Here is my second Recommended reading catchup – great posts from November 2018 I missed out on sharing with you while I was sick.
Capable of Complexity
A Life Overseas
In this wonderful post the fabulous Marilyn talks about the struggle many TCKs have to accept that life is, for everyone, a mixture – both good AND bad, both wonderful AND difficult. She also references Misunderstood which was a very touching shout out. This piece is full of stories and well-crafted words – very much worth the time to read and consider.
“It takes many missionary kids years to accept that their experience was a complicated, beautiful package of good and hard. Owning the hard feels like a betrayal. . .For years, all I could do was claim the positive…My childhood was perfect, thank you very much, and don’t even start with the negative. . .As Tanya Crossman points out so well in her book Misunderstood, the third culture kid narrative is a perspective and not a one-size-fits-all single story. Each TCK story contains things that are deeply painful and other things that are incredibly unique and joy-filled.”
Why Gratitude is the Best Answer for Difficult Expat Emotions
World Tree Coaching
Another great post from Jodi looking at the emotional side of life from a expatriate perspective. I love her mindful approach to gratitude – not to pretend that everything is okay when it isn’t, but to make a deliberate change in perspective that allows us to see good things alongside and in spite of the bad things. This also makes it a great companion to the piece by Marilyn I shared above.
“It’s not that by being grateful we suddenly erase the shittiness of bad things that happen. I strongly disagree with the idea that in our most difficult emotions we should simply apply a little gratitude and everything will be okay. What we can see, however, is that gratitude offers us the chance to see our experiences and our emotions in the context of the larger picture.”
Pillars and Bricks: The Values Clash of Expat Wanderers and the Homebodies Who Love Them
The Culture Blend
I wasn’t really paying attention to which blog I was reading when I came across this piece. I loved it so much, then realised – of course I do. It’s another piece by Jerry. Hah! Seriously though, this is a really sensitive and helpful look at different ways people build their lives – in one place, or in many places. Neither right or wrong, merely different, and capable of holding one another’s values. I see reflections of my own relatioship with my father. I’m sure many other expats will find helpful insights here as well.
“My father is a pillar. I am a brick. His values are pillar values. Find your plot and build. Commit. Plant roots… Set your pillar and build around it. He has never shown me anything but support and respect, but I don’t make sense to him. How could I? I’m a bricklayer. I moved away. Far away. To another country. Another continent. Another world. Then I moved again. And again. And again. And again, until I finally showed some sense and came home – and then moved again. One brick and then another. That doesn’t make sense – to a pillar.”
Old Things Made New
ATCK Karissa shares a poignant reflection of her relationship with a language she left behind – and yet is still part of her. She connects this to her background as a TCK, and the coping mechanisms she came up with while creating a life for herself settled in her passport country. I really relate to her description of familiarity with a language, the way it feels to connect with a language. Especially a language people don’t think of as belonging to you.
“I like the way Chinese sounds. Familiar, but also with infinite unexplored corners. I like picking it out in a crowd, like a code that most people can’t decipher…I like being able to speak a second tongue without effort, even if I rarely use it. Like an old locket that’s always around my neck, but hasn’t been opened in a long time. It’s like opening the door of your home after a long trip away, and recognizing its smell that you can’t decipher when you’ve been living in the midst of it…Maybe I can identify myself in a realm that encompasses more than loss of things I’ve loved.”
Talk Cities To Me
In this piece another ATCK, Molly, talks about seductive conversations – talking to men from different places, who have lived elsewhere, and that wonderful excitement and familiarity of spending time with someone who also doesn’t entirely fit. Really lovely read.
“He left too. Again my friends reminded me that I should focus on dating men who lived in this city. I reassured them that I wouldn’t catch feelings. I just enjoyed the conversations. I liked spending my evening talking with someone about places I’ve never been and swapping our best travel stories. I’ve fallen in love with Melbourne, London, Stockholm, San Francisco and more just from talking to these men.”
How to Avoid the Expat Bubble
Global Living Magazine
Some simple advice and warm encouragement to expats to engage with the local communities we live in. The comforts of expat life can be alluring – and they aren’t bad! But plugging into ordinary life is an important part of feeling at home wherever you find yourself.
“Take the time to understand the heritage of where you are living and explore the real city. When you have guests visiting, don’t just take them to see the tourist attractions. Show them the hidden gems that you’ve discovered. By doing this, it will start to feel more like home for you too. If you aren’t sure where to go or what to see, take a walk. Sometimes, just walking and exploring a neighbourhood is the best way to find your new favourite places.”
Zooming Out to Find Perspective
This piece makes a good point about how we look at long term friendships, especially as expats. The author reflects that no, she doesn’t have friends she’s lived alongside forever, but she doesn’t have friends she’s shared life with, and maintained bonds with. She also makes a good point about the pace of building friendships, how it is different from place to place. This is something many expats struggle with after moving back into a less transient place.
“Now that I live in a small town, I’m surrounded by people who have been friends for years, and it can tempt me to feel lonely or out of place because I don’t have a friend that goes back years and years here. However, when I zoom out and see the rich friendships I carry with me from my time overseas, I see that I have a lot of great friendships, but they look different than those of the people around me.”
Reverse Culture Shock: What it’s like moving home
Speaking of moving ‘home’, I appreciated this post – one woman’s experience of reverse culture shock after a short spell (one year) living overseas. There’s lots of lovely little thoughts and comments throughout. And I totally relate to not knowing what side to walk on!!!
“You feel kinda confused all the time and do some stupid things. I often forget which side of the stairs or escalator to be on and end up getting in people’s way. . . Luckily moving home has had far more positives than negatives and overall I am so happy we are back. I can’t really explain the feeling but I literally am like a different person since we returned. I prioritise what matters, I don’t let people get to me as much and I just have this nice feeling of contentment and happiness! Moving abroad seriously does change your mindset.”