If I told you I had a split personality, you might look at me strangely and feel a little uncomfortable.
But being a TCK feels like I live a double life. I have two locations I call “home.” I have two different “lives” on two different continents. I have two sets of friends, and two different ways to connect with them. I have two identities split into two places.
I leave my host country, Japan, with bows and best wishes and enter my passport country, the US, with hugs and handshakes. I leave my host country, respectfully quiet, and I enter my passport country with outgoing excitement.
My cultural conduct becomes polar opposite in the time it takes to fly across the Pacific.
My Inner Dice
As I’ve grown up abroad, I’ve developed an “inner dice.” When I integrate into different countries, cultural “faces” have slowly formed on my inner dice. I’ve learned to flip cultural faces depending on what country I’m in. I base my greetings, behavior, and mannerisms on my surroundings.
This is a normal occurrence for non-TCKs as well. They changes “faces” depending on who they’re with, where they are, or how they want to be perceived.
But for TCKs? It’s the EXTREME version. We don’t just change how we answer a question during small talk. We change ouranswer to the question. We don’t just conform to different settings. We conform to different worlds.
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