose I became a star; my family became my home culture. It helps to have this perspective now as I am moving my children to another country. Its okay that we don't really fit in, and its okay that maybe we won't totally fit in back home either. Our home culture will always be a big part of us, but the new culture will be part of us too.

Readjusting to life back home is often more challenging than adapting to life in the host culture because its so unexpected. After all, that's where you are FROM! Its often surprising to find that you have changed so much! People in the host culture expect you to be different; people in your home culture expect you to be the same.

So if you meet a missionary, or an awkward teenage daughter of said missionary, this may explain some of their quirkiness. They may seem out of it because although they may have originated from your country, they identify more strongly with another culture now. That's a difficult, beautiful, and sacred thing! And you know what would help? Invite them to your gatherings, into your family, and into your culture. Let them know that you appreciate them for who they are, even though they may not quite fit in. They don't quite fit in where they live, either.

I suppose this is what life is like regardless of whether or not you move to a foreign country. We start out one way in the beginning, and by the end we're something completely different. We've grown, changed, evolved and hopefully become better, more loving and accepting individuals. We are, after all, global citizens of this great, big, small world.

What about you? Are you a triangle or a star? Do you know someone who is a triangle or a star?
Monday, October 14, 2013

I do not think it means what I think you think it means

Believe it or not the post that has gotten the most hits was Life as a TCK-20 Years Later. Because I enjoyed writing that post more than anything else I have posted, and because I have had a hard time sticking to writing just about babywearing and cloth diapering, I am beginning to think my blog, when I  blog, has taken a new turn. Its as if Inigo Montoya is saying to me, "I do not think it means what you think it think it means". I don't think this blog is turning out to be what I think I thought I wanted it to be. I think its going to be something slightly or completely different.

For example, since I wrote that post on being a TCK, my husband and I are up and moving our little family to Shanghai, China. Even a few months ago as I struggled with my feelings about growing up in a country that was not my own, I didn't think I would be moving our daughters (oh yeah, this summer I gave birth to beautiful AJ! But that story is for another day.) across the world to Asia, a place I swore I would never live! Its a little bit of a long story as most twists and turns of life are, and here we are relocating, even excited about it!

I'm looking forward to moving, to having a change. I suppose there's a little restless corner of my heart filled with wanderlust. When I experience travel and new cultures and am tired, the wanderlust is satisfied. But when I have recovered and processed my experiences, the heart grows restless and longs for a new place. Perhaps its the third culture-ness in me that won't be satisfied, despite my best efforts and longings for a rooted place to call home. Maybe its the redemption and healing of that place in my heart that allows me to look forward to this move and walk my children through a journey similar to my own. After all, there are many wonderful things that come from growing up in another country and traveling with your family as a child. And part of me, the redeemed part, wants that for my children.

I'm a little scared. I know how I can be when I am swallowed in a new language and culture. The rough edges of my heart continue to shock me. But I'm also excited for those rough edges to be smoothed a little bit, for the condition of my heart to be softened and more accepting and loving of others. I'm looking forward to giving my children the gift of cultural exposure, young as they are. I'm even looking forward to the challenges that come with adapting to a new culture.

So here goes the blog, whatever direction it may take. I definitely need to come back to read this when I'm having a hard day of cultural adaptation!
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