TCK identity

Why Your TCK Identity Crisis is Actually a Good Thing

In high school, I was a straight-A student. I thought of myself as inherently smart, and I knew if I didn’t get an A on something, it meant I hadn’t put in enough effort. 

My first term at university came as a shock: the highest grade I received was one A minus. All my other classes were below that. 

Silly as it may sound, I suddenly found myself asking questions about my worth. I floundered, wondering if I had ever known who I really was. Asking one identity question seemed to open the door for more, similar ones. What started as, “Am I really a straight-A student?” turned into, “Am I even smart?” 

A whole dam of questions unleashed until I found myself in a full-blown identity crisis, asking basic, but not uncommon, questions such as:

Who am I?

Am I a student? A daughter? Or a friend?

Am I really an American

Will I ever be considered Indonesian?

Am I truly a TCK?

What if I (fill-in-the-blank)? Wouldn’t that change who I am?

I asked myself all these questions, thinking I was the only one who wrestled with such doubts, when in reality…

Everyone Asks Identity Questions (TCKs Just Ask Sooner)

Okay, that might be a generalization, but here’s my point: we are not born with an inherent understanding of who we are. Most people eventually ask identity questions¹, sometimes framed as drastically as:

Are we all just mindless animals?

Am I existing completely by chance (and is everything therefore meaningless)?

Is life one grand illusion and reality a joke?

Perhaps you, Christian TCK, have not asked the questions above. Still, the question of identity may sneak up on you when you don’t realize it. 

Have you ever wondered if you truly belonged anywhere? Or what your culture is? Have you felt that speaking a certain language, having a certain accent, or associating with a certain people group changed or affected who you are? 

One of the hardest scenarios for me is when I don’t even realize I’ve placed my identity in something. Then, when the object of my identity fails me, I find myself in shambles. More often than not, I’ve created a conglomeration of things that makes up who I am. 

You, TCK, might not be asking what your gender is, as many in this world seem to be questioning. But from a young age, whether moving around or living in a place where no one looked like you, you’ve probably asked in some shape or form, “Who am I?”

Identity Questions are Important

I would argue that the question of identity is one of the most important questions a person (at least in our current society) can ask and learn the answers to. 

Why? Because who we are (or who we think we are) has a huge effect on the way we live. 
I recently read the autobiography of a TCK who considered herself a chameleon². She changed so completely to fit each new environment that a friend accused her of not knowing who she was. As a result, for years she saw herself as an imposter. Viewing herself as a chameleon affected the way she understood life. 

Here’s the thing about identity.

The lines are so blurred in the world that, rather than being told and affirmed of who we are, we are told that we are whoever we want to be. 

It sounds accepting and empowering: “You can be whoever you want to be!” 

But, in reality, this thinking undermines true encouragement.

Here’s the problem: I change and I fail and even my own emotions are often in opposition with themselves. 

I may put my identity in, say, being a good daughter. But if, no matter how hard I try, that relationship is strained and my parents think I’m disrespectful or unreliable, who am I? 

Or if I put my identity in being a straight-A student, and then I get a C in several classes, who am I?

What if I put my identity in being an independent single woman, and then I get married? Who am I?

The list goes on and on … we put identity in relationships, social statuses, jobs, wealth, race, gender, sexual preferences, language, nationality, and on and on. We can even put our identity in – ahem – a group of people like us, TCKs

The problem is that at the end of the day, all these things will pass away.

If I follow the thinking that the world does, I may end up arrogant, unbearable, or self-centered. Or confused and believing I’m a worthless failure.

But none of this is actually who I am.

The Question That Yields Answers

As with so many other things in life, to understand the question, “Who am I?” I must turn to the Scriptures. 

And what does the Bible say? 

Before I was conceived in my mother’s womb, God knew me (Ps. 139). 

Each day of my life, not one more or one less, He had written out in His book before I was even born (Ps. 139:16).

I’ve been created by Him for a purpose and with a hopeful future (Eph. 2:10; Jer. 29:11).
The King of the universe is my Father, making me an heir of His eternal kingdom (Rom. 8:16–17; Jas. 2:5).

God does not make mistakes, therefore I am not a mistake (Gen. 1:31; Ps. 139:14; 1 Tim. 4:4).
I am the Lord’s masterpiece, pointing others towards my good Creator (Col. 1:16; Eph. 2:10).
He chose me, crafted me, and gifted me uniquely to glorify Him (Rom. 11:36; 1 Cor. 12:4–7).

So the real question is not, “Who am I?” 

Rather, since I have been created by God, the question should be, “Who is this who has created me?” 

And I might further ask, “What is He like? And what are the implications for me?”

As a TCK, I have many opportunities to wonder where I belong and who I truly am, since I’m from neither here nor there. But reminding myself who my Lord is comforts me and grounds me in a way that nothing else in this life can.

Your Identity Crisis Is a Good Thing

My identity and your identity are not found in ourselves. Nothing you can do will ever change who God is, who He has created you to be, or what His plan for your life is.

It’s easy to compare yourself to those around you and think everyone else has themselves figured out, but they don’t. Many of them may have not questioned their belonging or identity yet, but that’s not the same as knowing who they are. 

So when you find yourself asking confusing or disturbing questions about life, belonging, or identity, don’t fret. Instead, thank God for the opportunity He has given you, through your unique upbringing, to root yourself in Him. Praise Him for His sovereign hand over your life, and go remind yourself who He is. Meditate on His characteristics and what it means for you specifically to find your identity in Jesus.

Your identity crisis is a blessing in disguise, because while many people are confused about who they are, you can turn to God and grow even more rooted in Him. 

When your identity is in Christ, you will find unsurpassed peace and confidence in who you are – not because of you, but because of your good Creator and who He intends you to be. 


1. Whitborne, Susan Krauss. 2012. “Are You Having An Identity Crisis?” Psychology Today.

2. Gardner, Marilyn R. 2014. Between Worlds. Doorlight Publications.

Chana bio pic
TCKs for Christ: Newsletter Manager


is a TCK from America who spent half of her childhood in Indonesia along with her parents and seven younger siblings. She’s passionate about learning new things and seeing the beauty in differences. In her free time, she likes to read, play board games, talk, laugh, write poetry, joke, and meet new people. She’s also a student at Moody Bible Institute, working towards her bachelor’s in Linguistics and Teaching English. Connect with her social media handle, @Godisgraciousx2.

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