COVID-19 Values Exposed : How Living Through this COVID-19 Season is Similar to the Feels of Loss and Gains in Having Lived a Life Overseas

I grew up overseas in multiple countries. And as an adult I have lived in several more in addition to five U.S. States. The total country count where I’ve called “home” over the past thirty years is now 10. Over the past two years as an independent intercultural consultant, I have lived part-time in Muskegon county in Michigan while travelling for work and vacation the remainder of the year. Now, with the COVID-19 season, all my work travel is cancelled because all appointments are postponed and all my vacation plans are non-existent. I’m happy I got to California in January and Florida in February and Massachusetts in March. It’s been an interesting transition for me to consider the indefinite amount of time I’ll actually be at “home” here in Michigan. At first, the feeling was one of limitation, but as I shifted my perspective to more deeply understand this community, I have begun to see the culture of it better and how it is shaped by certain values. I’d love to share them from my multicultural, multi-”home” perspective.

Loss of Connection is also a Gain of New Ways to Connect

It can seem paradoxical. We can’t gather together in person and yet my social calendar seems to be fuller. My phone buzzes with texts and I’ve discovered how annoying my current ring tone is. The “Google Hangout” and Zoom call invites populate my inboxes. While I do strongly believe that in-person face-to-face socialization and business meetings are the best for relationship building and clear communication, it is equally important to note that connection, care, and empathy can be extended and received through a screen.

If I may encourage you to continue to check in with your community. Even if that means through online means. This COVID-19 season reminds me of when I was growing up overseas the option to sustain relationships across time, space, and distance only became possible in my teens because of the new and ever-improving and more affordable virtual communication platforms. These new modes of communication made the “goodbyes” a little less bitter. Also, I’m rediscovering the art of handwriting letters. A piece of snail mail can fill the need for touch or demonstrate the investment of time with the thought of this way to demonstrate love.

In relation to my local community, I am finding that individualism – a value that shapes U.S. American culture with work and with socialization – is shifting along the spectrum to more of a collectivist nature. This looks like asking the nuclear family, neighbors, elderly community members, and other acquaintances like gym buddies, church members who sit across the aisle, and store clerks and cashiers how we can be more mindful of their needs to serve them better. We can and should value unity during this time. We can and should value connection over comfort or what we may have previously deemed as “inconvenient”. When is the last time we went across the street with a homemade baked good? Even six weeks ago we wouldn’t have necessarily noticed who we interact with in a store or who lives on our street. We’re challenged to connect in new ways.

Loss of Work and School Rhythms is also a Gain of Exploring Your Own Backyard for Breaks and Recess

It can seem like a calendar-less year. Or that we are living in Groundhog’s Day. I’ve heard it and seen it from colleagues and community posts: “What day is it? I’ve lost track.” We’re operating on new schedules, establishing new routines and navigating different household rhythms. Living, working, playing, and sleeping within the same four walls can begin to feel like they are creeping in on our sanity. But the directive of lockdown doesn’t restrict us from our own backyards or taking a walk around the block. It can be a time to get acquainted with your surroundings – as micro as your front porch to as macro as the hiking trail in the next county.

In my experience growing up overseas, I never knew what our house would look like in the country to which we were moving, let alone if we would have a yard. Unlike some companies that provide families (or at least the principal worker and accompanying partner) to do a “go see” visit to check out a new home assignment, we experienced the “you’ll get what we have available and will have the ‘welcome kit’ (sheets, pans, pots, etc.) in it when you arrive” treatment in the diplomatic corps. I remember checking out every corner of our new house and how each family member would begin to “nest” in different areas of it.

I find myself these days hanging pictures on the walls I’ve never gotten around to doing in my sporadic travel. I’m taking walks in the neighborhood and discovering how very unique each yard is. Growing up abroad, our houses were typically behind walls and so I’m discovering the “openness” of a typical U.S. American neighborhood. I love seeing the yard landscape creativity and the freedom people have in choosing paint colors and exterior decorations. The values and privilege of space, privacy, and difference shape our American culture in the way we pride ourselves on how we maintain our properties. 

