Every Story is Part of His Plan: Interview with Adult TCK Liz Lovelace (part 4)

Breanne: Okay, next question. What biblical truths or wisdom were you able to cling to, which helped you make that transition – realizing you were different and that was okay?

Liz: Umm… I think I would have to say God’s sovereignty. I understood God’s sovereignty in my life and other’s lives. That helped me accept that God had this plan for me to grow up this way. Accepting that it was good for me. God’s plan for other people was to go to college with people who were born in Wisconsin, grew up in Wisconsin, and never left Wisconsin. You know? I’m sure you run into people like that who have always lived in the same place and have ever moved. Their view of the world is very different than your own. I think understanding that God has a plan for all of us and our formative years, whatever that may be, they shape you as a person, and that’s all part of God’s plan too. I think now, there are still things that I’m learning even now at 42.

Even now, sometimes I’m like, “Why do people think this way? Why are they being so narrow-minded.” But, I think it’s even just a daily thing of realizing, “Just because I think differently doesn’t mean it’s wrong.” Trying to be more open-minded. Especially in today’s climate with politics and the coronavirus, everyone is struggling to find their place in the world and figure things out. I’d say it’s a blessing that we were living in Mexico, and we could just up and move and come back to the USA. We had the freedom to do that. But it’s been interesting even now, having experienced the coronavirus in two different countries. That’s been interesting too. I can see the valid reactions all over the world. Some countries are shutting down, some aren’t. I don’t know if it’s the TCK experience, but I can look at all these different reactions and say, “You know, they’re doing the best they can.” That’s okay.

Breanne: Yeah.

Liz: To see other people’s reactions, here in the USA specifically, people are all up in arms, and so mad about their freedoms being trampled on and places closing, and they don’t like being told to wear a mask, and they don’t like being told they can’t go out to eat anymore. You know, while I understand that point of view, I get why they think that way, I can’t relate, and I don’t share that point of view.

Breanne: I think that’s kind of a common… I relate to that. Thinking about any situation, “I understand because I understand the clockwork of the culture, but I don’t think it’s the most reasonable reaction or the most beneficial… I can’t relate.” Something like that.

I just realized I have one last question. You are raising TCKs. How has being a TCK and an Adult TCK affected the way you parent TCKs? Approaching things differently than monocultural parents parenting TCKs?

Liz: Umm… Parenting is parenting. My husband wasn’t raised as a TCK, but he can relate very well to TCKs. I think we are more open to other parenting styles and different viewpoints because we’ve seen it, we’ve experienced it. It’s important to us for our kids to learn multiple languages. It’s honestly something we’ve struggled with, getting our kids to speak Spanish. It doesn’t help that we lived in Mexico for less than four years. Alex speaks Spanish, but she doesn’t want to speak Spanish with me. I get that it’s weird. It’s odd to this day when I speak Spanish with my mom. But they need to speak it, so I need to push myself.

Being a TCK myself, I try to be more sensitive to what my kids are going through. Especially Alex, she’s eleven. I don’t know that Ivan will remember his time in Mexico. If we move to a different country again in a few years, I think living in that country will be a massive part of Ivan’s formative years. We try to be more sensitive to their emotional needs. We frequently asked Alex, “How do you feel about living in Mexico? Do you like it here?” Because of my husband’s work, we have the option to live in another country or not. It’s not like when I grew up, we always lived in Argentina. For our family, we are moving around a lot.

Breanne: And I think that’s an ever-growing trend. Traveling a lot more. Not just being a TCK but being a Global Nomad – having to move around. I don’t know.

Liz: Yeah. I don’t know, just trying to be more aware of what they might be struggling with.

Breanne: And you’ve gone through it too.

Liz: I’ve gone through it too. In Mexico, we stuck out like a sore thumb because we definitely looked like foreigners. Haha – there was that. Being sensitive to the kids in that situation. They were always the foreigner. Thankfully we found a decent school option for them. I think that’s it. Being more aware of their emotional well-being in general.

Breanne: Thank you so much, Liz! This was so awesome. I think it’s so good for me to hear different stories. I try to find overall themes. Every TCK story is so different and unique, but there are those themes. I’m trying to grasp them, so to speak.

Liz: Not every TCK I’ve talked to has struggled a lot. Every person is so different. Everyone’s life story is so different. People could have a very similar life story and approach it differently. I’ve talked to TCKs who really struggled and struggle even as adults. Others didn’t struggle at all. I appreciate you getting different stories because everyone’s story is valid. Even if you talk to someone who didn’t struggle a lot, someone else who didn’t wrestle with those issues might better relate to that person. I remember in college where people would talk about how much they struggle with something. I’d be like, I don’t struggle, so does that mean there’s something wrong with me?

Breanne: Yeah.

Liz: I just want to put that out there for some TCKs who might say I don’t have this monumental struggle. Maybe the culture they are growing up in isn’t that different from their parents’ culture, so there isn’t this vast disconnect. Maybe. I don’t know. Different people will struggle in different ways. So various stories of diverse struggles are excellent too. There’ll be something there for everybody.

Breanne: Yes.


Wow. There’s so much to unpack! I especially appreciated how she talked about realizing that other people’s upbringing, which has molded their way of thinking, is actually God’s plan for them. Our ways are not God’s ways. We might find someone’s views narrow-minded, but God can use them in ways he couldn’t use us because of their background, and vice versa!

