TCK SuMMIT - Families and Relationships with Michael Oghia

Aside from being a TCK and wandering around the world in search of purpose and belonging, Michael is currently based in Istanbul working as an editor.

 Born in the US, he lived in Lebanon and India before moving to Turkey. A sociologist at heart, founder of LOVEanon, proud geek, and self-proclaimed hopeful romantic, Michael is currently navigating his mid-20s existential life crisis.

Watch the full (16 minute) video here

I really appreciate being able to be involved in the TCK Summit and I want to give you a bit of information about myself first. First of all my TCK story… like most TCKS, when I get asked where I’m from I find it hard to know where to start. I’ve spent most of my life in Kentucky but I had the travel bug in me from a very young age and by the time I finished my undergraduate degree, I moved to Lebanon to get in touch with my roots. I studied sociology and after I finished my degree, I went back to the US for 6 months and eventually moved to India where I lived for a year and a half and I’m now living in Turkey… who knows where next.

I am a co-host of TCK chat, a bi-weekly event held on the first and third Wednesday of every month, where we meet on twitter (#TCKChat) and talk around a range of issues from lighthearted topics like sports to more serious issues like racism and mental wellbeing… it’s really a chance for TCKs to come together and connect with people that you didn’t even know were out there. I went to graduate school in Lebanon where I focused my studies on love and romantic relationship formation among Arab youth. I also founded and authored a blog called LOVEanon for a few years, a chapter that I have since closed, but it was still a huge part of my early twenties experience and it is something that I’m proud of.

So, the first question is to do with what being a TCK means to me. It is really simple, as Amanda Bate puts it, being a TCK is not a label – it transcends the whole concept, it is an experience and a collection of experiences. There are many types of TCKs – I can see completely eye-to-eye with other TCKs despite not coming from a missionary, ambassador of military family, and I think that means that there must be something deeper to this experience. Being a TCK means there can be a profound understanding with others – not to say this excludes non-TCKs, but there is always going to be a part of yourself that you don’t have to explain to a fellow TCK.

There are a lot of things that have been said in regards to the traits of TCKs – whether that is that we are easily adaptable, have no trouble connecting with other cultures and so on. However I want to focus on the love part and I’ve written previously that I think there is a profound fear of intimacy that unfortunately the TCK experience could exacerbate. I think in my own experiences, intimacy is something that is very feared and hard to sustain. Why would you want to have a close connection when you know that it could move away?

I don’t know if you grow out of this, I think- I hope, that as you get older, your priorities change. I like to think that as you get older, a certain set of commitment won’t be a destabilizing force. It’s really something that I’ve struggled with and to be perfectly frank, I’m tired of breaking hearts. Our sense of belonging doesn’t belong to a physical place, which is something I’m still exploring.

I never even knew that I was a TCK until about 2010 when a good friend of mine was telling me about this. His kids were American but growing up in Lebanon and there were things that were really impacting who they were. I think communication is really important. I think that understanding what a TCK means and having a community, an understanding or framework would really help. I think the more that we understand that we are not isolated or alienated or really alone in this giant world that we want to explore, I think that will really make a difference when it comes to our own children, helping them to understand who they are at a very early age and helping them grow into it.

So how do we find support? I think that’s a great question because it is difficult. There are some dedicated people and places out there, like Amanda Bate for example who is working professionally in the field, but really one of the biggest suggestions that I have is to join a community like TCK chat. Knowing that others have similar experiences too, even if they have had really different experiences, you can feel a real connection. That can be a way to get over some of these deeper hindrances that we have to fostering long term intimacy, which is ultimately what a family has – sustaining long term bonds that drive us to happiness and fulfillment. I recommend the magazine ‘Use your difference’, check out TCK chat. I recommend for everyone to not fear being close to someone because you’re afraid about what’s going to happen or maybe that they won’t be able to go with you.

I want to say thank you for listening, please feel free to message if you agree or disagree. We need to start talking about more uncomfortable things, as a society, as a species, we need to transcend our discomfort about talking about whatever it may be, so let’s talk.

You can find Michael’s blog posts on love in Lebanon here:

Find our more about TCK chat here:

Say hello to Michael via twitter @mikeoghia