How we value public space is also observable in keeping our parks clean and accessible during this time. How fortunate I am to live in an area that has space to discover while keeping social distancing directives. Be mindful about how unhurried time can be a gift to you and your family in making memories during “break time.”

Loss of Mobility is also the a Gain of Perspective-Change

It can seem like a time of loss of freedom and independence; two values that shape U.S. culture in the way we value entertainment and travel. The ability to go where you want to go when you want to go for as long as you want to go is a freedom we celebrate and the absence of it can be disorienting. The loss of mobility has been disorienting for me in the way I’ve built my career to be “office-free.” Now, my home is my office.

This COVID-19 season reminds me of two different times I lived overseas as an adult and felt the restrictions of travel. One time was when I was a postgraduate student in Greece and having completed my master degree there at the American College of Greece, I was seeking employment in the country. But, because my visa was a student one and not a work one, I was not able to stay there. The second scenario was similar. I was working in Hungary and needed to make the choice to renew my teaching contract or to return to the U.S. Again, not renewing the working visa meant I would need to repatriate. It was a challenging decision at the time and I felt restricted because of my U.S. citizenship. But, I ultimately decided to return to the US to pursue other opportunities. In both of these scenarios I could focus on either being bitter about having to leave the country I was calling “home” because of government regulations or I could celebrate the time I had left and the memories and relationships I would also have in repatriating to the U.S. I find myself in a similar situation now: am I angry that I can’t travel or am I grateful for this time to explore my local surroundings and home.

I’m not stuck at home. I’m safe at home and you’re not stuck at home, you’re safe at home. Let’s expose that truth and claim it.

Loss of Understanding the COVID-19 Source is also a Gain for Us to Unify as a Human Race

It can seem like a blame-shifting game. At several levels, we see news reports of casting blame on world leaders, country leaders, State leaders, and even county leaders about their decisions and retractions about how to keep communities safe. We see reports of the worst side of humanity with racist remarks and we see reports of the best side of humanity with acts of service. 

Growing up overseas, I was sometimes in environments and situations that I was the only U.S. citizen in the group. I’ve had the “power” placed on me to be “The Spokesperson” for all of the United States. Imagine, this was when I was 12 years old. Questions and statements directed at me like, “Why is American policy this?” “Why do Americans do x, y, z?” “It’s disgusting that Americans act this way…” created this weight I carried as a mini diplomat at times that I didn’t know how to not internalize or process well as a child. The impression that I was a voice for all of America considering I was the only U.S. citizen in a particular group is quite humorous to me now considering I hadn’t grown up in America, and thus, how could I ever respond accurately.

I find we can learn from this situation in that we can’t cast blame or make assumptions or speak ill about people during this time based on physical appearances or passport origin. We have a duty to protect one another and to lean in to understand one another better, listen more, and mitigate fear, not create it. I’m specifically alluding here to the focus on anti-Chinese and anti-Asian sentiments that come from the myth that COVID-19 is a Chinese virus.

Do your part in your community to make lasting positive change. Do your part to consider if it’s kind or not to wipe the grocery store aisle clean of every canned good or TP. Our U.S. individualist value needs to be broadened to protecting self means protecting others and protecting others means protecting self. Be aware of how you talk to your family, friends, and larger community about this virus. Be mindful to spread facts, not fear. We’re in this together.

Published on April 3, 2020 on Thrive Global

Walk 10 Thousand Steps and Then Perhaps 1,000 More.

Empathy is not sympathy. It’s not agreement with a person’s situation or even saying “I know how you feel.” Empathy and the hope that we can serve one another and be present for each other are actions we need now more than ever in our countries, communities, and homes. It’s creating the safe space to ask, “What do you need?” And if that is silence, let it be silence. Don’t ask this question if you’re not prepared to walk 10 Thousand Steps in their shoes and allow them to share their needs, emotions, struggles, celebrations, and journey — this is empathy.

Before you begin to compare your situation to others or “rate” it against others, or even enter into a “competition” of who is “worse off” in this season, maybe broaden your perspective to understand that there are layers of effects in this transition time to each of our lives. We are all in transition. Be kind. Be gentle. Be hope-full. And may I expose some “privilege” in how you’re griping about toilet paper. And that the beaches are closed.