What stood out to you all the most from this interview? I will answer all your comments 🙂

I Bring Something Different: Interview with Adult TCK Liz Lovelace (part 3)

I got to interview a close family friend, who is also an adult third culture kid (or ATCK). She shared about loneliness as a third culture kid in college, and learning to be comfortable in your own skin. This is the third part of a multi-part interview. You can read part one here, and part two here.


Breanne: So, in college, what was your experience as a TCK in college?

Liz: College was hard. Especially the first year. Like I said with high school, the beginning is always an adjustment. By the time I got to college, I had already had those experiences of being in the States and going back to Argentina. Going in, I knew I could adapt and learn. I had that in my mind.

Breanne: That’s such a TCK thing, though… adaptation. When you said, “I would just wait on the sidelines, and wait and watch and learn.” I know that a widespread TCK reaction to a new environment is kind of not doing anything for months. Watching and learning and studying the culture and setting, and then starting to interact with it. So that makes sense.

Liz: I mentioned I was fourth out of five children. I ended up going to the same college as my older siblings. That helped me going in. I had seen the college before; when we dropped off my siblings, I was there. That was an advantage. My next older brother was in college when I arrived, so I had somebody. I knew I had support – I wasn’t completely alone. It was the middle of the year, January, when I started college. I ended up rooming with my now brother-in-law’s sister. She knew I was coming, and she requested to room with me, so that worked out. I made some terrific friends in college. One of the friends I met that first semester ended up being one of my very best friends. Going into college was a little different for me than for my siblings.

The academic aspect, though, I was going from homeschool to college. I actually hadn’t finished high school. I had to take a GED exam to have a high school diploma. It was daunting. There was the question of “Will I do okay… will I be able to do the work?” High school is supposed to prepare you for college and for writing a bunch of papers. I had to write an essay about whatever, five to ten pages, for every class. I don’t remember doing that when I was homeschooled in high school. That was a big thing for me to learn to do. Thankfully I did well in college. And I made good friends. A lot of the socializing that people do in high school, I did in college. Actually, no, When I was in ninth grade in the States, I played team sports, but I didn’t again till college.

Some of the aspects of playing on a team sport are where I got most of my college experience, traveling to play other schools, things that you learn in those environments. I didn’t have that for most of the high school. In Argentina, I didn’t play any sports. Not because it wasn’t allowed, at that time, soccer wasn’t… I don’t know if I was interested. I was introverted, so I think I was too shy to find a sport I wanted to do. It wasn’t something my parents encouraged me to do either. For my brother, they saw it as something he just really loved. He played soccer. I didn’t have a sport that I loved playing or that I had to play. I think I would have enjoyed it if I had done some kind of activity. It was common as a teen to be part of a sports thing, at school or at a club. But girls’ soccer wasn’t a thing back then.

Breanne: I mean, we’re talking about Argentina. Haha.

Liz: Right. Back in the 90s. So girls soccer wasn’t a thing. I don’t remember it as something I wanted to do. College was my first experience of playing on a team for several years in a row. Many people who play sports in college played sports in high school, so they already have played sports on a team. That was new to me.

I do remember having this my first semester: This moment where I felt very alone. I think it was a free period; I was in my dorm room by myself. I guess I was journaling or reading the Bible or something like that. I just remember crying… sobbing. I felt very alone, out of place, stressed. It’s not just getting into a different culture. It’s a different culture, but all of a sudden, you have college classes and responsibility. It was this level of pressure I wasn’t used to. I remember praying and crying, and I felt so alone. I remember, specifically, God being with me in that moment. It was probably the first time in my life where I was alone, and I had to call out to God. Until then, you’re with family, when you live at home, it’s different – you aren’t alone. College was the first time I had to rely on God for companionship. Even though there were other TCKs there at that time (my brother was there, there were Spanish-speaking TCKs there, who I could talk to. Those were still new friendships too. There were actually two TCKs there, one from Uruguay and another from Argentina. She was a pastor’s kid who lived in Buenos Aires who we knew, but we weren’t really friends. She was at my college for a year and then dropped out. I had some friendships, but they were new, and being an introvert, it wasn’t easy for me to break out of my shell and be myself and make friends. So that was an adjustment. As I got through a couple years of college, I could see a benefit in being a TCK in that… I remember going through this time during college where I was like, “Who am I, how do I fit in? I miss Argentina, but what’s home”… that whole struggle. I think, at some point, I accepted me for myself. I don’t know if that makes sense.

Breanne: No, yeah, totally.

Liz: I think any differences I had with other people my age didn’t matter anymore.

Breanne: Whereas before, they really mattered. That was like the switch.

Liz: Right. As a teenager, being different wasn’t something I relished or something I wanted. As I got older, as I matured, as I gained experience… I don’t remember an “aha” moment, but as I grew, fitting in and relating to other people wasn’t crucial anymore. I was able to accept that I am the way I am and, knowing that I bring something different to the people around me. I have different life experiences, and that is a good thing. That doesn’t diminish other people’s life experiences of mine. It’s just different.

Breanne: That’s so good.


This interview has been amazing to unpack and chew on! Don’t miss the last part that I’ll post next week. (And honestly, I’m saving the best for last.)

What has stood out to you in this interview? I’ll be replying to your comments!