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12 Inevitable Experiences That Third Culture Kids Are Familiar With

12 Inevitable Experiences That Third Culture Kids Are Familiar With

If you have a large family you’ve probably experienced a variety of customs and celebrations growing up. You might have relatives spread all over the world. Your parents might be from two different cultural backgrounds, but your grandparents are from another. There are so many beautiful ways to experience life, but not everyone gets that. Unfortunately, there are some experiences that third culture kids know all too well.

Let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the humorous parts of growing up in a multi-cultural family.

1. You dread the question: “Where are you from?”

This is an all too familiar scenario. You are meeting a bunch of cool new people and small-talk ensues. “Where do you work?” “Where did you go to school?” Your heart starts pounding. It won’t be long now until they ask the Origin Question. You wonder how you can condense your life story into two sentences: “My parents are from Location A, but I was born in Location B, and now I live in Location C…” Can we just skip to the next person, please?!

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2.  Holidays are always a big production.

Ah, the holidays. The cheer in the atmosphere, the nippy air, the how-do-I-divide-myself-across-the-continents-this-year? Remember, you gotta send those Christmas cards to your friends in Australia, your relatives in Europe and America, and somehow find your way into your mother’s arms in Asia come Christmas Day!

3. You spend a lot of time on Face Time, Skype, and WhatsApp.

Your phone isn’t running your life, your phone is your life! How else are you going to keep in touch with your mom, dad, brother, sister, childhood best friends, and everyone else without these lifesaving apps? Whether it’s just to say hello or send a picture of that new beau you’re dating, you better be sure everyone’s waiting for a mobile update.

4. You’re always in the state of missing.

When you’re in New York, you miss pochero the way they cooked it in the Philippines. When you’re in the Philippines, you miss the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, or the cafe con leche in Spain. You become attune to things you didn’t even know you noticed: the smell of lavender powder your mother always used, the inflections of speech, the way sweat would cling to your legs on those summer days your spent by the beach… It just makes you wax poetic.

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5. You pick up accents like the Talented Mr. Ripley.

You’re a con artist in the way your accent magically switches depending on who you’re talking to. Most of the time, you sound like a regular American, but your friends think it’s hilarious how you sound glaringly different when you’re talking to your dad on the phone, or whenever you just got off the plane from some exotic locale. Which brings us to the next point.

6. You are bilingual.

Or most probably multilingual. You were modest about it, up until that one night when you had one too many margaritas and started talking to your friends in Spanish/French/Arabic.

7. Travel is like second nature to you.

You absolutely cannot relate to people who say it is their first time on a plane. What’s the fuss all about? You’ve got your neck pillow, a glass of wine, and hundreds of movies to choose from. Chill out. The airplane (and the airport) is your home. Mi casa es su casa, right?

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8.  A part of you will always feel like an outsider.

No matter where you decide to hang your fedora, you always feel a teeny-tiny bit on the outside looking in. You’re not completely from the place you’ve currently decided to call home, but you’re no longer from the other places that you used to call home either. The truth is, you’re not completely from anywhere. However, once you get over the violin music you started hearing when you had that thought, you realize that “home” and “belonging” is less about physical location, but how the people in your life make you feel.

9. You have friends on almost every continent.

Airbnb? Who needs that? Since birds of the same feather flock together, you have friends in New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Korea, Singapore, France, etc., etc., etc.

10. You suck at goodbyes.

Even though your life has been a blur of comings and goings, nothing can make you tear up faster than someone saying the G-word. If you’re anything like me, you probably substitute the hated G-word for “See you soon,” even though you know full well that you probably won’t see that person for the next year – or three.

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11. You’re pretty open-minded.

Stinky tofu? Get in my mouth. Need to cover myself from head to toe to enter the temple? It’s handled. You’re taking me to the club in that little rickshaw? On it. You are very much aware of different cultures and traditions and know that what’s faux pas in one country may be the opposite in another. You’ve learned to go with the flow, keep your mind open, and appreciate the differences.

12. You’ve learned that it is indeed possible to have both roots and wings.

For better or for worse, life has been one crazy, global adventure. Even though sometimes you wish things were simpler (and fantasize about shipping all your family and friends into one town), you know that you wouldn’t exchange your experience for anything. Because all the places you’ve been, all the weird food you’ve eaten, all the different people you’ve met – they all make up who you are today.

That just got deep. Mic drop.

Featured photo credit: Travel Necklace via flic.kr

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Last Updated on January 24, 2021

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

    Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

    Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

    6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

    If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

    Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

    Final Thoughts

    Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

    Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

    Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

    More Tips on How to Say No

    Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
    [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
    [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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