Walk ten thousand steps in another person’s shoes, and then perhaps 1,000 more. We are in this together.

My Hope 4/1/2020

During this time the feeling of hope can feel like it’s in shifting sands. I walked on the West Michigan sand dunes today, paving the word “hope” in one level spot. It struck me as I was carving out this four letter word that any preposition you put with it it can capture where someone is with it in this season: looking after hope, beside hope, beyond hope, between hope, dwelling in hope, among hope, walking through hope, inside hope, loving because of hope, around hope-full people, holding onto hope, out of hope, desperate before hope, without hope…

It sometimes can feel we have access to it, sometimes we feel we’re ten thousand steps away from it. Walking today ten thousand literal steps to shape this word in shifting sands meant I had to dig in, repeat steps, follow my path again and again. I got lost in it. I even became hope-less at one point in the process thinking what’s the point – do I believe this word right now?

And yet I knew I had to leave the area to see the hope creation. I had to walk 10 thousand steps and one thousand more to gain perspective of it. Let me expose my privilege of time today to find hope in the shifting sands.

Let me tell you who I had immense empathy for and said a hopeful prayer for:

For the woman behind the scenes in the hospital working in the nurses’ staffing office, coordinating time tables, deciding who will move to different floors, and who will attend to Coronavirus candidates. You are seen. I see you. You are a part of this fight. You are supporting the Front Lines. You hear the exhaustion on the other end of the line: the nurses who have worked a shift and they need to work another. Your patience and empathy makes a difference in your kind and supportive words. You’re walking a thousand steps with them. Continue on with them in hope. They may lash out in your ear out of frustration and pain. Continue on with your kind words. They need your kind words. I’m talking to you, Mom.

For the man behind the scenes setting up emergency communications and coordinating with FEMA to deliver more supplies to the hospitals. You are seen. I see you. You are a part of this fight. You are supporting the Front Lines. You hear the exhaustion of those in this office coordinating with response teams and funeral home teams. Your patience and your training others makes a difference. You’re walking a thousand steps with them. Continue on with them in hope that the operations you’re putting in place will mitigate fear and provide clarity to those involved in funeral preparations. I’m talking to you, Dad.

For the Amazon manager working behind the scenes to keep the station team morale high. Your 18 hour days on the warehouse floor coordinating social distance and combining new delivery routes and communicating with other stations from your bedroom floor when you get home: you keep advocating for your team. Your patience and your commitment to maintaining supply chains makes a difference. You’re walking a thousand steps with others. Continue on with them in hope. (And can I expose the privilege of America: to the person at home contemplating buying that toy for your kid or a new book for yourself and complaining about delayed shipment: that toy is going to be in the Fall yard sale. Look at your shelf for an unread book. Ask your neighbor to borrow one of theirs. Just stop complaining about how slow shipment is. Be content and creative with what you have). Be exposed to those who are working to get you your “needs.” I’m talking about my Brother – the one who asked me “how can I help you” after a 90 hour week.

Walk a thousand miles in someone else’s shoes. Sometimes that journey will show you some of the unsung heroes behind the scenes in this COVID-19 war. They’re important to expose, too.

I walked in between and around and at the ends of my literal and figurative hope this evening. On shifting sands no less that proved to be quite accurate in how my hope feels these days. But what was helpful was stepping away to gain perspective. Stepping away to see my hope.

Stepping Away to See My Hope

Stepping away to see the sun set on it. Hopeful that the sun will shine on it tomorrow. Knowing that my hope isn’t meant to stay in this form forever; but rather, to be built up, re-shaped, and found in stories of empathy, fierce compassion, and behind-the-scenes heroic acts of kindness. We’re in this together. Expose that.

Good Grief

Good Grief: this was a piece I had published last month in a newspaper in Michigan. Rooting in place and in people has been on my mind and heart this season of my life:

Home for Christmas? I am. But also, in My Dreams.

