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  • Writer's pictureSasha Young

Multi-cultural Wisdom for feeling "At Home"

Last week I co-hosted a Zoom conversation around how it feels to be living a “third culture life” right now. My co-host was Christina Park, who is a counsellor for individuals and couples at Alliance Counselling Singapore. She has a multi-cultural upbringing herself and is experienced in addressing third culture identities from a counselling perspective.

We were joined by a group men and women with whom the issue of “Where is Home?” resonates - whether because have third culture kids, are we are third culture kids ourselves, or have been away from home for long enough to be missing it or feeling rootless.

Home seemed to be where family is for a lot of people. It was also described by a few simply as “where I am”. It was interesting that our conversation highlighted a sense of flexibility and resilience that some of us felt allows us to consciously choose where and how we want to put down roots.

And we agreed that having this sense of control, mitigated a lot of the uncertainty that we might otherwise carry as a result of living a third culture life.

Related to ideas of influence and control, the notion of acceptance came up frequently in this weeks’ conversation - how can we help ourselves to accept what we cannot control? - and around two key issues in particular: having families split internationally; and feeling like “a foreigner” at times in the places where we have chosen to settle.

Overall the collective multi-cultural wisdom of our call recommended:

  • Self-care: make time and space to simply be in the moment doing something we enjoy - for ourselves on our own terms - whether it’s restoring furniture, savouring a glass of wine or going for a run.

  • Self-compassion: acknowledging when circumstances feel tough and that it’s ok to be sad or pissed off about them. Taking a moment to sit in acceptance makes it easier to pick ourselves up and move forwards again.

  • Friends: spending time with friends - which isn’t the same as socialising! There was heartfelt appreciation of being able just to be our authentic selves, judgement-free, with other people who we genuinely like and who are going through challenges too. We know that we have a shoulder to lean on when days feel tough and our friends know that they have the same with us. Authentic friendship is a beautiful thing!

  • Gratitude: counting our blessings. Being grateful for moments and encounters in each day, big or small. I highly recommend taking a couple of moments when you first wake up to quiet those pesky thoughts of what you’ve got to get up and do. Think, instead, of a couple of things that happened yesterday or that you have to look forward to today that are cool or funny or sweet. I guarantee you’re set to enjoy your first cup of coffee or tea with a smile on your face.

Some of the parents in the group shared concerns for their own third culture kids’ sense of identity. We agreed that, as a child or teenager, it may feel more complicated to come from a multi-layered background and to develop our own sense of who we are, which may be quite different to our parents’.

But, overall, the group agreed that the opportunities presented outweighed those challenges: a third culture or multicultural life brings a plethora of opportunities for our kids to develop strengths in personal awareness and self-confidence, and to build a network of contacts, friends and mentors from almost any walk of life… The key takeaway: our kids will be ok, just as we, their parents, are!

In conclusion, one of our group described our conversation as restorative. I think she was spot on. I left our call on Friday afternoon with self-care and self-compassion present in my mind, along with plans to spend time with friends and gratitude for where I am right now. I can honestly say I had one of my most productive, settled and contented weekends of the year so far.

What would be your best advice for creating that settled sense of home right now? Please share in the comments below!

And, as always, you can book a consultation with me here...

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