Has it really been two months?!?! Where has the time gone? I will take time later on to update you on the happenings of our lives, but for now I want to talk about something that has been on my heart and mind.
I am a "third culture kid." Wikipedia defines a third culture kid as "someone who, as a child, has spent a significant period of time in one or more culture(s) other than his or her own thus integrating elements of those cultures and their own birth culture, into a third culture." The entry in Wikipedia also goes on to say, "TCKs tend to have more in common with one another, regardless of nationality, than they do with non-TCKs from their own country."
I've always known I was different. I have always felt like I didn't fit in. I lived the first five years of my life in Bombay, India, and then moved to Henderson, Tennessee, a town where most people have never even crossed the state line. I never watched Sesame Street or Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. We didn't even have a TV in India. I started school when I was two, and by the time I was five, I could speak at least 4 languages. I was the only "white" girl (I'm counting my mom as a woman) in a city of 14 million. I ate with my hands, used a "squatty potty," and wore salvars. I carried a "tiffin" to school, wore bhindis, and drank coffee - all before age five. This was life. This was home. This was all I knew.
When we moved to the States, I would ask when we were going home. America was not home for me. I might have looked like everyone else, but in my five year old mind, this did not even register. I was not like these people.
But over the years, I became really good at being a chameleon. I started dressing, talking, eating and acting like the other children around me. I stopped talking about India because it caused the other kids to think I was weird. I just wanted to blend in - to feel like I belonged. I have done such a good job of this since I was five years old that, often, people forget that I really am different.
Just a few weeks ago, I was talking to someone and I said that I "grew up" in India. They sarcastically commented that five years is not "growing up" somewhere. I beg to differ. Not only are the first five years of your life extremely formative, but also, if spending two weeks in a foreign country can change your life, imagine what five years would do. It has an exponentially greater impact. I have lived in America for about 20 years, but a part of me will always be Indian - even though I can no longer speak the language; even though I don't have any Indian blood running in my veins; and even though I look and talk and act American. I am not American. I am not Indian. I am just Kris. I used to be ashamed of the fact that I never felt like I fit in. Now I am beginning to realize that I am a beautiful mixture of cultures, that I have understanding of the world beyond my years, and that I am blessed beyond measure. I am a Third Culture Kid.
Having said that, I want all of you to understand something. It seems silly, but I realize, after a year and a half, that people judge me because I have a nose ring. They think I am "rebellious." I think some unconsciously believe that I am not as good of a Christian because I have a piercing in my nose. It sounds so ridiculous, but that is how I am often treated by American "Christians." Nose rings are not American, nor are they a contemporary act of rebellion. Nose rings have been around for a long time and have a much deeper meaning than appearances or "just trying to be different." First of all, if you read in Genesis 22, the story of Isaac and Rebekah, you will see that a nose ring was given to Rebekah as an engagement gift from her future husband. In India (my first culture), a nose ring was originally used as a symbol of marriage - kind of like an engagement ring or wedding band in the US. It would only make sense for a girl from the Indian culture to desire a nose ring when she gets married. And just as a side note, for those who still think that I just want to get attention and rebel, I was 24 years old when I got my nose ring - and I still asked my parents permission!!
This is one of the many examples that I could bring up to describe how I am different, and how that often leads to being misunderstood or judged unfairly. Not only as a Third Culture Kid, but as a human and a Christian, I want to encourage you to see past the visible. A person is a knit-together quilt made up of culture, beliefs, trials, joys, and so much more. We each have a soul. We are each loved by our Creator. Take the time to understand who people are and where they come from before you make judgements about their character.