The iconic “I’ll be home for Christmas” song during this season can sometimes ignite polarizing feelings for listeners. A song that is meant to convey the love, warmth, and safety of home can also procure feelings of sadness, loneliness, and grief – for several different reasons. I am one of those people who experiences “all the feels” when I hear this song.

“Home” is a complex and nuanced word, feeling, and place for me. This year, home is Whitehall, Michigan and indeed, I’ll be here for Christmas. But in my heart I have memories of other homes during this season and in my house, I hold treasures from Christmases past. My previous homes include nine other countries and four other U.S. States. Knowing that I’ll never be in those homes again for the holidays brings a mixed bag of emotions, but I value the time I had living there and creating memories. The ornaments hanging on my Christmas tree tell stories of the Christmases overseas: from European Christmas market painted glass globes to colorfully beaded South African ones, this collection of sacred objects represent the joy, love and peace of Christmases past.

Growing up as a U.S. State Department dependent meant that home was “assigned” to our family every three years. From South Korea to Germany, and from Japan to Israel, the Christmas season was always celebrated with global friends and family and with different local traditions. I recall in Israel we celebrated Hanukkah and Christmas! And when I played Mary in the church play, I simply went to the Jerusalem market and got myself a robe that probably looked similar to what she wore – minus the extra material for a baby bump. In Korea, my brother and I performed in our school’s choir at the U.S. Embassy for the diplomats and also downtown in the Hilton hotel for holiday travelers and tourists. In South Africa, we took an afternoon swim in our pool after the BBQ lunch with friends on the patio.

In and through these global moves we also developed family traditions that remained steadfast regardless of country or climate or cultural context. In Japan, my mom bought an advent calendar at a handmade craft Christmas market that has hung in every one of our houses during this season. I enjoy decorating the calendar’s living room scene with the holiday-specific Velcro décor pieces for each day. I remember that even when I came home from university (to Vienna, Austria), this cloth advent calendar would be hung but none of the Velcro pieces were placed on it. Even if it was December 19, mom waited to let me hang each piece where I wanted them! We’ve lost one of the pieces through our moves; it just means the milk and cookies plush piece gets put out December 23 instead of December 24.

My favorite family holiday tradition centers on our Christmas stockings. Over thirty years ago, Mom bought four red felt stockings and with a sharpie wrote “Dad,” “Mom,” “Michael” and “Megan” respectively on each one. Now, with faded names and some gaping holes in them, we each take ours on December 25 morning and open the gifts inside them. Typically, there is an orange and banana in each one. But the Whitman’s chocolate gets eaten first.

This is our fourth Christmas in Michigan. This year, we’ve put the Christmas tree in a more central room in the house. I think we all like it in here. We’re still considering what traditions to develop in this place. We love that Dad still grilles; even if it is snowing! One newer tradition is decorating the house exterior and we love to drive around neighborhoods to view other outdoor decorations. In so many places we lived houses were behind walls. Our own house was behind a wall. So why decorate outside? My favorite outdoor decoration this year is the inflatable Olaf.

This month, I am dreaming of places I love. But I am loving being home too.

Connection Takes Courage

Connection Takes Courage: One of the greatest needs and desires of any human being is to be deeply seen and known by another. Perhaps one of the greatest paradoxes to this sense of belonging and deep love is the risk of vulnerability and reciprocity.

The past couple of posts I’ve shared have been more vulnerable than previous ones. Earlier postings have typically ranged from a regurgitated form of research and notions of Third Culture Kid identity characteristics to a series of quotations I find relevant to my own TCK journey. Recently, one of my friends challenged me to be more vulnerable in my writings — to share my stories as they relate to my TCK research. At first, I was reluctant as I wanted to remain a bit anonymous and generic in my interactions with readers.

But, I decided to challenge myself to write more personal stories. To, perhaps, help my own processing. To, perhaps, be seen in a different way.

And so, I shared what was on and in my heart over the past few months. It was an uncomfortable feeling publishing my intimate experiences, especially of a recent end to a 5 year relationship. But, as a creative outlet, this writing helped me to name some of my feelings, and ultimately work through them better as I reflected openly. I worried that sharing such a deeply emotional experience wouldn’t translate across time and space and distance in an authentic way. Perhaps it didn’t. But to one person it did.

