How moving has helped me grow
Jewish, Cajun, Navy brat and obstinate. All these words encapsulate who I am. Growing up all over the world, I haven't had the typical, suburban childhood that most think of when wondering what life is like as an American. Born near Seattle, Washington, I have moved to a variety of locations all over the world. From Italy to Japan to Maryland, each location has been an opportunity for me to grow and develop as a person.
The pressures of being the son of a father in the military are never easy. Friends move away, parents get deployed, and every three years, we must pick up our stuff and move on to our new homes. One of the hardest parts of this constant moving is the transition between schools. Whether struggling to transfer credits, finding your place, or figuring out a brand new schedule, adapting to a new school is always arduous. While these challenges are indeed stress-inducing, intimidating, and discouraging at times, I would never give up my crazy, unpredictable life for anything.
Through my various travels and moves, I have learned and experienced things that few have. I have seen the wealth of modern Europe in London and Paris while also observing the extreme poverty of rural Cambodia and Vietnam. These experiences have not only made me more worldly, but also conscious of my privileges, and I would not trade that for the world.
Another thing that never seems to change, no matter how far or often I move, is my family. My family is not what most people would consider typical. My dad grew up Jewish in the suburbs of California, my mom grew up Cajun in rural Louisiana and my sister was adopted from Taiwan when I was three. While on paper, this may look like an unusual and unlikely mix of cultures, the acknowledgment of our unique backgrounds and the constant pressures each one of us experiences when moving only draw us closer together. In fact, our diverse composition reflects the lives we each have chosen to live.
But perhaps the most important thing that I have learned from moving throughout my life is to think independently. You may bring your physical items with you when you move across the world, but by far the most valuable thing you bring is your brain. When you move from one place to another, you are exposed to separate ideas and views that you may have never considered before. Along the way, I have learned to think critically, one of the skills I hold most dearly. In a world often blinded to compromise and blighted by an inability to understand one another, this trait has served me well.
Whenever I move to a new place, not only does my environment change, but the culture shifts drastically as well. One such example is the politics of each new place. From liberal to conservative and fundamentalist to progressive, each new place not only brings new people into my life, but new ideas as well. In addition to seeing American politics from all sorts of angles, I have also been able to see international issues from a non-American perspective. Such an opportunity is rare with many teens and even many adults. Not only have these diverse ideologies helped me refine my own opinions, but they have also allowed me to see and really comprehend the arguments on all sides of issues.
I see myself as a result of my life so far. The vast diversity of cultures and ideas I have personally lived through have molded me into the person I am today. As I continue to move on in my hectic and random life, I may forget some of my old friends and certain aspects of the myriad schools I have attended, along with a plethora of other details from my various “hometowns”. But regardless of where I go next, I will never forget the new things I learn from each place, And for that, I am thankful.
This article was written by Noah S., a Navy Brat in Maryland. If you have a piece you'd like to share, please visit our Writing page for more information.