I’m a Third Culture Individual.
I have mixed roots, American English is my mother tongue, I am fascinated by everything British and currently living in Singapore. I have childhood friends all over the world, speak multiple languages and sport an ambiguous face that begs the question, “Where are you from?” – or interchangeably, “Where is home?”
Both questions suggest a person is not a local or a native, either a transient resident or a permanent immigrant who has left their original country of origin they classify or identify as ‘home’. Home is then defined as a location, something external that comes with a set of behaviors and stereotypes that shape how you perceive that person (ie. You are from X, therefore you are A, eat B, like C…etc.); and consequently, how that person performs against these set of expectations.
To me, this is exactly what Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel, ‘Americanah’ is about (intentionally or unintentionally), which makes it so powerfully relatable and moving. It’s not just about love; or an African woman’s experiences in America told through observations in nuances of language; or about a non-American Black’s journey back home. It’s about a deeper sense of displacement, exclusion, an individual’s search for Self, and the concept of home, all of which transcend colour and race.
People often travel searching for something. Sometimes they find it in a place, or in a service, or in a love they have chanced upon, or even going back to where they started. I think the most meaningful searches are those that are internal and not hinged or reliant on anything external. I think the first step to the success of a quest, is understanding that ‘home’ isn’t so much a location, but an idea of creating a comfortable place for your Self where you are free to be yourself and taking that idea with you wherever you are so can always feel like you’re home.