To a woman 9,873 mi/15889km and 14 time zones away from me.

She wrote me a private message informing me how she appreciated reading my posts and wanted to encourage my heart by sending me a book that she felt would resonate with my recent reflections. I provided my snail mail address, and last week, I got the book. And what a wonderful one it is.

To be deeply seen and known by another is to risk vulnerability and letting another in. Across time and space and distance a woman I have only interacted with on social media could empathize with me and encourage me through written words.

In a society that often argues that social media fragments community and distills human connection, this woman and I have proven you wrong. This week, today, this hour, I feel so grateful for the courageous reach this woman had to authentically connect with my personhood and my vulnerability through social media.

May my writing continue be a creative tension; a push-pull of what to share and what to leave out. But I’ll write on. Because of human connection.

 

Princess Megan [sans h]

Saturday, May 19, 2018: It’s 8:00pm EST and I’m eating a generous helping of Caramel Drizzle Cheesecake ice cream out of a coral white bowl. This is what single girls do at 8pm on a Saturday night. 😉

Starting out at 5:00am EST this morning, I nestled up next to my mom with a cuppa tea to watch American Meghan Markle wed European Prince Harry. We used our delicate fine bone china tea cups and floral silver rimmed side plates for our English PG tip tea and biscuit breakfast.

We sized up the fashion of wedding guests; from the fascinators to heels to color choices, we looked on with sheer enjoyment as we ourselves were comfy in our PJs and slippers. I couldn’t help but remember the last Royal Wedding I watched seven years ago and wished my mom was with me then. She was in South Africa and I was in South Carolina. For today’s moment in time, we were both in Michigan.

Today was emotional for several reasons.

Marriage.

I was looking forward to marriage. The timeline was set: engaged this summer, married next summer, engagement events in and between and across two continents.

But I’m not. And I’m not in that relationship anymore.

Today, I was confronted [again] with this reality as I watched the royal wedding. The anticipation, the consideration of the cross-cultural relationship, the diamond ring…..

Royal Wedding.jpeg

I thought about how I was “Princess Megan [sans h]” to him.

Recently, I deleted a google document that contained the images of ring[s] potential I would have liked on my hand, the timeline of different events to happen in the U.S. and in Europe, and some musings of wedding decorations to have at said events. The deleted file has freed up space – both virtual and mental. I’m still working on the emotional.

It’s that Season.

Over the past few weeks, I have been confronted with the reality that more of my university friends, childhood friends, and career friends are announcing engagements, getting married, and having babies.

And now, more confrontational than ever before, I’m in a space of singleness.

Yet today, I was encouraged with a renewed sense of purpose on and for my own timeline. I’m building my own career track and (re)negotiating my own sense of identity as an Adult Third Culture Kid. Why should I allow society, community, family, or friends dictate what it means to live life according to a proverbial “ticking clock.” Why do I permit them so much power sometimes?

It’s been somewhat of a personal challenge over the past few months to feel authentically and fully happy for the engagement, marriage, and baby announcements across my various networks as my own prospect for these life markers seem dimmer and dimmer. Closer networks populate my phone screen with their celebratory announcements: a friend texts me the best photos of her engagement photo shoot, another shares over a skype call that she found out the day before she is pregnant, yet another displays beautiful shots of her wedding events as I scroll through my social media accounts. I simply love their joy and appreciate their willingness to share it with me. They have a radiant spirit of authenticity and of electric happiness as they embark on their new paths with the partners they have chosen.

Love is always a choice.

While my community certainly advocated for and supported my past relationship, I knew in my heart of hearts that I wasn’t being authentic in it. It took some coaching, mentorship, and deep reflection to be honest with myself and to choose myself. And I’m on a journey to completely understand who is this ATCK at 31 years old.

