Adaptability.Posted: January 21, 2012
That’s what they say you need.
That’s what they say it gives you.
That’s what they say I gained.
“If you’re going to live cross-culturally you need to be adaptable.” That’s what I’ve heard, time and time again. To be able to adapt to a different culture, a different language, a different dress code, a different climate, a different life style. It’s not a one off adaptation, you’ve got to be able to reverse the procedure, and then re-do it, and then re-adapt in a new way,and then reverse it again, over, and over, and over,and over, again.
“Being a TCK increases your adaptability like no other experience.” That’s what they’ve all told me, and that it what I have spoken to others. The never-ending changes, the daily swapping between cultures, the country hopping. To survive you learn to adapt, and you learn fast. You never fully succeed, but you try, and you hope that you’ve done enough to fit in, to no stick out like a sore thumb.
“You may feel like you’ve missed out on certain things, but one thing you’ve gained is the ability to adapt to any situation and circumstance well.” That’s how they try to console me. I long for the stability of a childhood lived in one neighbourhood, for friends that date decades back, for adults who have seen me grow up through the years. In all the change though, I learnt to cope with what changes life threw at me, to make friends wherever I go, to enjoy the world I find myself in. To adapt.
But doesn’t adaptability go too far sometimes? Don’t we find ourselves adapting too far? Don’t we sometimes loose the precious lessons one culture, one place, one world, teaches us when adapt so fully? Don’t we sometimes compromise who we are, what we believe, what we stand for, when we choose adaptability?
In one culture I find myself learning to be grateful for the small things in life. For enough wood to stay warm, for snow to water the ground, for health, for the few hours of electricity we have that day. Then I get thrust into a different culture, and I adapt. I find myself moaning because the shower isn’t hot enough, because it’s cloudy outside, because I don’t feel well.
I wonder when I lost the lesson of gratefulness to adaptability.
In one world I find myself spending endless time with my saviour, and talking to him throughout the day, learning more of who He is. Yet I know when I shift into another world I will adapt and I won’t set so much time apart, I’ll forget to talk to Him during my day, and he’ll be held off till those last waking moments as my head rests on my pillow.
I wonder when I lost my desire and my self-discipline to adaptability.
In one place I find myself loving, caring, having grace, for others. And then, transferred to another place, I adapt. I hear myself, criticising, mocking, frustrated, judging those around me.
I wonder when I lost godly character to adaptability.
And so I wonder, isn’t adaptability sometimes a negative thing? Don’t we sometimes adapt too far?
I wish I was a little less adaptable in many areas of my life.