Creative thought, one of the world’s most valuable commodities, is something that has started to become somewhat elusive as our generations have progressed. It’s a principal that is born of original thought, the need to invent, and the want to produce something that others will seek value in. It has led to the development of the wheel, to the creation of the keystone arch, the sundial, the plough, the lens, the camera, the story, the song, the car, the computer, and the hadron collider. It has developed our species, improving our state of living and the reasons for which we live. Creativity, as a force, is what brought us from hunting with sharpened sticks to flying through space.
Yet that word, creativity, one we use so frequently for so many things, holds a weight to Third Culture Kids that’s only outmatched by the word “culture.” Of course, if you were to look a little closer, to really examine the core concepts of both those words and the implications that each of them posses, you would find that not only are they connected, but they are almost inseparable.
Being creatures of culture, TCKs posses that natural ability to rapidly evolve their cultural standpoint based on the community that surrounds them. We have a way about us, one that does not allow for us to be considered the same as those we interact with, but instead allows us to be accepted by them. We can see what others cannot, can move in circles where others would be outcasts. We view culture not as a boundary, but as a gateway into the heart of the world.
As TCKs, we do it subconsciously, unaware that we are behaving this way but aware of our talents and our ability to meld into something new. We missed it as we grew up, took it for granted as children while we hopped from place to place, but since we have matured and grown and become the Adult Third Culture Kids we are now, we have seen how naturally these behaviours are to us by watching how impossible they are for our First Culture Kid friends.
The question that remains, however, is what power does creativity have in the hands of a TCK? Creativity is a mental state that’s not accessible by everyone. It’s a unique problem solving technique for an extremely unique type of problem. Humanity is hard-wired to only understand patterns. For example 1+1=2 because every time you take the number one and add another number one, you always end up with two. Why? Because it always happens, and it happens because that’s just the law of mathematics. Creatives, however, push the bounds of that human limitation. We accept the laws because they are there, but we believe in that off-chance that maybe, just maybe, by some freak possibility or coincidence, the next time I take one apple and add another apple to it, a third apple will spring into existence and I’ll have three apples. We know it’s foolish, we know that based on the laws of mathematics and the physical restrictions of our universe it’s impossible. But we hope for the alternative.
This constant longing for the middle ground between impossible and spectacular is a trait that we incorporate into our regularly occurring existence. There’s no denying the fact that we, as TCKs, do not have a cultural home, possess no country in which we can return to, and have no place on this planet that we truly fit into. We are trapped outside the realm of normal human interaction, completely incapable of returning to a community or culture that is truly our own. So instead, we have turned to creativity.
Through creativity, TCKs have built-up groups of people, from friends to colleagues, that are so strong and so interwoven into our lives that they have become our own little cultural home. We have selected them for their differences, for the ways in which they can help better our lives and the lives of those around them. We have selected them for their value, for their desire to improve upon a situation and the relentless need to always take that next great step. We have created a culture of people who will stop at nothing to change the world.
So when you are next asked what it means to be a TCK, answer in whichever way you believe best resolves an impossible question. But know that if you and I are ever fortunate enough to meet, and you ask that question to me, I will simply smile and say the following:
It means that one day, with the help of everyone else, one plus one will equal three.