A joy of blogging is the number of people who come into my world. Katha is one of those people. We emailed a bit after a comment she left on Communicating Across Boundaries and today she writes a beautiful piece on living between the niches for the“Finding Your Niche” Series. You can read more about Katha at the end of the piece.
To me, the word niche implies that you have found a place you belong, a place where you can fulfill your purpose, where you’re content with life, people, surroundings, yourself.
I am not sure if I have found my niche yet.
It might be that TCKs have trouble belonging, since they travel a lot and seem to belong everywhere and nowhere. It might be that as a student (which I am) you feel a bit in between.
Between living with your parents and making a home for yourself.
Between taking in a lot of research, literature, marveling at the immensity of wisdom out there and the nagging fear how you can turn this into a future job.
Between doing what you love and doing what you have to do to pay the monthly bills. Between enjoying singleness to the fullest and the growing desire to have a family of your own.
Between reminiscing the bitter-sweet memories of my late childhood in beautiful Uganda and the feeling of being ‘grounded’ in Germany at the moment.
Between giving in to nostalgia and struggling to move on into the future.
This in-between stage I find myself in might be my niche. At least for the moment. It might be a time of waiting, but not of wasting. I have been given this time, and I am challenged to use it. Everyday.
When I re-entered Germany after two years in Uganda at the age of 14, it took me a long time to get used to my passport culture again. I felt lost and overwhelmed by all the changes that had taken place in the course of two short years.
But I found a place to belong with other TCKs at annual camps, where it was okay to be a TCK. To feel lost once in a while. To struggle through the challenges together. And to use the advantages the TCK lifestyle has to offer. A bunch of teenagers with a past in countries like Peru, Afghanistan or Zambia quickly grew into a family.
I am still part of this family today. I am done with the re-entry process, but I have something to give to those who come after, who feel lost just like I once did. And it is such a joy to watch TCKs coming for the first time – shy, lost, homesick, angry or depressed – experience healing, a sense of home and belonging, and eventually turn into confident, joyful, young leaders, who are a blessing to me and the communities they settle into.
In the last three years this family has grown. Beyond the boarders of Germany, into a European network. I am part of a committee that wants to connect TCKs across Europe, but also to share resources with TCK caregivers – about TCK camps, re-entry and pre-field orientation, challenges and advantages of a TCK lifestyle and a lot more. It is such an encouragement to connect with others and see how God is at work in other countries.
I fill my current niche with passing on some of the blessings I have received when I felt lost on my TCK journey. I am definitely not done yet, and (since we all know TCKs are like that J) I will probably have to move on very soon when I am done with my studies. The future ahead of me is exciting and scary at the same time.
Will I find another niche to fill?
I don’t know what the next steps on my journey will look like.
I love the things I am doing right now, but I also know there’s a world out there with so many countries, people and opportunities waiting to be discovered.
In moments like these, when I find myself wondering if I have invested my time in the right things and people, if I will ever find a place where I feel fully at home – in such moments it helps to remind myself of the One who created me, and who promised to carve out niches for me as I walk with him on this journey.
About the author: Katha von Dessien is a TCK, who spent some of her teenage years in Uganda and South Africa. She is now based in Germany finishing her teaching degree. More stories and thoughts she shares on her personal blog: http://thisiskatha.blogspot.de/