Growing up, I was always an expat kid. My family and I lived in a compound in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. We attended the Saudi Arabian International School, known now as the American International School of Jeddah. And we visited Lebanon and Canada very often. When anyone asked me where I was from, I would say Canadian Lebanese. But I didn’t really know what that meant. Also, I had spent 95% of my life in Saudi Arabia but didn’t share that as my identity. Thus, I am a third culture kid.
Wikipedia defines a third culture kid as the following:
a term used to refer to children who were raised in a culture outside of their parents’ culture for a significant part of their development years.
Third Culture Kid Identity Crisis
In Saudi Arabia, it was wonderful getting to know people from all over the world. My father taught us how to appreciate different cultures and not to jump to judgement (thanks dad for helping us develop some cultural intelligence). We lived a good life with a lot of travel. My family was close because we were a minority. It was a good childhood.
I looked to Lebanon for my identity. Though I am very fond of my ethnic background, it became apparent to me that the Lebanon my parents raised me to identify with no longer existed. Lebanon had moved on. Grown. Changed.
Later, when I moved to Canada for university, I learned more about the Canadian culture. More importantly, I learned about other Lebanese Canadians. I realized that these cultures were more unfamiliar to me than the Saudi culture. Since then, I have also lived in France and Kuwait, and each of these countries has also become part of my identity. So, when people ask me where I am from, they get to the heart of my identity crisis.
My Identity Crisis
Because I grew up in a culture I do not call my own, I am at a limbo trying to identify with one culture. I tried. I wanted to be able to say one country when people asked where I was from. But, whatever I said, it wasn’t the truth. So, I finally came to the conclusion that I identify with all the countries I’ve lived in and will live in. I’m afraid I will have to bore you with a long answer if you ever ask me where I am from.
How much do you really identify with the culture you say you’re from?