Self-Worth, Strength and Stripping Away The Rest

Who you are and how you see yourself; this is the key to self-worth.

As I saw it put in one article, self-worth is how you view yourself if everything else about you had been stripped away (friends, family, material goods, job, etc.) If one thinks about it, this must be exactly what happens every day to large numbers of refugees such as the Rohingya, Syrians or any number of Africans, who routinely find themselves in just such a situation. Looked at from that perspective, a lot of them must be formidable people to go through experiences and continue to make lives for themselves and their families.

Self-worth is also independent of what others may think about you. It is the very core of who you are; your strengths, your weaknesses, and how you view yourself.

Not a trivial issue when all is said and done. And where does this self-worth come from? It doesn’t just materialize from whole cloth one day. It is something that is built up over time, unconsciously as a child, and perhaps, if one actually becomes self-aware, from building blocks that you yourself create.

How much of my self-worth comes from my being a TCK? It is only a part of my makeup, but it is a significant one. Some of the major strengths that I have gained from being a TCK are tolerance, a wider worldview, broader experience, empathy, and resilience.


When one is brought up as the perennial outsider, tolerance is a survival trait. I view this as one of my greatest strengths.

I enjoy that people are different. It adds flavor and spice to life. I also don’t fear difference. In truth, this doesn’t apply to the person in the elevator who has obviously not made the acquaintance of soap and water—I’m not that tolerant. I have no tolerance for intolerance either. Other than that, I just don’t worry about differences too much.

Wider worldview

I see every day what results from people who don’t have a broader worldview. They live in echo chambers of fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD). It is clear to see that this drives their every action. It is this FUD factor that politicians and people in power utilize all the time to manipulate others. Having a wider worldview allows one to see the big picture and put things in perspective. It is crucial to maintaining a sense of balance in today’s world. It also allows one to see through the constant manipulation surrounding us (including that store trying to convince you to buy that one indispensable item of STUFF).

Broader experience and empathy

Because I have seen so much of the world, it allows me, to a large degree, to understand why people are the way they are (although, to this day I simply don’t get fundamentalism of any stripe, and I suspect I never will). I find it easy to empathize, at least intellectually, with what can drive people. That aids in tolerance and simply getting along with others.


In our edition about Resilience, many of us wrote stories about living in a world where ambiguity and change are the norms, so you are resilient, or you break. Resilience is so much a part of who I am that I almost forgot to include it as a strength.

Because of these strengths, I believe have a fairly high sense of self-worth.

And what chips away at my self-worth? What fears and emotions hold me back? What do I struggle with the most? Many things. Often, to some degree, I feel that I don’t have the right to be happy. I’m not really a good person. I’m shallow. I’m a people pleaser (I’m so eager to be liked sometimes that I do what actually impacts me negatively). That comes from, well, I don’t have a really good idea, however, any article about children of alcoholics will tell you that these symptoms are not uncommon. I am trying to get better about these issues. My bedrock of self-worth does not allow my imperfections control my life.

In spite of my issues, when I allow myself to be brutally honest (I don’t like to do that too much as it strikes me as being immodest. There—another fault), I realize that my strengths do far outweigh my weaknesses.

My point is that I think my upbringing as a TCK has given me the strengths that I have, and to a very large degree, those have offset the cracks in my self-worth. I am grateful to my upbringing that such is the case.

To others, I say, as a TCK, embrace what your upbringing has brought you. I kind of wish I had realized some of these things when I was young enough to appreciate what they meant to me as a person. It’s never really too late, but sometimes I wish I had a stronger understanding of these parts of my identity before I was in my late 40s.

Work hard on your own self-worth. I believe it will make you more independent and allow you to hold yourself accountable, inevitably giving you the power to create your own path in life: the best way for any TCK to forge ahead!