Where is home for the TCK?

A very hard question for TCKs to answer, and not to be confused with where are you from?

What “home” means to an individual is very personal and a number of definitions exist, for example, is it the house where one lives at the moment or where one’s family is? Is it where someone’s roots are, where one was born? is it any environment that offers affection and security? Is it a place where something began and flourished? Is it the country or city where you live?

TCKs commonly feel that they do not fully belong anywhere and they often say “ I belong everywhere and nowhere”. This is what happens when you are raised in a mix of cultures, a neither/nor world. Being split and sometimes in a constant state of transition between countries, houses, and/or cultures they do not have a chance to build a robust sense of what “home” is.

More often than not you will hear a TCK talk about “home” in terms of people rather than a country or a static thing. An example of this is one TCK said that it was Korea. The interviewer was surprised as he had never heard her speak of Korea before and they knew each other quite well.  She explained “….I have never been to Korea but my parents have just moved there so that is where I will be spending summer”. For her this was now “home” because her sense of home was wherever her parents were.

Physical geography is rarely associated with the sense of “home” for a TCK, it is instead defined by relationships, and it is who you are with rather than where you are in the world.

As TCKs become ATCKs (Adult Third Culture Kids), and start shaping their own lives this sense of rootlessness and restlessness can start to be a problem. The “home” they temporarily had has now gone, there is no “home” to go back to, so the world becomes your home.

This feeling of rootlessness goes hand in hand with a feeling of restlessness and the result is that the individual is permanently on the move. They develop a “migratory instinct” and this dictates their life. Sometimes this jeopardises every aspect of their existence.  They promise themselves that they will settle down but the minute they get closer to doing so they have an uncontrollable desire to move on again. And off they go, always thinking the next place will be the place to settle.