Meghan Markle, 36, met her prince 16 months ago. Over the past year, they have surely discovered both nuanced and overt differences and similarities and mishaps and funhaps of their cross cultural relationship. Surely they will discover more. My own cross-cultural relationship was full of them. Today, I am thrilled for these newly weds. I am inspired by their timeline. I think that when you’re older, you know faster who you want to do life with; who you want as a witness to your life and whose life you want witness. Because you have had time to have a fuller understanding of yourself.

Love is powerful.

“There’s power in love. Don’t underestimate it. Don’t even oversentimentalise it. There’s power – power in love. . . There’s power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will.”  – Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry

As an ATCK now into my thirties, I’m (re)discovering how and why my globally mobile childhood and early adulthood has shaped who I am and if it is who I would like to stay. Today, although a bit sad because of my own sparkly girly dreams shelved, I am confident that I need to continue to lean into myself to believe in greater and better things to come — professionally and personally. Self-love is powerful. Don’t oversentimentalise it. Don’t underestimate it. Simply do it.

Be Thou My Vision, God of Love and Life.

Today, I am confronted with my gratefulness for this time and space and place in life. It is an intersection of rest and growth and cultivation of who and what and where I want to be this summer and next and the non-rush of it all. “Be Thou My Vision” and “Stand By Me” are two of my favorite songs. FAVORITE. And they were played at the Royal Wedding today.

Such a beautiful personal reminder that God gives good gifts to His children. This time in my life is a gift. And so, let me shine my light for God as He stands by me. After all, I am Princess Megan to Him.

FIGT 2018

Families. In. Global. Transition.

Take a look at each of those words individually. I am curious: which one or ones are the reasons you attended or are thinking to attend the annual Families in Global Transition conference?

I have looked at each of those words separately and have considered which one of the four is the reason why I have attended the Families in Global Transition conference for the past three years.

Transition.

My first FIGT conference was three years ago in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. I attended the one last year in The Hague, The Netherlands, and the one this year also in The Hague. Every year I’ve shown up with a different identity and with an entirely different research presentation.

Every year, I have been in a very different transition compared to the one I was in the year before.

Over the past three years, I have moved six times in three countries and five cities. I graduated from American University with my second Masters degree, completed a summer intercultural communication and personal leadership course, held three jobs, and co-founded a business. I have delivered over 30 presentations – both virtual and in person – and have become a co-chair of a global nomad member interest group at NAFSA. In a word, my life has been about:

Transition.

In 2016, I attended the FIGT conference with the identity of graduate student presenting research on the intersection between retirement and reentry for global families to their passport country. Having observed my parents go through this exact process the year before after living a global life for 40+ years, I spent my last semester of graduate school collecting data and stories about global families’ experiencing their new-found retirement. I’ll post the report in the Academic Section of this blog platform.

FIGT 2016

In 2017, I attended the FIGT conference as an expat English language instructor in Poland. I presented my “single expat story” during the ignite/lighting speech part of the conference. This platform allowed me to share my perspective of the challenges and opportunities for a single adult living abroad. Again, personally, I was in a transition phase in life trying to find my path after graduate school

FIGT 2017

This year, 2018, I attended the FIGT conference as an independent consultant with Intercultural Transitions and led two presentations in The Hague: one as the Millennial Forum discussant leader and one as the Adult Third Culture Kid panel facilitator. These two leadership opportunities provided platforms for me to transition from my previous FIGT identities into one that I finally feel will stick around awhile: scholar-practitioner – that is, I conduct research and then implement it either through my own writing or own presenting. In other words, I help others:

Transition.

FIGT 2018

And this brings me to my perspective about how FIGT can

Transition.

From my three year experiences at the conference, the main focus of the attendees has been on the word Families. I get it. That’s why the organization was founded; to provide resources and research to families about how to successfully navigate a life overseas. This focus shouldn’t change. But I think there needs to be a shift in the nature of the conference itself.

Attending the conference feels like a family reunion. This year, I felt like I was seeing my older sisters present on their bad-a$$ consultancies and businesses. I felt like I was sharing both my professional and personal news to my inquisitive aunts (they were curious about my love-life even). And, I felt like I was introducing my friends (my first time attendee panelists) to my extended relatives I haven’t seen in a year. It is a cosy and secure feeling at this conference. I felt the support and the space to be vulnerable.

