As a third culture kid there is something you get to do again and again. Meet new people, make new friends, create a community. You learn to do it again and again, and again.
But that doesn’t mean it comes easily.
I have had a number of experiences in the last few months where I have been finding my place in three new communities. I’m figuring out how it all works, and I’m not loving it.
I grin and bear it, and introduce myself and try desperately to remember people’s names. I try to understand the group dynamics, figure out who is going to be interested enough in me to invest. Interested enough to take the time and effort. I know I seem confident, put on a brave face, extend a friendly handshake, but somehow I flash back to those early days in a new country when I was floundering to find a friend.
I am so worked up it’s ridiculous. I want so desperately to get things right. To make a good first impression. In these environments I get self-conscious and over-analyse everything, and then I get home and re-analyse again (with Mr if he’s lucky!) until I am certain that I could have done everything better with just a little more care.
Sometimes I feel like it would be easier to just pack it in. But anything that is worth anything takes effort. It takes an effort to remember names, and who’s child belongs with who. It takes energy to start a conversation and search for that common ground. It takes vulnerability and trust to open yourself up to the possibility of a new friendship that (let’s be honest) may or may not work.
But what’s the alternative? I believe that something in us shrivels and dies in isolation. I believe we were created to live in community. Because community is where we are supported, we are stretched, we are challenged, we are loved, we are understood, and we are heard. Community is where we grow.
Yes it’s hard, yes it can take a while, but when suddenly you get a breakthrough, and you find that point of connection, or someone gives you a random hug, that effort is worth it.
So I am not going to pack it in, I am going to persist, I am going to keep trying until I get that breakthrough.