Treasuring my Grief

Category: Third Culture Kids

TCKGriefI just changed phone companies. This was the first time I had to do this since I moved back to the United States eight years ago. It was totally frustrating. The operators of both companies asked questions I didn’t understand and had no idea how to answer. Both made multiple offers of services at bargain prices. I was overwhelmed. So what did I learn from this seemingly little thing? I learned that my transition continues! When will it be over?

In all honesty, I am not really sure I want it to be over. Still adjusting reminds me of who I was, who I am now and who I will always be. I embrace the missing. I treasure it. Please understand I try very hard not to get stuck in the past, but I try equally hard not to forget the past. So I keep “Danke” and “Tchüss” in my vocabulary and pass it on for others to use…even if they have never been to Germany.  Maybe it will spark curiosity in them for somewhere else someday…who knows.

I walk around with a secret inside of me. My secret is that I don’t quite fit in my citizenship land. As I write this, I giggle thinking that those I meet probably are very aware that I do not fit the mold exactly, especially when I use a word or two from another language or I eat my pizza with a knife and fork. These differences don’t always come out but when they do they are often more glaring than subtle, resulting in people thinking I am mysterious at best and just plain weird at worst.  Neither assumption is correct by the way. I am just third culture!

So as I think about my ongoing adjustment and transition back here to my country of citizenship, I hold some of my struggles very close to my heart and I hope I never lose them. Here is a short list of what I still miss and things I am still adjusting to:

  • I am still missing seasonal foods like “zimt sternen”
  • Still miss feeling safe when walking late at night
  • Still miss going to 5 countries in 1 day
  • Still miss hearing multiple languages all at one time
  • Still adjusting to people passing on the right
  • Still adjusting to people being loud in restaurants
  • Still adjusting to people not “getting it” when I talk about my international life
  • Still adjusting to ice in my glass
  • Still trying to figure out the insurance system in the USA
  • Still trying to be patient with family that have not lived a life like mine

And my list could go on and on. The worst thing however, would be not missing any more at all. I cherish my loss and grief. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

What’s on your list?

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