I even call one couple at the conference my FIGT parents. They made my attending the conference financially possible. They are my adopted FIGT parents and I love them so much! I am so grateful for their support and their belief in my vision. They told me, “Your voice needs to be heard at the conference. You need to be a part of the conversations.”

This conference is fondly called by many, “a reunion of strangers.”

But family, in my opinion it’s time to transition a bit, to pivot a little in our perspective and our approach of this “reunion.” Of this annual meeting. We need to in a word:

Transition.

And over the past three years, I have seen the beginning of this transition.

  • We need to invite others to our transition table.
  • We need to be intentional about gate-keepers who can provide funding for transition seminars.
  • We need to dig deep into transition research. I’m talking about peer reviewed research. Not “I’ve got a hunch” research.
  • We need to make our reach broader.
  • We need to diversify.

I had someone tell me at this most recent conference that they felt “left out” because they didn’t know the family as well as I did. They observed the hugs and smiles and inside jokes. And felt that they weren’t a part of the family reunion.

We need to take heed to this perception.

Transition.

  • Transition to hold more seats at the table.
  • Transition to connect with as many as we can at the conference.
  • Transition to a network that goes beyond the family unit. To the units that operate outside our family unit.
  • Transition from privilege.
  • Transition from inside/outside.

There is no doubt in my mind that we are on that track.

We need to remember that transition takes time.

Let’s not beat ourselves up that we haven’t arrived there. Let’s celebrate the 20 years this organization has grown and empower each other to expand it.

Thank you for making membership affordable for us millennials in transition. Thank you for giving us a platform. Thank you for giving us the space to share our perspectives. Thank you for asking for our input. Thank you for listening to us about how the family can diversify.

I look forward to seeing you all next year.

Oh, and family, since we’ve gone there in our conversations, I wouldn’t be opposed with you playing matchmaker for me. I would like to transition into a partnership. And perhaps, within the next few years, arrive with Family being the most significant word to me at the Families in Global Transition conference.

Love,
Megan

The Parentals’ Retirement

Excerpt on Retirement : “That night before I returned to D.C., Dad, Mom, and I sat around our campsite fire in the campground on the outskirts of town. We stared into the burning embers as we thought about this new chapter in our lives. I looked up and told them how I admire them for their lifelong practice of seamlessly moving in and between social spaces gracefully and of being comfortable with interacting with anyone while having the ability to form meaningful conversations. I explained that I love the way they value relationships they have had overseas and how I sense how eagerly they look forward to those they will engage in domestically.

Most importantly, though, I told them that I was happy that they still had their wanderlust youthful spirit to travel and to be adventurous. … ….At that moment, I saw the glow of satisfaction that not only had they anchored themselves to a place but had positioned themselves to lead us in a new story. A story with a HOME we chose for ourselves.

What is Success?

Personal Identity in “Success” : I am proud to be a millennial Adult Third Culture Kid. In and through these identities, I’m not necessarily following/have followed a linear path of/to “success”: good grades = good university = good job = good family = good retirement. That formula doesn’t/isn’t/hasn’t defining/ed my path. My “success” is not necessarily stability and security in my job. It is not my life structure [right now]. My generation and my fellow Adult Third Culture Kids are (re)structuring what “success” is and what it looks like. We value work-life integration, flexibility, sustainability, purpose, and intrinsic motivation. Our “risk” looks different from other generations’ “risk.” We value being someone rather than being something. We know that what we don’t want is just as important as what we do want.

: :

My narrative is different from your narrative, fellow ATCK. But we have a thread of similarity in our drive for “success.”

ATCK Conversations

Hey, Adult Third Culture Kids : Hold conversations with fellow TCKs. Discover how/if your identity is (dis)embedded in location, people, belongings, systems, ____________. Discuss core values and ways of knowing and being fundamental to your community. Unpack the culturally complex and nuanced life you lead. You’ll find commonality and clarity. And trust me: there is healing and closure in the process. 

And quite frankly, the unexamined life stifles growth.