I’ve always felt different. A square peg in a round hole (or is it the other way around? I much prefer circles than being ‘square’).
It didn’t help that I was a three year old foreigner to a strange land–America–trying to reassemble my short life existence into more than “Hi, my name is…” and “I come from…”. It was all I knew how to say in English.
Growing up different in a white neighborhood meant that I was always teased. It meant that I was bullied. And pushed and shoved around. And even spit on.
My saving grace were my passions.
I loved to draw.
I loved to paint.
I loved to read.
I loved to play violin.
And then in 1998, I loved the internet.
I met people “IRL” before it was common to do so and people were wary and full of caution. I taught myself html. I made websites on AOL and Angelfire. I joined penpal clubs for kids. Just to reach out. Just to see if anyone like me was out there. I blogged before Livejournal and everything was done manually. We called it “online journals” back then.
Just to see if anyone like me was out there.
I remember meeting this girl. My parents assisted me and her parents assisted her. We were only 13. We met in Skate World, that backwards suburbs roller skating rink that reminds me of K-Mart. Brand name relics from our past disregarded as rejects and obscured through the decades. The bygones.
I never saw her again. Bye. Gone.
She wasn’t like me. I couldn’t relate. We had nothing in common.
Sure, I had friends growing up. But I was extremely shy and socially awkward. Heck, I still am. Hiding behind words. And laptop screens. And pixels.
Just to see if anyone like me is out there…
The internet is my home.
Where regions and geography and cultures fail me, the internet picks me up from obscurity and makes me feel like I can be myself, uninhibited.
From East to West to back again.
Living in the Philippines, and a stranger in my own motherland. The disassociation. I am back again. Not back to being bullied. But back to being disoriented. You’d think after two years of being in the Philippines, I’d adjust. But it’s been a long road.
I grew up white. Culturally.
Half of me is American.
Half of me is Filipino.
I grew up hating being Filipino. Everything about the culture sickened me. But now I am growing a slow hatred for being American. Disappointed by big government and politics. The pointless consumerism and in your face marketing.
That hatred for self. Is still hatred for self.
How do I reconcile my relics?
Practice self-love without self-doubt?
If I don’t like my American side, and don’t like my Filipino side and can’t relate to either anymore, what is there left to like?
No, I don’t hate myself but sometimes I don’t know how to identify.
I never take the easy way…
Traversing cultures. Feeling like I don’t belong. Cultural identity issues. It’s the classic case of a third culture kid. I discovered the term a month ago.
A Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of [their] developmental years outside the parents’ culture. The TCK frequently builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture may be assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background.
Once I found that my feelings are fairly common amongst others with a similarly helter-skelter cultural background, I began to feel relief. Relieved!
I neither feel American nor Filipino. And as a third culture kid, that’s “normal”.
I was born to be a rebel.
We are rebels by default.
We are global citizens first, and our country of origin last.
We are cultural bridges.
We are world changers.
We are jetsetters.
But seeking connections and bridging the gaps.
Trying to navigate space and time just like everyone else.