As a Third Culture Kid, my two worlds (Japan and the United States) tend to conflict.
As I transition between these two vastly different cultures, I frequently receive mixed social messages on how others perceive me and how I’m supposed to act. Cultural differences can be challenging to decipher for TCKs, especially if we regularly travel between our passport and host countries. Here are five mixed messages from my two worlds that, at times, have left me utterly confused:
Mixed Message #1 One world tells me I’m tall. My other world tells me I’m short.
Since I was nine-years old, I’ve lived in a country known for its petite people. Growing up, I was the “tall girl.” I towered above my Japanese friends. My long sleeves were always too short, the hems of my pant legs at my ankles.
When I was thirteen, I visited my passport country, fully believing I was unusually tall. My current height: 5 ft. 1in. (1.55 meters).
It took me about twenty minutes to realize the word “tall” is a culturally-dependent term. Suddenly, I found myself wearing heels and a dumb-founded expression. I would never purposefully make myself taller in Japan. However, I soon grew accustomed to dusting off the heels before visiting my passport country and tucking them away upon my return to my host country. Am I short or tall? The answer is never in inches or centimeters, but rather in the country I currently reside.
Mixed Message #2 One world tells me to listen. My other world tells me to talk.
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