My Kind of "Normal"

Category: Third Culture Kids

tckcamiflightWhat a day to fly! It is stunning out my window. There are just the right amount of clouds in the sky. Can't wait to fly into the patch of clouds in the distance. From here, they look like they are just the right kind of clouds. You know the kind I mean? The ones whose shape stimulates your imagination. I love making things out of them in my mind and creating a story to go along with them. But alas, like my life, the clouds are always changing and I never seem to be able to finish the story before the plane has moved on or the cloud itself has morphed into something else. Yep, that’s my life. I always seem to be on the go. I like it a lot, but most times I am not able to finish my experience the way I would like before leaving again. That can be super frustrating.

It’s not just hanging out with Libby and being in all the places where she goes that seems to never end, (don’t misunderstand, Libby - I like hanging out with you!) but even when I was a kid it was the same. Moving here, moving there…it was great, but sad at the same time. It seemed as soon as I got used to a place it was time to move again. And, if it wasn’t me doing the moving, it seemed it was my best friend’s turn to move. Actually I remember when I was in 3rd grade I went to 3 elementary schools!

Someone asked me recently how it felt to grow up like I did, you know, moving all the time. I told her I didn’t know quite what she asking. (Actually I didn’t think she would get my answer.) So I turned the question back on her and asked her how it felt to grow up living in one place.  She looked at me with a quizzical look on her face and said “normal”. Then I said, “yep, that’s how I felt too…’normal’ ”.  She didn’t get it. I don’t think she understands that my life is normal…for me anyway…and for many of my TCK friends too, it's normal.

So what does “normal” look like anyway? Doesn’t it have to do a lot with context? I mean, isn’t “normal” what the culture says is normal? I’m not a sociologist, psychiatrist or anything like that, but it seems to me that if a culture decides that a certain thing is normal for that culture, then it IS normal. Hmmm…example…hmmm...okay got one: Japan! When you greet someone in Japan the right thing to do is bow. It is the normal thing…the expected thing. In fact, if you were Japanese and you didn’t bow, you'd be in big trouble or, at the very least, be considered rude.

Lately I have been thinking about the good parts of being so mobile. The hard stuff is easier to name, like losing friends, not knowing what place is mine and longing for what I had that is now history. But there are some really great things too. Knowing lots of people in a lot of places, that’s pretty cool. I think I could go to just about any continent on the planet and find someone there I know…except maybe Antarctica. (Guess I will have to work on that one!)  Another great thing is having a wide variety of experiences…like who other but people of our culture tell some of the stories we do, even though half the time “monos” think we are making it up (if they only knew…*smiling*). And being mobile helps me fit right into a new place. Drop me off in inner-Mongolia and I’ll observe, pick up the signals and probably adapt pretty quickly - eventhough I have never been there.

In my culture, the Third Culture Kid culture, lots of mobility (could be mine or someone else’s) is normal. Okay, maybe 3 moves in one year looks extreme, but it doesn’t make me less normal than my TCK peers.  It only feels abnormal when I am with a group of people who haven’t lived this way. Maybe that’s why I like traveling with Libby so much. She hangs out with people who are my kind of “normal”.  :-)

Always on the go,

-Cami

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Camilla is a TCK who gets to travel with Libby Stephens. Missed her intro? Meet Cami!

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