Where Are You From?
If you grew up overseas or as somebody who moved a lot, you probably hate this question. But where we are from is essential to who we are. It is a reference point, not only for others, but for ourselves. Everybody has an origin story and I believe that each story matters.
What's Your Origin Story?
Think about Marvel or DC. Why are there so many super hero origin movies? It's because the audience wants answers. We are curious beings and we are interested in the growth and development of others. It helps us understand them.
If you never knew how Batman came to be, his story wouldn't make sense. In fact, it would be a little frightening. But knowing that he saw his parents murdered and was training in the League of Shadows provides context. It suddenly makes the hate for guns, the drive for cleaning up Gotham, and the reason for his being all make sense.
But for people who have grown up in the third culture, it is oftentimes very hard to answer the question: "Where did you come from?"
A TCK is bound to think along the lines of, "Well, I was born in Country A, but I moved to Country B, and I feel like Country B is where I really grew into who I am. But am I actually from Country B?"
The dilemma is real.
Of course, not for everybody. I have met TCKs who laugh at the idea of being from their country of birth, and claim full loyalty to the country they grew up in. I have even met TCKs who only spent a couple of years in a foreign country but already felt like it is more home to them than their country of birth ever was. In contrast to these examples, some TCKs want to avoid long explanations and discussions by just skirting the truth and saying, "I'm from Country A."
But I want to challenge you. Batman, Wolverine, and every other hero was forced to face themselves at some point and come to terms with who they truly are.
Once you feel comfortable with your identity, you will find that people will be better able to understand you; you will achieve far more of your goals because of your focus and clarity; your relationships will foster in a much more genuine and enriching fashion.
Feeling lonely is a terribly heavy burden to carry. My message to you is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
My name is Kasen Dai Wysong.
I was born in Wausau, Wisconsin. When I was three years old, my family moved to Kiev, Ukraine.
4, 932 miles separate Ukraine from Wisconsin. Most of that is the Atlantic Ocean.
I attended a private international school called Kiev Christian Academy. From three years old to sixteen, I lived a very happy existence in this "foreign" country. It was home to me. Every other year we would spend a summer in the United States raising support for another two-year stint.
In my mind, the United States was a magical place. Wal Mart, the movies, Burger King, Doritos, Peanut Butter, etc. The list of curiosities was endless. But it wasn't just the material differences that stood out to me. I noticed the people, who, to put it bluntly, were different. Or maybe I should say, I was different.
I Didn't Fit In: A Third Culture Kid's Dilemma
And when we move back to Wisconsin in 2012, I had no idea what I was getting into.
Sure, I attended lectures about transitioning. I knew the whole "RAFT" concept and, honestly, I didn't pay much attention to it. I knew I had a unique upbringing, but I thought that fact would play to my advantage. It didn't.
I encountered some interest from people (usually they were older), and my cynical mind began to categorize the people I told about where I was from. These were the categories: The Impressed, The Unimpressed, and The Ignorant.
I was embittered towards where I was living and the people who were now in my life. I missed Ukraine and convinced myself that things were better there.
All of that is a bit hard to admit, but I'm confessing this because I want you to know that I get it. I understand the anger and the bitterness that can come with moving. I know what it is like to miss places or people you love. I have felt extreme anxiety and stress. I get it.
But this is not a website for condescension or anger. It's not a website for nostalgia or sympathy. On the contrary, this site is designed to:
A third culture kid's frame of reference will be different, because their whole worldview is structured from what they've seen and experienced growing up in a country other than the one they were born in. That's not to discredit somebody who has lived in one town their whole life, it's just to say that I see so much potential in third culture kids. Especially as globalization is rapidly occurring with new, improved technology.
Third Culture Journey is the catalyst of a big movement to let any and every third culture kid in the world know that they are not alone.
WE are not alone.
I entered into some of the darkest moments of my life because I thought nobody cared. That's an ugly lie. There are a lot of third culture kids (whether former, current, or soon-to-be). There are a lot of people struggling with loneliness and depression. A lot of people have a hard time adjusting to wherever they are at. And this site will prove it to you.
But it's not just about identifying where you are from. That's only part of the equation. You also need to be aware of where you are, and deliberate about where you are going. People travel in different ways, some wander, some go straight from Point A to Point B, but the basic equation for everybody should look something like this:
Experiences from the Past + Fulfillment in the Present = No Regrets in the Future
This website and podcast is meant to help you conquer old fears and memories, achieve greatness, and ride into the sunset like the hero that you are.
To use a phrase a wanderer loves so dearly: prepare for takeoff.
And if you ever want to share your story, please feel free to contact me.