The following post was taken from an old blog of mine, dated July 12, 2012.
I’ve moved around so much that I’ve told my story more in 21 years than most people would have in their entire lives.
And when I tell people I’m from the Philippines, one of the most common responses I get is “your English is so good!”
It’s not offensive in the least to me, but it does show that the speaker has no idea what a third culture kid is, and they probably haven’t met any. If you’re a TCK, you know why my English is good. You’ve been there. We come from a new breed of a culture; we’ve all been the foreigners in what society says should be our native country. We’ve lived our lives within a subculture of subcultures. We’re all different–even from each other.
And in my experience, we’ve crafted an extra layer of protection for ourselves. I can feel it in the way I interact with others, and since I know it, I can see it in others as well.
At the very least, my past has made it so that I can tell which of my friends are really in and who just needs a passing friend. I’m able to discern who looks around and sees the people surrounding him or her as temporary. I can feel when someone makes a friend and doesn’t necessarily plan on ditching them, but doesn’t plan on keeping them either. Usually it comes as a defensive technique of someone who has switched groups too often.
The thing is, I only see this in people because I know it. I know what it feels like to weigh risk and reward when investing yourself in someone. I know what it’s like to put a time-stamp on a friendship. It takes a lot to be friends with someone; you have to learn their story and tell yours. You invest time, money, laughter and memories with that person. You have to make sure the investment is a wise one.
But that’s no way to decide who to be friends with. It’s sad that sometimes I look at the rationality of being someones friend more than focusing solely on who they are and whether I would like to learn their story.
Something that takes a lot of the complicated guesswork and strategy out of choosing who to invest in is family. Family cannot be replaced, nor can they replace you. So in my mind, investing friendship in family members is a safe move. They already know your back story, you just have to keep them updated.