I was given an assignment to write a paragraph about 'belonging' this week. As soon as I heard this,
I groaned internally (as I'm sure all Third Culture Kids do) As a somewhat rootless
person, I dread topics such as these as 'getting to know you' exercises, but, hey... there are always
more pressing things to complain about. Anyway, I thought I had nothing to say on the assigned
subject and ended up writing more than what was required. I guess I had something to say. Here
The subject desires it and struggles with it simultaneously. They acknowledge that it can never be a
physical place. That’s impossible. Although, it can be a physical feeling. With muscles completely
relaxed, you can breathe with an ease you’d forgotten was even possible. The sense that nothing
about you is missing. The puzzle is complete. The glass is full. The jokes are landing. The crowd
The subject finds they can be instilled with a peace that is difficult to come across these days. A
peace and an assurance of sense of self, the space you occupy and operate within.
However, this occurrence can be a rare thing. So rare, in fact, that once it happens, the subject finds
it hard to let it go. They begin to bathe in it. Roll around in it, like a child discovering glitter for the first
time. Covering themselves in every inch of the colourful stuff. So that when they leave, they’ll still find
little pieces of it wherever they go.
Without it, with no anchor, this allows for anxiety to manifest and encourage your sails to take you
here there and everywhere, until the wind stops blowing and you’re alone in the middle of the ocean.
One can feel lost. Out of place. Slightly, off kilter. It means you have to look over your shoulder. Check
reflections in shop windows. Double double check that you took the right turn.
The subject has not, and will not decide where they belong. And so, it becomes self-imposed duty of
others to establish it. Where do you live? Where are you from? What do you family do? I don’t know.
Why d’you ask? Is it because I say ‘marzipan’ differently? Is it because my accent allows you to
make the assumptions that I am something ‘other’ than you? Is it because my likes and dislikes do
not match the assumed ‘other’ you have connected me with? Is it because it makes you
uncomfortable not knowing where to place me? Put me? Somewhere where you can see me?
Of course, once whittled down it is but a concept. Because that is all it is. A concept of acceptance.
And this concept, is what can give your life value. Something one can create within oneself, in an
instant (this is only if you try really really hard). But the subject is tired. And busy, for now. And has