“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?’ …Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you… When we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson
Often our best traits are those that we take for granted. Third Culture Kids (TCKs) come in different flavors, but we instinctively have two of the most invaluable traits in today’s world: listening and respecting others.
In America, we are blessed with the Freedom of Speech, and many people feel the need to exercise it 24/7. But when everyone talks, no one listens, and this creates destructive angst. The root of many of society’s ills from divorce to crime can be traced to the lack of listening.
Listening fosters peace and learning. It makes people feel included and relevant, and you can learn a tremendous amount simply by being a good listener.
Once upon a time, France designed, built, and shipped a statue to commemorate the 100th anniversary of America’s founding – all for free. The Statue of Liberty quickly became a beacon of light and hope for millions of immigrants. Unfortunately, our relationship has recently reached an all-time low because we stopped respecting them.
Things like leadership and friendship are built on mutual respect, not agreement. Disagreements occur in most working relationships, but they are seldom fatal in themselves. However, when you lose respect for others, you instantaneously lose credibility and break all bonds with them.
These two abilities can help you outshine people without them – but only if you listen to and respect yourself. Too often, TCKs sacrifice their own needs and abilities in an effort to fit in or to be ‘useful,’ but this benefits no one. Listen to your heart, and do what you love, what you excel at. This may sound easy, but it will be one of the hardest things you ever do.
Yes, life isn’t fair. We did not ask for these gifts or our experiences, but they were given to us. We are weary of hardship and may feel inadequate to the task ahead. Such is life as a TCK – wishing things were different won’t make them so. We cannot rewrite history, but we can make history in our own small way. Let us resolve to make the most of our gifts and to become a beacon of light for others, encouraging them to shine as well.