Almost every person who has grown up overseas can safely say that they do not have a home, but have had several houses. While these two words hold synonymous meanings to most people, they cannot be more different in the eyes of a Third Culture Kid (TCK). My father is Lebanese and my mother is American, rendering my life to be in a constant state of limbo, as both countries hold varying cultural, political, and social beliefs.
I was born in Beirut, Lebanon, only to be whisked away a year later, for my father had been relocated to Syria for his job. This pattern continued for the next 17 years of my life, as I was stripped from a sense of familiarity every few years and forced to re-adjust to new countries filled with foreign people and strange lifestyles. While your house may sometimes be your home, your home isn’t always your house.
1. Your Home is Permanent
No matter where you end up, your home is a location, a feeling, or a person that you can always find your way back to. Having lived in 6 countries, I know that every house we moved to and from would never hold a sentimental place in my heart, for it was simply a shell in the sands of something much richer.
2. Your Home is How You Grew Up
Most people have a childhood home that they can always return to at any given moment. People like myself who have had to move from country to country don’t have the luxury of being able to return to our childhood homes, as they were only a small chapter of our lives and are most likely taken up by new residents. Note that the subtitle doesn’t mention where you grew up, as this would only be a house. Every single person reading this grew up in a different setting, under a different set of rules, and were exposed to distinct experiences. A home represents the challenges you’ve overcome and the daily occurrences of your ongoing life.
3. Your Home is Your Identity
TCKs can argue that living in multiple houses has given them an identity of their own; however, homes symbolize an intangible idea or belief we have grown up with. TCKs often have to resort to a mental image of their home, as it is not easy to physically visit. Like your identity, a home never really disappears but is reinforced every second of each day.
4. Your Home is a Place of Comfort
A home is a place of peace and relaxation, whereas a house is merely a temporary shelter that serves one purpose and one purpose only: convenience. I often find myself thinking of home and while I never have an exact location in mind, I know that I can seek comfort in the idea of home, for me being both of my grandmothers. You might be asking yourself how I consider people to be my home and it’s because I know I feel my safest and my best when I’m around them, which is what a home is meant to embody.
5. Your Home Takes Up a Place in Your Heart
Every so often in my AP Literature classes, we would have these moments of meditation where the whole class would close their eyes and be told to imagine a place where they feel the most at ease and where they feel the happiest. I don’t recall any one of them identifying their current houses as this special place in their heart, for they understood, whether it was subconsciously or not, that their homes either didn’t exist or were identified in other people’s houses. Mine is my grandmother’s house. While I never lived there, it is the only place I am the most familiar with, to the point where it holds a special place in my heart.
I would like to challenge the readers to think of their home. Whether it is the house you’re living in, the zoo you visit every summer, or a lingering feeling that seems too abstract to grasp, home has no concrete definition, whereas a house is merely a piece of concrete, by definition.