Identity, Issue 53, Life

Dear Kallos: I often feel like I’m not ‘American’ enough for the Americans, and not ‘Singaporean’ enough for the Singaporeans.

Dear Kallos: I often feel like I’m not ‘American’ enough for the Americans, and not ‘Singaporean’ enough for the Singaporeans.

I go to an international American school, but I live in Singapore. I often feel like I’m not ‘American’ enough for the Americans, and not ‘Singaporean’ enough for the Singaporeans. I just feel like I don’t fit in anywhere. What should I do? -Confuzzled and Lonely

dear Confuzzled and Lonely,

My heart hurts hearing you share how you feel about not fitting in. Straddling two different cultures and trying to find one’s footing in either isn’t easy. Perhaps you may identify with the term ‘Third Culture Kid’ (or TCK for short), which is used to describe someone who has been raised in a culture different from their parents’, or from the culture they are currently living in. I want you to know that you aren’t alone in feeling this tension as the world grows increasingly globalised.

As an encouragement to you, the beautiful thing is that in Christ, all of us are ‘third culture’. When we become Christians, we are issued a new identity, a new passport and nationality, so to speak! We have citizenship in this world, but also in the kingdom of heaven. We have a foot in both cultures, not quite fitting in completely in either. My hope is that as you journey with other Christians in your community, you might find that nationalities and cultures don’t have to matter as much as it currently appears. 

There was a time in my life when I was in a new environment. I felt lonely and unsure about how to go about making friends. One night, I told God my fears and asked for something on my heart. I prayed that He would bring me good friends — ones that I could laugh with, cry with, and be myself with. I also prayed that God would bring friends who had the same values as me, so that we would spur one another on in our faith. To my amazement, God answered beautifully. 

These same friends are still my closest friends more than 15 years on. Among them are ones who became my bridesmaids and ones who have journeyed with me through motherhood. I urge you to do the same — to pray and trust that God will bring friends who can cross these cultural boundaries and be the encouragement you need. 

Dear sister, nothing is ‘wrong’ with you. God made you — precious, special, and loved. I truly believe that as you keep praying and trusting God, making the effort to get to know more people, and choosing to be a good friend to others first, you’ll start to feel less out of place. It will take time, so don’t rush it. These friends may not even come from school but other circles, like from church, your neighbourhood, or elsewhere! 

Above all, remember that God is your closest friend, and He is always walking with you through the good and the bad. Take heart! 

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