“Who are YOU?” The question was asked during a mom’s group I attended last week. The speaker went on, “Not, “what roles do you play?” Not, “who do people say you are?” But, who are YOU? If all those roles were stripped away, who would YOU be?” The question sank in and my mind started racing.
I’ve been better these days about processing through my feelings instead of just shrugging them off. Sitting in that room, my baby girl asleep on my chest, I realized something. I have been really good at adapting my identity to the situation, role, and culture I am a part of. I am pretty stellar at mirroring what people think or say I should be, and I think that this may be the peril of many TCKs.
See, TCKs are phenomenal adapters. We’ve become very skilled at sliding into any culture and blending in like we’re native to that place. We have subconsciously learned to notice the subtleties and nuances of the world around us so that we are able to fit in in ways that non-TCKs simply can’t. This is a precious quality and it has countless benefits. However, I’m realizing that it also can create a bit of an identity crisis.
TCKs become so skilled at morphing into who we need to be to fit into the given situation, that we are at risk of loosing grip on who we actually ARE. Who am I? What really drives me? Not, what have I been told I am or what my roles and location require me to be, but what is just ME?
The speaker sent us home with a brilliant "values" exercise, similar to this one. A list of 50 values are given from which you choose the 20 that are most important to you. Then you narrow your list down to 10, then to 5. Those 5 are your core values. The other values are still important to you, but those core 5 are what drive you in your pursuit of the other values. This simple exercise clarified so many things for me and helped me begin to weed through the adapting “me” to the core of who I am and what drives me.
If you are parenting young TCKs, be intentional about nurturing your child’s identity. Your child’s adapting nature is an incredible asset, but it is critical that they also keep in mind who they are underneath the TCK role. Talk about the things that are important to them, the things that they enjoy doing, the things that drive them. Not what anyone else says they should be or do or enjoy, but who God has uniquely created them to be. Their ever-changing environment, shifting roles, and TCK identity will absolutely play into who they become as adults. Those factors have undoubtedly shaped who I am and help to explain why my core values are what they are. But, it is critical that they know who they are at the core so they can separate their foundational-self from their ever-adapting-self. Nurture your TCKs identity so that their core remains anchored even while the rest of them plays the role of the master adaptor.