I’ve lived in four different countries and been to nine different schools. For this reason, I also know around five different languages to varying degrees. If we’ve had any conversation at all in the real world, I’ve probably mentioned this at least once. It’s my go-to “fun fact about you” in a group setting, my standard response to the “Where are you from?” question and the topic more than half of my college application essays addressed. It had gotten to a point where I almost wondered if I was talking about it too much. I worried that it was becoming a little bit of an overshare until I realized why it was so important to me; it was a part of my own personal self-concept. The places that I have lived, the experiences that I have had, and the people who I have met along the way are all a part of me. They are a part of the journey that has gotten me here, as I sit in my apartment in Davis typing this out on my laptop, and if it’s important to me I should be allowed to share it. Another thing I hear when I talk about this, is, “That must’ve been such a tough childhood!” – and yes, sometimes it was. But I don’t completely resonate with that idea alone. In fact, I would argue that I’ve had one of the most exciting childhoods.
I’m what one would call a “Third Culture Kid” and what a typical college student in America would call an “International Kid” – and I’ll proudly own both titles. Having had the chance to experience and see the world from different cultural perspectives has opened my eyes to things I could’ve never imagined. These places shaped me into the person I am, be it through their cuisine which taught me a new appreciation for food, their people who showed me empathy, kindness, and acceptance, or their customs and traditions which instilled in me a sense of respect for things I sometimes may not understand. I was able to learn that there’s a world outside the little bubble I call “my life,” and people and places that may not look or act the same as what I’m used to, but nonetheless should be treated with equal respect. Each city I lived in added to my perspective instead of taking away from it. However, I think the biggest lesson I learned from all these moves is being comfortable with being uncomfortable. From hating to have to fit into a new world each time I moved, I started to look forward to it. I was excited about the people I would meet and the new life I would get to create. While it might all sound a bit cliche, and I’ll admit that it is, it’s a cliche for a reason. Moving around so many different places taught me home is what you make of it, and so are the experiences you have.
I think this is what has helped me a little when I think about the world today. A lot of people are uneasy with the degree of uncertainty and discomfort that we are living with right now. When will this all end? When will life go back to “normal?” When will we be able to do the things we used to do again? But focusing on the when’s and the what-ifs don’t do us any good. I believe we must accept the cards we’ve been dealt and make the best of the time we are in. We have to simply get comfortable with being uncomfortable, even if it is in this limbo of the pandemic where things start getting better and then suddenly take a turn because there really is not much else we can do. Being uncomfortable and accepting change is one of the biggest life lessons that I could have ever learned and I’m glad it was inculcated in me at such a young age because I believe personal growth really does begin at the edge of your comfort zone.